Re: [messengers] A Bike Theft in the Time of Twitter

Date: 12 Mar 2010 01:15:00 +0100
From: Corey Hilliard <coreythecourier@xxxxxxxxx>

Can someone explain to me why Austin gets write up in the newspaper for a
rookie mistake?

There would be no story if he properly locked his bike with a chain lock in
the first place. This ain't no breezy CMWC/NAC3 you're in
NewYorkfuckingCity. You're lucky it hasn't happened sooner.

Corey the Courier

On Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 1:21 PM, Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> A Bike Theft in the Time of Twitter
> New York Times, March 9, 2010
> Austin Horse thought he was just leaving his bike for a second when he ran
> into the lobby of an office building at 28th Street and Madison Avenue last
> Tuesday afternoon to make a pickup.
> Mr. Horse, a messenger since 2005, expected a quick turnaround — run up to
> the desk, get the package, get back on the bike — and locking his bright
> orange track bike would just slow the whole process. “I had it fake-locked,”
> he said, describing how he had placed a U-lock through the back wheel
> without closing it, as a decoy. “Normally, a pickup like that, it takes 30
> seconds.”
> But there had been some confusion at the company, and the package was not
> ready for him. Ten minutes passed, with Mr. Horse standing around the lobby,
> watching the bike through large glass windows, growing increasingly antsy.
> Finally, the package arrived, and he went to the desk to get it, turning his
> back to the windows.
> A minute later, the bike was gone.
> His immediate thought was “somebody’s playing a prank on me,” Mr. Horse
> said. He rushed outside, checking all around the planter where his bike had
> been leaning, half expecting at any moment to hear the sound of his
> messenger friends laughing. Despite riding daily for years, Mr. Horse had
> never had a bike stolen, and at first he did not believe it was happening to
> him.
> Yet it is practically a ritual of spring — as the bikes come out in greater
> numbers, so do the thieves. Even with the recent police crackdown on one
> East Village shop for buying stolen bikes, anecdotal evidence suggests that
> thefts are seeing a seasonal rise. Even Bike Snob, the venerable, anonymous
> blogger, is not safe: on Monday, his handlebars — and all that comes with
> them — were stolen during lunchtime.
> While it is too early to tell whether thefts are in fact increasing, new
> technologies are making it easier for riders to tap into the wider bike
> realm quickly when there is a theft. If three years ago, it took days to
> recover a missing bike via online message boards, Twitter has exponentially
> shortened the time.
> (Of course, the amplification effect of Twitter can work negatively as
> well, and jokingly tweeting about a stolen bike can quickly spiral out of
> control, as Bike Snob also recently discovered.)
> Back on Madison Avenue, Mr. Horse quickly realized his bike was gone and
> immediately took out his cellphone and posted to Twitter (“STOLEN BIKE! My
> orange gangsta just got stolen 28th & mad”). He then found a few pictures of
> the bike that he had shot previously and retweeted them. It was just after 4
> p.m.
> With the digital alarm sounded, Mr. Horse went back into the building to
> see if the security cameras had captured anything. Mr. Horse knew he had to
> move quickly if he hoped to see the bike again. While some bicycles are
> recovered long after being stolen, as time passes, the thief has more
> opportunity to stash, alter or resell the bike.
> Security guards in the building were able to locate footage of the thief,
> he said, but all he could see was a “grayish-blackish blob on an orange
> blur.”
> Meanwhile, his tweet was picked up by other local riders and reposted on
> several online forums, including, a members-only site for
> local fixed-gear enthusiasts. That is where Eddie Brannan, a freelance
> creative director for magazines and a friend of Mr. Horse, first heard about
> the theft. “They have a pretty good track record of recovering bikes,” Mr.
> Brannan said.
> Bikeless, Mr. Horse headed downtown on foot — “I’m just not comfortable
> taking the subway” — to get a replacement ride and finish his day’s runs,
> which were piling up. And, he figured, “if the guy was going to go anywhere,
> he was going to go to the Lower East Side.”
> Around 6:30 p.m., Mr. Brannan was with his wife outside the New Museum
> before an opening, feeling a bit peckish.
> He strolled around the corner onto Stanton Street to get a snack and
> discovered, parked upside-down in front of the deli he was aiming for, a
> bright orange Gangsta Track bike, by Brooklyn Machine Works. “I noticed
> straightaway that it was Austin’s, and called him to tell him that I was
> with his bike,” he said. (Mr. Horse, remembering the conversation, attempted
> to imitate a happy British accent: “He said, “Hey, mate, I’m standing right
> next to your bike.’ “)
> After waiting a few seconds to see if anyone would emerge from the deli,
> one hand placed on the bike, Mr. Brannan decided to flip it over and steal
> it back. “It’s completely unique, one of a kind,” he said. “I’d actually
> rode it a few years ago — it was a prototype model of the model.”
> Mr. Horse rushed down and: “Boom, there it is. He reunites me with my
> bike.”
> “I was kind of tempted to go back to the deli. … I don’t know, I’m
> curious,” he said. But there was not time. Almost immediately after he got
> his bike back, there was a call from the dispatcher: Triple rush, Midtown.
> “I knocked out the triple on my recovered bike,” he said. “All’s well with
> the world.”
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