Thief claims my property is their previously stolen property
May 31, 2014 3:53 PM   Subscribe

I need help when the person that took my property accuses me of stealing it in the first place.

I have a bike storage area in my building-- my tires were flat so I brought my tire pump down and stashed it in the storage area, as I was planning on a quick ride. I come back, bike pump is gone. Parking attendant points out the bike of the person who took it, so I leave a polite note asking them to call me. Next day, I find a voicemail to the effect of "thanks for returning our stolen property, jerk!" I called back, only to be rudely accused of stealing their pump, followed by the person hanging up on me. I'll be filing a police report when I return home, but is there anything else I should keep in mind when dealing with this? I'm completely flabbergasted.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah to Law & Government (11 answers total)
They had the same type of pump and it got stolen?

By any chance was your pump purchase with a card instead of cash? Even if it was bought years ago, the records still exist somewhere, maybe try to find them?

Yes. Let the police handle this.

Save the voicemail and provide an audio file to the detectives.

Do you have the name of the witness? You'll need to give the police that, too.
posted by jbenben at 3:59 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

By "bike pump", do you mean the hand pumps that cost a couple bucks at any sporting goods store? If so, I would just buy a new one and keep it in your apartment from now on.
posted by Sara C. at 4:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nah, legit pump with bells and whistles, but regardless, hopefully I get some sympathy for the principle of it all! Thief claims same model bike pump, stolen several months ago.
posted by undercoverhuwaaah at 4:47 PM on May 31, 2014

Sounds like a misunderstanding - they must have lost the same model pump and think you were the thief. Probably best if you can dig up the receipt to show that it's really yours.
posted by zug at 4:50 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

So the potential for escalation here is high. They live in your apartment complex so you will likely have to deal with them again. With that said - I would not drop this. If you DO choose to drop it, they will carry a grudge thinking "The guy in 4F is a thief!" and scowl at you if they see you in the halls and possibly poison the landlord or other residents about you. Thankfully, resolving this should be a cinch:

I would start by getting your record that you own one yourself (if you can find it - CC bills are around for a long time online), photocopy your receipt (after writing your name on it clearly just in case). Then call them. Leave a message that sounds something like this: "I'm sorry your pump was stolen, but you've actually taken someone else's pump. I have the receipt from my purchase of the pump. I'd like to drop by your apartment and show you the receipt and hopefully we can clear up the misunderstanding."

Then give them a week or so. Wait on filing the police report. If they don't cough up the pump, call the cops. But I bet you get an embarrassed apology and your bike pump back. Once you have it back, write your name on it in permanent marker.
posted by arnicae at 4:51 PM on May 31, 2014 [11 favorites]

Is it a common brand/model of floor pump? Could be you two bought them in the same place and they could be ribbed a little bit on that token. "Oh, you must shop at Sports Authority, too. Everybody has this pump." If a woman, pull your purse closer to you when you see them.

"Why would I leave in plain sight a pump I stole from my neighbors?"
posted by rhizome at 5:38 PM on May 31, 2014

My pumps have gotten ripped off like this several times. I would not bother at all, even if it was like a $70 pump. After the first time, i started buying really decent pumps like that... at thrift stores. If it gets left outside and rained on and ruined by some friend/stolen/broken/whatever then... who cares? I paid $6-12 for it and got six months or a year or two of use out of it.

I have no idea where my most recent nice pump went. I see nice ones at thrift stores all the time now though, and i might pick one up again if i ever change jobs and can't use the air system at my work to inflate my tires.

Gotta side with sara c on this one. Save the cops/neighbor good will capitol for when someone fucks with your actual bike, which is often a huge hassle to get anyone to take seriously/care about.
posted by emptythought at 8:40 PM on May 31, 2014

Wow, what goofy people. Why on earth would you give them your contact information if you were the person who stole their pump? It makes no sense.

But probably by now they've realized that too, and will thus double down on insisting that it is definitely their pump because the alternative is the embarrassment of admitting they were wrong. I think the only thing you can really do here is say, well, I'm sorry your pump was stolen, and if the one you used to own ever finds its way back to you I'd really appreciate if you could return mine to me, and in the meantime I guess I'm going to go purchase a new pump.
posted by town of cats at 8:49 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

[One comment deleted. Please don't publish info from people's profile pages (which are purposely not indexed by search engines). Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:58 AM on June 1, 2014

Someone saw them take your pump. It will be helpful if you can prove ownership, but they have no evidence at all that you took it from them, so it's likely to be returned to you. Your neighbors are hotheads who jumped to a conclusion. If possible, ignore them.
posted by theora55 at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2014

You could start using Presta valves, so that your pump no longer fits the tubes of a large proportion of people-who-steal-pumps.
posted by rhizome at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

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