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D.C. man steals back stolen bike, gets even

Thursday - 5/10/2012, 3:01pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Not long after Danny Lesh's bike was stolen, the green hybrid Cannondale turned up for sale on Craigslist. So the avid bicyclist did what any self-respecting victim might dream of doing: he stole it back.

Lesh tells NBC 4 his bike was stolen recently after he lent it to friend, who secured it with a cable lock, which a thief broke.

Soon after, Lesh saw the bike advertised on Craigslist for $100. He called the listed number and set up an appointment to buy it back. Lesh says he was certain the cycle was his because of a unique sticker on it.

District Police Chief Cathy Lanier says Lesh called her department on his way to retrieve the stolen bike, but they were unable to assist him immediately. So Lesh took matters into his own hands.

"I knew I had to do it that day, or else I'd never see the bike again," he tells NBC 4.

Lesh met the seller on 5th and Longfellow streets in Northwest, hopped on for a "test ride," then rode away without paying.

Lanier says her department would have supported Lesh if they'd had more time, and warns handling a situation as Lesh did can be dangerous, "You really never know who you're dealing with."

On Thursday, Lanier told WTOP many bikes are stolen in the District and while police recover a great deal of them, they can't be claimed by their original owners unless those owners have the serial number.

"They sit over on our property division for months and months and months," she says. "If they're unclaimed, they're auctioned off."

The majority of recovered bikes are never claimed.

After Lesh fled on his newly-acquired old bike, the seller tried to contact him and threatened to call the police. Lesh responded by putting his own ad on Craigslist warning potential buyers of the thief and cautioning that expensive bikes selling for low prices could have been stolen.

Lanier says bikers should always remove the seat when leaving their bike locked on the street. Officers will stop bikers riding seatless bicycles. She also says it's important to write down each bike's serial number. If the bike has been stolen, cyclists can often take the receipt back to where they purchased the bike and the store can provide it for them.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)