Wednesday March 16, 2016

Meet Bike Batman, the anonymous hero who returns stolen bikes to the citizens of Seattle

Bike Batman asks that his name be withheld so he can continue his work, but he did share this picture.

Bike Batman asks that his name be withheld so he can continue his work, but he did share this picture. (Supplied)

Listen 5:02

When bicycles go missing in Seattle, it's almost like a signal goes out to summon a vigilante of justice. He's known as Bike Batman.

"The only reason I do this is because it's the right thing to do." -Bike Batman

By day, he's a mild-mannered engineer in his 30s. But when the sun sets, he becomes a capeless-crusader, quietly tracking down stolen bicycles.

He tells As It Happens host Carol Off that his activities started almost by accident,

"I was looking for a bicycle and I found it on Craigslist . . . and the seller had a hard time communicating technical aspects of the bike, which were pretty common knowledge."

The cheap price of the bike was another red flag for Bike Batman. After doing some research on the tracking site Bike Index, he found the owner. So he went to confront the thieves.

"I had no idea what I was doing," says Bike Batman, "I attempted to dial the police and my phone didn't work."

Instead of getting physical, he bluffed. "I told these three guys, 'You've got two options. You can beat it or wait here for the cops."

He works in tandem with the Seattle Police Department. According to The Seattle Times, Bike Batman has returned a total of 22 bicycles and his stings have resulted in at least a dozen arrests since he started his crusade last year. 

bike batman

The vigilante known as Bike Batman has recovered 22 bicycles since he started his his campaign against bike thieves in 2015. (CBC)

As for his nickname, a police officer initially suggested he be called Robin Hood. While he prefers the Batman moniker, he's quick to point out the name is somewhat deceiving.

"I really don't like either one of those [names] because it implies I'm out punching bad guys," he says. "In reality, doing this is really boring. There's a lot of waiting and a lot of text messaging."

His wife has asked him not to continue putting himself in danger, but he says there is a need for someone like him to act, since police are swamped with more serious crime.

"The only reason I do this is because it's the right thing to do. It felt really good for me to see these people reunited with their stuff."

Bike Batman has asked for his true identity to be kept a secret, so that he can continue busting bike thieves. But his other reason is more practical,

"A few people in my office know I do this and think I'm a total weirdo. I've gotta keep some form of professional demeanour."