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Watch the YouTube video of Jake Gillum confronting the alleged thief on YouTube
SEATTLE — Jake Gillum loves his bike. So when it got stolen in Portland while he was on a date, he was determined to get it back.
The quest seemed hopeless, but a week of poring over online postings for his 2009 carbon fiber Fuji paid off when he spotted the road bike offered for sale in Seattle. That sparked an elaborate interstate sting operation last weekend in which Gillum not only got his bicycle back but used it to chase down the suspect before police arrested him.
Gillum documented it all on YouTube with the username Simon Jackson.
"This is why you don't steal from bicyclists!" Gillum shouts as he trails the suspect while recording with his phone. "Because we care about our rides! Because I will go 160 miles to get my $2,500 bike back! You are going to jail!"
In an interview Thursday, the 28-year-old added: "Best feeling in the world, seeing that guy get locked in the police car."
The success of the sting heartened bicyclists around the world as the video spread. Such stings are far from unheard of, but they don't typically wind up on video that goes viral.
"People have a right to reclaim their stolen property. It belongs to them," said Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb. "Obviously, the first and best method to do that is through the police."
Gillum's ordeal began Aug. 3 in Portland when he realized his bike was missing and filed a police report. He has no car and uses it to travel to odd jobs and yard work around town, as well as for exercise. Over the next week, he checked online obsessively and on Aug. 9 saw it advertised in Seattle.
Gillum and two friends, Chris Williams and Williams' younger brother, Shannon Hardie, created the online persona Simon Jackson with a fake email account. They also used a cellphone app to call the seller and make it appear they were calling from Seattle. When the seller sent photos of the bike, Gillum became even more certain it was his.
The trio drove north and met the seller outside a grocery store. The others called police as Gillum started chatting with the seller, later identified as Craig Eric Ackerman, also of Portland.
When Gillum says police are on the way, Ackerman runs away, so Gillum hops on his newly recovered bike and starts chasing.
Police arrived and arrested Ackerman for investigation of possessing and trafficking in stolen property. He has not been charged.