Dear Portland, The De Rosa Has Been Found!

Here's how a stolen bicycle that was missing for 6 years was finally found through the help of social media sleuthing and the awesome efforts of the San Francisco and Portland cycling communities.

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  1. Monday, August 6: In the late afternoon, I log on to SFFixed, a local cycling forum that I help to moderate. I see that one of my friends, Justin Labo, has posted the following message in the "Stolen Bike" thread: 

    "99% sure this is my De Rosa. (link to now-defunct cl ad) Anybody have a link in Portland? I've emailed the seller, but no response. Hoping to get some assistance from somebody on the ground up there. Appreciate it if anybody can help. Thanks!"

    Justin's referring to his vintage Italian De Rosa track bike that's been missing since 2006. It was stolen out of a storage locker when he was temporarily living in New York City. The full story is here. 

    My own mountain bike was recently stolen -- and recovered in just four days -- through the help of social media. 6 years ago, Facebook, Twitter and other networks weren't as popularly used as they are now -- so I wanted to return the good karma I had just received and see if I could help reunite Justin with his beloved bike. Perhaps by tapping into my same cycling-centric social media networks, we could find his De Rosa. 
  2. I first reach out to my friend Ifanyi Bell, a former colleague of mine at KQED, who now works at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. He's also an avid cyclist. 
  3. I put out a general call to my cycling friends on Twitter: 
  4. On Facebook, I post a message in a private cycling group to get in touch with former Bay Area resident-now-Portland local Tyler Bump: 
  5. Posting this to Tyler Bump and any other peeps in Portland. This was posted on SFFixed, and my friend Justin is asking for help recovering this in Portland. He's 99% sure it's the De Rosa that was stolen from him several years ago and he's been searching for it ever since. He emailed the seller and hasn't heard back yet...Can anyone help? In case the poster is on any local bike forums, this shouldn't be circulated on PDXFixed...
  6. Will get the word out here to some trustworthy folks to keep their eyes peeled. If you need me to grab it let me know. Have Justin shoot me an email.
  7. Back on Twitter, I contact Oregon-based cyclist Rick Tillery, a news anchor at KTVL CBS who's well-connected in that area:
  8. He loops in KOIN TV news reporter Joel Iwanaga
  9. And Portland's Mayor Sam Adams
  10. Messages of support and retweets from cycling folks start to circulate, including a popular member of the cycling Twitterati, @mmmaiko
  11. Meanwhile, we do some of our own sleuthing online. Another member from SFFixed, "TimmyB", had also contacted the seller, Chris, separately. He had heard back from him and thus had his real name and email. Chris says via email:

    "If I don't hear back from the person who hit me up first by tonight its your tomorrow morning. Do you have a phone # I could text you at?" 

    Justin, Ifanyi, Tyler and I are worried that the bike will be sold tonight, so we have to act quickly. Justin had already tried contacting Portland's police department but hadn't heard back. He tries calling them again that evening, but they reply they won't intervene unless a definitive meeting has been set up. "We don't get involved with the Internet." So we try to find someone on our own.
  12. Jens Voigt's Army, a local cycling club in Portland, offers moral support: 
  13. Journalist and photographer Lyne Lamoureux who covers the pro cycling scene gave us this contact: