Yes, goddammit I did it! I ‘stole’ the Nice Ride that was posted on Craigslist last week.
The idea came to me on Tuesday over drinks. I think it evolved from a joke about how maybe bike advocates are all closeted bike thieves. I figured it’d be pretty ridiculous for someone to steal a Nice Ride and wondered whether people would take the bait.
Here’s how it went down. On the left is the Nice Ride station on Franklin and Nicollet where the bike was rented on Wednesday evening. On the right is the creepiest part of my apartment building, the laundry room, where I took the photos for my Craigslist post. You probably recognize those gnarly pipes sticking out at about knee height from the picture that made it into the Craigslist post.
For maximum effect, I duct taped over the bike’s logo and used a really ugly flash. NiceRide described the result as looking like “a hostage situation” which is exactly what I was going for. After I took the photo I returned the bike (in under half an hour – no extra charges!) and created the ad using some wait-is-this-guy-serious? copy I wrote earlier in the day.
Then, I waited.
I considered planting a few indignant tweets or a Reddit post to get the ball rolling, but turns out that wasn’t necessary. Reddit picked up on it pretty quickly and Facebook and Twitter quickly followed.
— Aaron Landry (@s4xton) July 23, 2015
— Eric Roper (@StribRoper) July 23, 2015
With police dedicating manpower to parade duty, a family waits for answers about their missing loved one. pic.twitter.com/pkAoryvTgh
— Wedge LIVE! (@WedgeLIVE) July 23, 2015
— Alex Schieferdecker (@theschief) July 23, 2015
I also got a ton of email (named blacked out) before the post was taken down.
Most were angry:
“That bike is property of the state. It belongs to the state “nice ride” biking program. You should turn it in so they can have that back, before someone turns you in for having state property.”
“Niceride has been told, there might be legal authorities after you.”
“You must know that’s a rental bike and the cops have probably been altered to this ad? Give the bike back to the nice people at NiceRide….bike is probably chipped anyways and they are probably tracking it….probably outside now! Better check!”
Only one person actually tried to buy it:
“Hey, I’m interested in the bike if it’s still available … My daughters birthday is Friday I’d like to give it to her then if it’s still for sale please let me know if I shuld look for another one. Thks.”
Overall, I think it was a success. I felt a little bad on Wednesday evening when the email people said I would go to jail, but mostly I am in awe of how far this dumb prank went all on its own steam.
Tom Johnson is the editor of Stubble magazine.