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Stolen bike returned to Halifax woman, with bit of detective work

Franziska Broell shows her recently returned bike outside her Halifax home on Tuesday afternoon. The bike was stolen last week and Boell tracked it down through social media. RYAN TAPLIN • THE CHRONICLE HERALD
Franziska Broell shows her recently returned bike outside her Halifax home on Tuesday afternoon. The bike was stolen last week and Boell tracked it down through social media. RYAN TAPLIN • THE CHRONICLE HERALD - The Chronicle Herald

Franziska Broell reclaimed her stolen red bicycle, and it took her less than 24 hours.

Twenty-three hours elapsed between the time she discovered her stylish red bike missing and the moment she had it delivered to her Quinpool Road doorstep early Tuesday afternoon.

Credit her relentless detective work. But the native of Germany, who’s made Halifax her home for the last eight years, prefers heaping praise on a Haligonian bike community that swiftly came to her rescue following a desperate Facebook post.

“I find it amazing and I can’t believe that everyone was so helpful in trying to find my stolen bike,” recalled Broell. “It’s indicative of what I’ve found in this city’s bike community. There’s an unspoken bond between bikers, I think, that most of us are connected somehow.”

Broell had just arrived home from a weeklong trip at 2 p.m. Monday, when she noticed her Miele bicycle was missing from her front porch.

She panicked and immediately reported the theft to Halifax Regional Police. It would be 24 to 36 hours before she could expect an officer to look into it. In the meantime, the oceanographer went to work.

Three hours on her computer was all she needed to find the man who had found her distinctive bike on Facebook and purchased it for a measly $30.

It was a happy outcome requiring help. In a matter of days the bike was sold on Kijiji and flipped again on a Facebook retail page.

Broell began her search on 

Kijiji, where she posted a picture of the bike with a plea for help. Responses were almost instantaneous. Someone had seen the bike for sale on the site just a few days before. Another source provided her enough information to prove the bike had already been sold.

Undeterred, Broell moved on to Facebook, where she posted practically the same plea for help, picture and all, on the Halifax Cycle Chat page. Once again, help came rolling in.

One member had not only seen Broell’s bike for sale on a local Facebook Marketplace page, but he had made inquiries to buy it. So, armed with the seller’s contact info, she went straight to the source.

The man told Broell he had no idea the bike was stolen when he purchased it on Kijiji but it didn’t matter because he had already flipped it by the time she got in touch. But he was good enough to reach out to the buyer and the buyer was glad to give the bike back to Broell.

“He even offered to fix the brakes on the bike for me,” she said with a laugh. “From the time I realized the bike was stolen at about 2 p.m. to the time I learned I was getting it back, that was within three hours.”

Meanwhile, she had been keeping the police abreast of her findings. Since she bought the bike eight years ago, Broell had stored her prized possession on her porch, unlocked and without incident. She promises to keep it inside her home from now on.

“I’m very trusting. I would never leave my bike downtown unlocked. Where I’m living it was out of sight so I wouldn’t expect someone to walk on the property and take it. It was also a comforting feeling to know I could do that. It says something about the way I feel about Halifax.”

But there was no way that Broell was going to let her bike go without a fight. It’s one of her only prized possessions, having never had a problem with the bike in the years since she bought it used on Kijiji.

“I’d be lost without it. It’s my commuter bike. It rides perfectly and has so much character.

“I’m just so grateful that so many people realized how important this bike is to me and went through all the trouble of helping me get it back.”

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