DIXON (CBS13) — A fake Facebook page may have persuaded a bike thief to return a stolen bike to its owner.
Phil Coats had surveillance showing the thief marching onto his Dixon front porch and riding off on his son’s bike. Phil says he just needed a plan.
“I couldn’t sleep all night, I was trying to figure out, ‘What am I gonna do?’” said Coats.
Most people probably would have stopped with a police report, but Phil figured the misdemeanor theft wasn’t exactly cops’ top priority. So, the software engineer came up with an idea, using social media with a twist.
“I was gonna make flyers but then I thought, ‘Hey I’ll just start a Facebook page and pretend to be this guy,’” said Coats.
And so the Dixon Bike Thief page was born.
“So I said ‘I’m the Dixon bike thief — you better watch out ‘cuz I’ll steal your bikes I’ll steal anything,’” Coats wrote. “So, you better lock your doors and hide your valuables, because I prowl the streets at night.”
Sarcastic? Sure. But it got the word out, and within 24 hours, Coats had 10,000 views and the comments and likes kept coming.
And about a month after the theft, the thief returned to the scene of the crime, bringing the bike back. And it was all caught on camera.
“My wife goes out to get something from the car, and comes running back in the house and grabs me by the arm,” said Coats.
It was his son’s bike lying on the lawn. It turns out the thief came back to return what he stole.
“It’s obviously the same person, and the bike’s got a little bit of wear and tear on it,” said Coats.
Was it shame, or maybe a change of heart, that motivated the thief? Or fear of being caught?
“I have no idea why he returned the bike. If he comes forward and wants to tell you then you’ll know,” said Coats.
We won’t hold our breath on that one.
Phil says he ended up making flyers too, but most people he passed them out to already saw the Facebook page. Coats says he had to delete a few negative comments, but says most people thought the page was pretty funny.