HopeInSB Aug 12, 2021 11:47 AM Victim Locates Stolen Bicycle Hello all, Hope here in SB. With the help of the homeless community, law enforcement & eight laborous hours of outreach and searching, I was able to locate my bicycle parked, shining, and glistening in the sun next to an RV Camper at the amtrak station around 2:11pm. A hostile, erratic homeless woman, who'd somehow come in possession of my bicycle, after it had been stolen from my garage along with a nike back-pack, was very impassioned about it sitting there next to the RV. I was warned by another vagrant immediately that she is violent and she threatened to kill me when I stepped towards my bike. She jumped out of her camper and flailed her arms. That is when I called the police to inform them I found my bicycle and needed their immediate assistance retrieving it. Another homeless individual, seeking to assist with the bicycle's recovery pulled up pony-side next to my bicycle and rode it away to safety per instruction of a lovely transient woman who had been helping me locate the bike for hours, talking with me through my own fear & frustration, walking me along the train-tracks and questioning each vagrant passerby. I was a little sad I couldn't take it back immediately, but I trusted in the group process because police had not arrived yet and I never could have located nor got it back without the help of the uniquely intertwined homeless community. I'm very fortunate. I was directed by this kind transient woman to have the bike sheltered temporarily in a secured encampment I'd been to earlier until police could arrive to mediate the situation. Officer Gutierrez & Officer Lazarus arrived. When asked by a friend of the violent, thieving, arm-flailing transient, how I could prove whether or not the bike was mine amidst all the fuss, I responded I have pictures of me with it on my phone. She responded, "Yeah, I've also seen a picture of a man on the moon." Ha. It was chaos. This angry hostile, and previously infamous transient who's appeared on Nextdoor disappeared into the camper and hid from police when they arrived. I have never quite been thru such a thing, but without the help of the local homeless community in tandem with police assistance and investigation, I never could have retrieved my stolen bicycle. Officers Stanford and Lazarus had dually investigated the scene of the crime; pulling nearby property camera surveillance, contacting neighbors and other residents, while also taking finger prints of the affected scene. It was quite well addressed. After police left around 9-10am, I left in my car with determined focus and a strong faith I could bring my bike & nike backpack home safely. I had just had it fully tuned up at REI the day before, with new breakpads & everything, so I was quite distraught it was taken from me. I began outreaching with the homeless community immediately. I drove past and entered various homeless encampments /hangouts offering peace and a $400 reward for the safe return/information/assistance leading to my bicycle. I also had a genuine desire to help whomever needed my bicycle so much as to steal it in the first place, and really wanted to show support to any of those willing to assist me in locating it. Per the detailed instruction of a helpful & long-time transient, I searched a list of encampments, slowly but surely throughout the day. It took me roughly 8 hours to finally bring my stolen backpack and bicycle home. Police helped me load the bike into my vehicle after fingerprinting its surface. Many homeless do not condone stealing and I watched many of them get upset when they heard what had happened to me. We had narrowed the suspect pool to transients because of the choice of items taken which is how and why I knew where to search. I understand how difficult life can be, how our minds can trick us, people can turn sour and consequently turn to such hurtful behavior as to steal. However, I hate being stolen from and I wish I could help demonstrate how unnecessary stealing is. I had accepted I may never see the pink bike again. However, I wanted the homeless community to hear me empathize with their struggles and I used the opportunity to reach out and make a few of their days handing out cash & water bottles simply for giving me the time. Due to the number of transient individuals who assisted me, I am dividing a numerical reward amongst at least half a dozen people who went out of their way to scour the city for me on their own bicycles in search, while I waited at an encampment in case it was brought in for an "exchange." (Which I was told is often the case with stolen bicycles) According to the testimony of the apparent culprit, she had been given my bicycle in an "exchange" that occurred early in the morning from a hotel manager of a nearby hotel. Nearby surveillance & witnesses coming forward will ultimately determine the case. I'm certain the individual who actually burglarized me did not assist me with it's return and will be held criminally responsible. I'm not sure what the burglars presumed would happen, but I made it clear anyone coming forward to help would not be held criminally responsible. The homeless can be very helpful. Despite/regardless of drug addiction/criminal history & circumstance they are still human and often more human, struggling with human affliction more than most. Many are somewhat emotionally intelligent and dedicated civilians, striving to provide purpose in this world, where purpose has been stripped from theirs in some way. Most homeless people and their encampments are ignored until something happens, they're reported & forced out of their sheltering places by authorities. I heard unanimously that losing their shelters often costs them their jobs, clothing, personal items, and any mental health they had gained securing a shelter for themselves. Many homeless / transient individuals passionately dedicated themselves to the cause of finding my bicycle. I am very thankful for them. The homeless population is the ever-present eyes and ears on our city streets here. They see, know, & recognize many people, are consistently out facing the elements observing all that goes on all hours of the day. Unwittingly, the homeless observe much of what goes on in this city behind the scenes. I hope my success story of retrieving my stolen items encourages many in the community to have more faith in our local humanity and trust in the process. I feel very blessed and grateful to all those who have helped me. We cannot control the big, big world. But here in Santa Barbara, we really do have each other to lean on in many small ways that add up, cumulatively over time. We can do good for the world and our community when we contribute our hearts to the matters that we face on the day-to-day. It was in my heart to reach out to the homeless community & seek ways in which I can provide support, so I am more prepared respond to these types of crimes in the future. I think together, we can all work miracles when we focus on building each other up and "lifting" in the right way despite how me have been torn down. Lessons learned: Don't be quick to point fingers and penalize, seek to remedy and be clear about intentions going forward. What was important to me, wasn't that some vagrant, desperate person had stolen my things, but that someone out there needed me and had stolen pieces of me, and I wanted those pieces back. I found a big piece of myself in working with the homeless community and the police to bring my bicycle home and I'm very blessed I did. My advice to the larger, Santa Barbara community is this: instead of pointing fingers to blame and turning faces of judgment, use compassion to see your way through difficult situations. Always trust in the outcome of things, regardless of what it may cost. For me, it cost me a day of sleep, and precious hours of my time. But in the process, I was able to hear some of the homeless share stories of their struggles and desire to overcome folly and addiction. I was able to influence and impact their victimization. I believe in a world where people don't need to steal and we can all be supportive of one another, regardless of our differences. Thank you for reading.