In the Seattle Times today, there was a report about a guy who conned a string of NW bike shops into letting him take wicked expensive bikes out on test rides that he intended to be…let us say…extended. Basically, he posed as a medical professional who was ready to lay out some serious cash for a top dollar bike, and the shops blissfully let him ride out the door on multi-thousand dollar carbon bonbons with little more than his (fictitious) first name and his reassuring smile. But in the end, he got caught.
The guy left a Tulley’s thermo mug with the name “Jake” on it after riding off on a Cervelo from Speedy Reedy’s shop in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle early last year. Well, the cops used DNA testing to match to a prior conviction in Ohio for credit card fraud. That led them to a 35 yr old podiatrist in Longview WA named Jacob Bos. He has been charged with 12 counts of selling and possessing stolen property.
Turns out the guy was an active member of the NW racing scene. (The Times used the word “elite”, but I’m a Cat4 on the road too, and I don’t call myself “elite”.) Apparently, he was riding, racing, and even selling to fellow racers the bikes he had stolen. No one had any idea, not those who raced with him, not the owners of the clinic he worked. The guy must have been pretty smooth.
The cops have already recovered a few of the bikes from those unsuspecting racers who purchased them off of Bos. The Times article talks about the loss of trust in the racing community. But as much as he might have been able to convince others that he was authentic as a racer, I think the stronger factor in the shops letting him out the door without surrendering an ID and credit card had to do with Bos being able to convince others that he was wealthy and respectable. It could have easily been some other kind of merchandise theft, but it just happened to be bikes, maybe out of convenience. After all, you can’t make a getaway by pedaling on a stolen plasma tv.