Davidson triathlete Leigh-Ann Mueller is grateful for community this week, both where she lives and the community of area cyclists, which helped her get back a racing bike stolen from her home last week. The bicycle’s return is a great story with an anonymous hero, a supporting role for DavidsonNews.net, and a lesson.
The bicycle is a Cervelo, the kind of high-end road bike you might see at the London Olympic Games. Ms. Mueller is a competitive cyclist and was devastated on Monday, July 23, when she discovered the $2,500 bike missing from her garage on Wolfe Street, in Davidson’s St. Alban’s neighborhood.
She put the word out on Facebook to friends and fellow cyclists and emailed DavidsonNews.net seeking help. We published a note and photo of the lost bike in our weekly Police Blotter last week.
On Sunday, she got a call from police in Matthews, southeast of Charlotte. Another cyclist, who doesn’t want to be named, saw the bike advertised on the online ads site craigslist.org. He thought the $700 asking price seemed a bit low for such a nice bike. She tells the story from here:
“He called the seller, who was unable to answer many of his questions. He thought things seemed fishy so he did a Google search for stolen Cervelo bikes, and came across the article on Davidsonnews.net. From there he called the Davidson Police Department, who contacted me with a link to the ad. After confirming that the bike was indeed mine, the police set up a sting, where our kind random cyclist actually posed as a buyer and met the alleged thief in a parking lot while communicating with police.”
Matthews police arrested the man, Joseph Devonne Franklin-Harris, 20, and charged him with possession of stolen goods – a felony because of the bike’s value. It turns out, the Charlotte man has faced a long list of similar charges.
Davidson police are continuing to investigate the case and as of late this week they had not filed any additional charges against Mr. Franklin-Harris.
Davidson Detective Steve Ingram credited the would-be buyer with making the case. “The buyer asked common questions about the equipment that would be known to any cyclist. According to the buyer, the suspect was unable to provide basic information about the bike,” Detective Ingram said.
On Tuesday, Ms. Mueller was able to collect her bike at the Matthews police department – a happy day, she says, “All due to a random act of kindness by a stranger. I am so thankful!”
She actually was able to talk to the fellow cyclist. He said he was just happy to help. “He loves to cycle, and he said he’d be devastated if his bicycle were stolen. He would want someone else to do the same thing,” Ms. Mueller said.
Ms. Mueller said the recovery of her bike wouldn’t have been possible without the internet, which helped that cyclist connect the dots on the case. “It also speaks to the power of living in a small community, where everyone looks out for each other, and … our cycling and endurance community here in the Charlotte area.”
Meanwhile, she said the theft is a lesson for us not to become complacent about our surroundings. “It’s a reminder to us in Davidson that we’re safe, but we’re not as safe as we think. We still need to be cautious,” she said.
David Boraks is editor and publisher of DavidsonNews.net.
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