True Crime

Bike theft

THE VICTIM: Joan Sostek

DATE: Wednesday, Nov. 2

TIME: between 8 and 9 a.m.

PLACE: 6400 block of Woodland

 

Joan Sostek was pulling out of the garage to drive her kids to school a little after 8 a.m. Nov. 2. She was about to close the garage door, but didn’t because her husband was in the garage, and she figured he would close it when he went inside. She dropped off the kids and returned home a little after 9 a.m. to find the garage still open.

“I had a weird feeling, like: ‘Oh, that’s strange.’ ”

As she drove up she saw “this old yucky bike” in the middle of the garage. She looked around for her bicycle, a green Rock Hopper mountain bike worth several hundred dollars. It wasn’t there. Sostek was baffled.

Her husband’s car was in the driveway, so it should have appeared to a burglar that someone was home (turns out her husband was likely in the shower while she was gone). And their dog stays in the breezeway right next to the garage, so she figured it would have barked at an intruder in the garage.

“It was kind of different,” Sostek recalls. “We’re careful to keep the garage door closed, and the one time we don’t … I don’t know if it was a spur of the moment theft or if they had been contemplating it for while.”

She says the person who took the bike must have known it was the most expensive one in the garage. Sostek also says the bike left by the perpetrator appeared to be too small for the rider, with the seat and handlebars extended as high as they would go.

“They definitely traded up,” she says.

Dallas Police Det. Dave Campbell says thefts like this are usually crimes of opportunity.

“That’s pretty typical — someone not necessarily in the neighborhood to steal. It could have been a kid, or it could have been an adult.”

Campbell says he hasn’t seen the bike turn up at the local pawn shops yet, so whoever stole it is probably still riding it around or sold it for drugs. He also says this type of criminal usually doesn’t target specific types of bikes.

“I have seen high-end racing bikes to Wal-Mart bikes and Huffys at the pawn shop. If someone is willing to go in a garage, they are willing to take anything: tools, golf clubs, whatever.”

The quality of the bike might not have meant anything to the thief, but it did to Sostek. She says her husband gave her the bike several years ago, and she was planning to give it to her daughter.

“Now we’re going to buy her a bike, but it won’t be as nice. It’s frustrating that someone would say, ‘Oh, I’ll just take this.’”

Campbell recommends securing your house and never leaving the garage open, helping reduce the “opportunity” factor in a crime of opportunity. He says also it’s important to report suspicious or strange individuals to the police.

Residents can make a suspicious person call to the police without any evidence or wrongdoing, Campbell says, adding that the first thing he does in a case like this is look to see if any suspicious-person reports were filed in the area near the time of the offense.

Sostek says the incident has made her family a little paranoid.

“You do feel violated, even though it was just a bike,” she says. “Now we feel like we have to close the garage door every time we take out the trash.”

 



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