Man Tracks Stolen Bike, Poses as Buyer to Catch Thief - NBC 7 San Diego

Man Tracks Stolen Bike, Poses as Buyer to Catch Thief

Brad Wickliffe scanned through images of bicycles for sale on Craigslist, looking for any sign of his stolen beach cruiser

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    Man Poses as Buyer to Catch Bike Thief

    When a former bouncer's bike was stolen, he turned to Craigslist to get it back. NBC 7's Steven Luke reports. (Published Friday, Sept. 11, 2015)

    Thieves may want to think twice about ripping off someone’s bike after hearing about the great lengths one man went through to recover his stolen beach cruiser.

    Brad Wickliffe, a former bouncer standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, remembers feeling violated as he returned to unlock his chained up bike from a parking lot light pole in Mission Bay.

    “I don’t make a very good victim, that’s just the way it is,” said Wickliffe.

    He turned to Craigslist and for several days incessantly scanned through images of bicycles for sale hoping to find the unmistakable bike with thick tires and red wheels.

    “It took a couple days, but I found it,” said Wickliffe. “That was a rush."

    The bike was advertised as “priced to sell” at $175.

    Wickliffe recruited his girlfriend to pose as a buyer and set up a meeting at a strip mall in National City.

    “I knew I was going to get my bike back, there was no doubt about that. But, I didn’t know how I was going to handle him,” said Wickliffe.

    He got there early and noticed a man riding a bike, while “ghost riding” his bike next to it. The man arrived outside a fast food restaurant.

    Wickliffe watched, waited, and pounced on the man from behind using a rear choke hold.

    “I put him in a rear naked choke and I pulled him off the bicycle and when he was no longer an issue, I just laid him down on the ground and put his hands behind his back, and folded his leg back over, and called the cops," he said.

    National City police officers responded and agreed to let Wickliffe leave with his bike, even though he couldn’t prove it was his.

    He says the man had a warrant for his arrest and the officers found lock picking tools in his backpack along with someone else’s Social Security card.

    Wickliffe says his story draws rave reviews from friends and neighbors who feel like it was a “win for the good guys”, but police urge people to call them instead of confronting strangers on their own.