Massage or cash reward for returning stolen bike

Eva Darrow, a 21-year-old who recently graduated from the Ashland Institute of Massage, decided to try a novel tactic when her bicycle was stolen early Monday morning.

She reported the crime to the Ashland Police Department, but she also put a sign in front of her rental house on Siskiyou Boulevard that reads, "To whoever took my bike: Please give me my bike back. I need it. It was a gift and I can't afford a new one."

Another sign next to that one describes her bike as a red, black and silver Giant-brand mountain bike and indicates she's offering a reward of either cash or a massage.

"I normally don't do this," she said. "My friend said he made a sign and it worked. The more people who are looking for it, I may just find it."

She put up the cardboard sign Tuesday afternoon and by Friday morning she had already received about 20 inquiries.

"One guy called and said he saw Giant parked downtown in front of the music store," she said, still lamenting her loss. "But it wasn't mine. A lot of people have said they'll keep an eye out for it. Most people who walk by will say something."

A woman named Donna walked by and said to Darrow, who was standing outside, "Sorry about your bike."

Donna added, "I don't know if she'll get it back but a lot of people will stop and read it. Maybe it will help."

Her roommate received a tip that could yield a clue, Darrow said.

"He said he saw someone riding out of our yard at about one in the morning," Darrow recalled. "I think she said it was a guy, but that's just hearsay."

"A lot of people think only nice bikes get stolen," Sgt. Malcus Williams said. "But some people steal them just for transportation. We'll get a bike stolen on Siskiyou Boulevard and it will turn up a week later on the Plaza. It's like the old 'green bike' program, but involuntary."

He said organized bike crime is less frequent than joyriders in Ashland.

"There have been cases of people stealing a pick-up load of bikes and selling them elsewhere, but that was several years ago," he said.

Local bike shops have different policies on buying used bicycles because of the possibility of a secondhand bike being stolen.

Ashland Street Bicycles, in the Ashland Shopping Plaza, won't sell used bike equipment, just to be safe.

"We stay out of used bikes because we can't tell where they came from," said store manager Erik Long. "More importantly, we don't sell used bike parts because professional bike thieves will part them out."

Get'n Gear, a bike and other sports equipment shop on the corner of A and Fourth Street, does sell used bikes. But Shawna Stargill, the shop owner, said they require sellers to show a photo ID.

"If it does turn up stolen, we can tell the police who sold it to us," she said. "It was something (former APD Chief) Mike Bianca suggested."

She said people like Darrow, who have been victimized by bike heists, often call her store wondering if perhaps it has turned up there.

"I tell them to check the pawnshops in Medford," she said. "But I don't really know what the black market economy is like."

In fact, Darrow already called Get'n Gear this week. She also plans to see if it has turned up on the Internet.

"I've been going to the bike stores, but they haven't seen it," she said. "Today I'm going to go on Craigslist to see if it's listed."

She added that she has no one to blame but herself.

"I did leave it unlocked," Darrow said. "I never do that. Then the one night I do, this is what happens."

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