tv 2020 ABC July 3, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
that's it for "what would you do?" but as you can see the party here goes on. and so does abc news. "20/20" starts right now. "20/20" is in hot pursuit of thieves. >> the window is smashed. it's gone. >> their pipeline of stolen property, from the street to storage to flea markets. itching to get your hands on the latest smartphone? these guys are snatching them up. how about an expensive mountain bike? he's looking for a steal on wheels. or maybe it's a shiny new
six-string guitar. >> there's a special place in hell for people that steal musical instruments. >> people that went searching for a big score. and wound up getting more than they bargained for. because when they steal it. >> on the move. >> we track it to the the packed warehouses. so, get ready. "20/20"'s chase is on. hot pursuit. here now, elizabeth vargas and david muir. >> good evening, tonight we're taking you inside a huge black market that you haven't seen before. something perhaps stolen of
yours, then re-sold. >> everything from bikes to tablets to iphones, snatched out of your home or car. so, take a look as we show you how to catch a thief. here's gio benitez in hot pursuit. >> reporter: the city is san francisco. many have left their hearts here, but leave anything else and, well -- name it. we heard it over the past year. cell phones, computers, bikes even guitars. all stolen. >> living in a big city, theft is just a part of city life. >> random theft, you know, bikes, cars. >> my antenna on my car has been stolen. >> break-ins. >> everyone gets their bike stolen. >> reporter: the victims of thescrimes rarely ever see their stuff again, until tonight. it's time for a hot pursuit. we thought it was high time to turn the tables.
so we got a bunch of merchandise. brand new tablets, high end purses, these expensive marin bikes, and a shiny six-string. >> they brought me five bicycles and a really nice acoustic guitar. >> reporter: next, we visit jason cecchettini. he's a professional tracker. >> i think that'll work nice. i think we can fit a small tracking transmitter in here very easily. i don't think we'll have any problem getting it stolen. >> reporter: and when it is snatched -- >> you hear that, guys? we got a signal. >> reporter: jason's technology goes way beyond regular gps software. he's armed with a radio receiver that can pinpoint our loot within a few feet. >> that signal will lead us right to where the transmitter is located. >> reporter: our plan, to drop our tempting merchandise all over the city with jason's little surprise inside. >> little do they know we have tracking devices on everything. >> reporter: and there's one more thing. >> we are going to have all of our hidden cameras also here. >> reporter: we'll be watching
it all unfold from this control center. >> it's like one of the hottest spots to get a bike ripped off. >> reporter: and "20/20"'s mobile command van, which we've camouflaged to blend in with this urban terrain. today i'm picking up dirty laundry. >> we have an eta of five minutes. >> reporter: but we begin our hunt for crooks high atop lombard street, considered the "crookedest" street in the world. >> gio's on location. do you copy? >> reporter: as we arrive, i decide to leave this samsung tablet in the back seat of this red cab. will the cabbie keep it or will it be returned? >> the tablet is in the red cab. >> reporter: the cab may be gone, but the tablet's inside. and we're tracking it. i'm also here to pick up one of our marin bait bikes. this bad boy is worth upwards of $1,000. but first, my crazy attempt to navigate down these eight, tight, hairpin turns. a little too dangerous for me. >> he's walking his bike down.
he's having a hard time doing the hill. >> reporter: this officer walks the mean streets and back alleys of san francisco every day. >> you got to go. this isn't a place to hang out. this is the 2000 block of mission. >> reporter: bike theft in san francisco isn't just a nuisance, it's an epidemic. many victims depend on their bikes as their primary mode of transportation. guys like app developer greg schuler. >> i've been robbed a total of four times. eight bicycles stolen out of my garage. >> you hear stories all the time, their bike has been ripped off two, three, four, five times. i just don't what i need to do to get the attention about this issue. i'm just really frustrated. >> reporter: so, he began recording his break-ins. these are the last three caught on camera. yet no arrests.
no leads. >> at least we could see the person that did it. >> reporter: and where do a lot of stolen bikes end up? here on the outskirts of san francisco, past an old abandoned naval yard. this is the evidence warehouse where they keep all these bikes. there's a sprawling police warehouse. how many bikes do you think are in here? >> 500. >> reporter: about 500. if you want to know how big the problem is here in san francisco, just look. these images speak volumes. bike after bike after bike after bike. some estimated to be worth thousands. others simply unique to their owners. look at thisight here, this furry purple bike. most of these bikes will never be returned. all of these are stolen, we're told. and then eventually recovered by police and they all end up right here. other hot wheels get stripped down and sold for parts making the evidence harder to trace and easier to re-sell. where did you get the wheels?
>> street. >> there are thousands of these guys running around the city stripping bikes. >> reporter: nowhere is the booming economy for bike parts more stunning than here beneath this freeway underpass in the city's mission district. how come you are taping up the frame? it's a makeshift "chop shop" and it's where we meet this wheeler dealer named "junior" who gave us the skinny on the scene. >> why don't you get your stuff together and go, okay? >> it's my choice if i want to buy it or not. i was arrested three times for possession of stolen property. i buy it from people, i don't know where they get it from. >> reporter: so, look right there. one, two, three, four, five, you can't even count all these different parts. just sort of hanging out there, and eventually someone's going to buy them. "junior," telling us, he sells bike rims like these for pennies on the dollar.
>> one of these wheels in a store costs like $80. over here it's like $10, $20. >> he is out here every day dealing with this stuff. it is very hard to prove possession of stolen property when you are dealing with bike parts and people don't report their frames stolen. >> reporter: if any of this is making your blood boil, get a load of this. >> at least five wheels in there, right? >> reporter: last year, californians passed prop 47, reducing penalties and sentencing for non-violent crimes from felonies to mere misdemeanors. it was controversial among local law enforcement. and, if you think "junior" is one of those non-violent criminals just down on his luck -- >> domestic violence, possession of stolen property.
the guy has a got a long and lengthy rap sheet. a lot of those guys do. >> reporter: that brings us back to greg schuler's garage. he's ready to fight ba. allowing us to wheel in one of our bait bikes loaded with that high-tech tracking equipment. >> we've been robbed so many times, i'm not quite sure that someone's going to come back another time. >> reporter: we were skeptical, at first, too. could yet another break-in really happen again? when we come back. >> hi, i'd like to report a burglary. >> reporter: our bait bike gone. >> he saw the bike that was sitting here, grabbed this, quickly took it to the door. >> reporter: and our tracker on the hunt. >> i just had a beep. >> reporter: you had a beep. next, we follow the trail. tracking a stolen bike to a secret location out of town.
and another thief gets caught, red-handed. when hot pursuit returns. people with type 2 diabetes come from all walks of life. if you have high blood sugar, ask your doctor about farxiga. it's a different kind of medicine that works by removing some sugar from your body. along with diet and exercise, farxiga helps lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. with one pill a day, farxiga helps lower your a1c. and, although it's not a weight-loss or blood-pressure drug, farxiga may help you lose weight and may even lower blood pressure when used with certain diabetes medicines. do not take if allergic to farxiga or its ingredients. symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing. if you have any of these symptoms, stop taking farxiga and seek medical help right away.
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the heart of an incurable rash of bike thefts. >> they will probably cut the cable, take the bike and ride away. >> reporter: this is roll call at mission station, where local police have launched their own bait bike program. >> if someone is arrested, we will go back to mission operation. this is basically a buy-bust operation. >> reporter: today they're working with "20/20" to catch a thief in the act. they dirty up one of our pristine bait bikes so it doesn't look brand new. use one of their guys in plain clothes to plant our wheels. >> all units, bike drop. >> i just activated the gps. >> reporter: and have undercover cops stationed all around this plaza at 16th and mission. for their safety, we're blurring their faces. >> you guys have my signal good? >> that's affirmative. >> reporter: will someone be so brazen to actually attempt to
steal a thousand-dollar bike in broad daylight? we lie in wait. >> reporter: the cops are perched in this office right above the bike rack. >> i'll let you know when i have eyes on. >> reporter: our eye in the sky, this robotic hidden camera. and we're monitoring it all from our trusty mobile command van. >> eyes on him. >> reporter: it doesn't take long. >> these guys are coming back. they're looking. really analyzing it. >> reporter: within minutes the sharks begin to circle. >> seemed like one of those guys had a tool tucked into his shirt. >> reporter: but who will bite the bait? let's zoom in on this guy here. >> reporter: this guy seems curious, but walks away only to reappear several minutes later. >> that guy in the grey shirt and green shorts looked right at the bike and passed it twice. >> reporter: it's five past
noon, the bike has been sitting there barely an hour when suddenly -- >> latin male, blue t-shirt, he just cut the lock. >> here we go, here we go! on the move, on the move. he's got it. on the move, on the move. >> reporter: he's on that bike, and boy, can he pedal. >> northwest corner of 16th and harrison. >> chase vehicle has him. he just took a left. >> he's right in that area, 16th and harrison. >> you got any weapons? >> suspect is in custody. >> reporter: police finally put the brakes on this crook's joyride. >> why'd you do it? we saw you walk by twice, look at that bike, you had to come back to get it, huh? >> reporter: his name is lonnie pierce. and he's no stranger to cops. in fact, he's on matt friedman's "wall of shame" -- people previously arrested for bike theft. it's not your first time, is it? was it worth all of this? a bike? so that's one bike ripped off and recovered. but how about that one in greg schuler's garage? our cameras are rolling for just
32 hours when this burglar comes creeping. >> hi, i'd like to report a burglary that happened last night. >> reporter: this morning when he came in, he just had to push the door open. he didn't have to do any additional breaking of this door. it's like getting your car stolen, but almost a little more personal. we just need to find some way to get to the bottom of who is doing these thefts. >> it's usually because bikes are the quickest that they can sell. >> he came around here, put the bike over there, leaned it against the trash can. >> that's possibly his palm print right there. >> he saw the bike that was sitting here, grabbed this, quickly took it to the door. and quickly exited through the door. >> reporter: while the cops look for a thief, we want to know what's happened to that stolen bike. the chase is on. we are in hot pursuit. so what do we know about greg's bike? >> it was stolen around 5:00 this morning, ridden around san francisco for about 20 minutes.
>> reporter: and taken here, to u.n. plaza, amazingly, just steps from city hall. a well known black market right under the mayor's nose where stolen stuff gets fenced. in the light of day. >> you got eggplants on this side, you got pie on this side. farmer's market. >> everybody's here. >> reporter: ray kilroy is a former san francisco police lieutenant working as a consultant for "20/20." >> but what happens over there? >> you name it and you can buy it. >> reporter: hot iphones, ipads, jewelry -- and all too often, freshly stolen bikes. >> you can see there is a large group of bike people who are just looking to buy bikes and there is another group that are the electronic buyers. >> reporter: guys like "phil," who openly told us here in u.n. plaza there's a don't ask, don't tell policy. >> it's basically a swap shop. people get things and they come here and sell it. >> so we got all these officers
here. >> they don't do anything. >> they don't do anything? >> reporter: but just as "phil" spoke those very words -- cops were questioning this guy in possession of, yeah, another stolen bike. >> we don't even need a tracking device for this one because the cops are here and they are seeing it. they are seeing the bike, they are looking at it. they know it's stolen. >> reporter: police don't make an arrest here because they say they can't prove this guy is the actual thief. so he just walks away because? >> he's on probation so -- if he's one that stole it, they'll put a warrant out for his arrest. >> reporter: but even when a thief is caught on camera red-handed, they are often a step ahead. we know our bait bike was stolen from greg schuler's garage just before dawn and brought to u.n. plaza. an hour later, it was shipped out of the city, out of police jurisdiction. >> it appears as if it's in a storage facility in oakland.
>> reporter: but this time we are right on their heels. we know the exact location of that storage facility. >> he rolled in the gate of the storage unit at 5:47. >> i just had a beep. >> you had a beep. >> that's the bicycle hollering at us. >> reporter: we tip off the cops. >> i am 100% sure it is in that unit. >> reporter: but will they make it to this warehouse in time? when we come back, it's not just bikes but musical instruments in hot demand. >> reporter: when "20/20"'s "hot pursuit" continues. >> have you had your bike or laptop stolen? and more importantly, did the police help you get it back? let us know on twitter. >> use #abc2020. david and i will be right back. before fibromyalgia, i was the go-to person. i was energetic.
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hot pursuit continues. once again, gio benitez. ♪ ♪ if you're going to san francisco ♪ >> reporter: just like the famous song says -- ♪ be sure to wear some flowers in your hair ♪ >> reporter: -- ever since the days of the flower children, haight ashbury's been the musical heart of san francisco. and tonight, at the milk bar here, what they're playing might as well be the anthem for hot pursuit. ♪ that night you broke into my car stole my first and favorite guitar ♪ ♪ with it you stole a large piece of my heart ♪ >> reporter: it's called "my stolen guitar," written by sam chase after someone swiped a lot more than just his instrument. it was his first guitar, his livelihood, his passion. ♪ ♪ so there's a special place in hell for you if my guitar never finds its way home ♪
>> i think there's a special place in hell for people who steal musical instruments specifically. it's not like we make a lot of money doing this. musicians are here because they love to make music. >> reporter: it's like a million other theft stories in this city. it started with sam just parking his car. >> it was the middle of the day, and i had my guitar in the back of the car. i parked it in a pretty nice neighborhood. >> reporter: not nice enough. when he returned, his eyes saw the broken glass and he started singing the blues. >> it was that gut wrenching feeling to know that something i cherished so much i was never going to see again. >> reporter: all he has now is the song. ♪ there's a special place in hell for you if you hurt anyone like me again ♪ >> once you have your instrument stolen, and you start talking about it with other musicians, you realize that everybody here has had their instruments stolen. >> reporter: would you believe this high school marching band
playing before a giants game had dozens of instruments stolen from the parking lot outside? ♪ and then there's accomplished violinist emily cox. >> i had never been a victim of crime before. pretty vanilla. >> reporter: she was studying at the famed san francisco conservatory of music. the proud owner of a $20,000 violin, bought for her by her parents. >> it's irreplaceable. >> reporter: never imagining she was at risk, she left her treasure in this practice room when she went for a quick walk down the hall. it was plenty of time for a thief lurking inside. he snatched the violin, hustled out the doors and down the block to a nearby metro station. only one problem -- >> that's our boy! >> reporter: surveillance cameras were rolling when he boarded this train. that's emily's violin case strapped to his back.
>> she says the violin is insured but that's not the point. >> reporter: after intense media coverage, about two weeks later, the man dropped the violin off at this nearby church. >> i couldn't believe i actually got it back. >> reporter: could we recover a stolen instrument? we wanted to find out, so we bought that shiny new fender acoustic at the renowned haight ashbury guitar shop and brought it to our tracker, jason cecchatini. >> i think that will work nice. >> reporter: next, we carefully apply labels to the guitar with a name and phone number to contact so anybody who wanted to return it surely could. now, after a final check of the tracking device -- >> good to go. >> reporter: -- we put the guitar in this muscle car and head back to haight ashbury. >> they are approaching haight. >> reporter: we left it like an absent-minded musician might, doors unlocked, windows down and
the guitar in plain view on the passenger seat. >> it seems amazing that someone might steal something even though a lot of people are walking by, but you never know. >> reporter: we get some lookers. but no takers until we move the car to another spot. you are talking with the guitar right now? >> exactly. i am talking to the guitar right now live. >> reporter: it's early morning, not even 8:00 a.m., but this woman and her partner are ready for some finger picking while our guitar gently weeps. >> i just got a text message telling me that it is moving. >> reporter: they think they're making off with easy money. >> let's go. >> reporter: but we are in hot pursuit as the stolen six-string disappears around the corner. >> we are definitely getting closer to the guitar at this point. >> reporter: within minutes, we come face to face with a woman who filched our fender.
but she no longer has it. >> hey, there. where is that guitar? the guitar you were caught on camera stealing from the car? >> well -- >> reporter: busted. we're with abc news and we have been tracking that car. >> really? >> reporter: yeah. >> can i give it back without getting a felony? >> you should give it back to us. >> reporter: she calls herself smiley. she tells us she sold the guitar to someone else who has already tried to pawn it at a shop right next to where we're standing. >> how much money did you get for it? >> like 20 bucks. >> you sold it for 20 bucks? >> reporter: smiley was honest. that's what's really interesting about it. the guy who stole the bike, he knew what he did, but he certainly didn't want to talk about it. smiley did. she talked about it. she said what she did and she helped get it back. let's get that guitar back. >> all right. >> reporter: pawn shops once were loaded with stolen goods, but cops tell us no more.
here, they went by the book. they were going to alert the police about the guitar. instead, they happily turn it over to us. >> there's the guitar. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: you hadn't even seen it? >> it could have been a case. give me $20, i don't know. can i take it with me to prison? >> reporter: do you realize you wanted 20 bucks for it, it's worth about $400? >> you recovered it? good on ya! it's probably a nice guitar! it's worth keeping, you know? it's worth getting it back. >> oh, look. if you look on the inside, you'll see that there's a tracker on it. >> reporter: oh, you're seeing the tracker now. >> well, i didn't see nothing but the 20 bucks. i apologize. >> reporter: yeah, there it is right there. >> hi. i'm right here. that's [ bleep ] up. is this america's dumbest criminals or what? >> reporter: in no time, though, smiley goes from making us laugh
to touching our hearts. >> it could have been a setup or whatever, but i was really hungry and i wanted some drugs. >> reporter: she tells us she stole because of her addiction to drugs and recent struggles in life. so, you're in a hard place. >> yeah, i been in a hard place for a while. i'm just going to self destruct. i hate it here. >> reporter: are you learning right now? >> i learn every step of the way. >> reporter: we will check in with smiley again later. but first -- some high-tech hijinks. as we play lost and found with those purses and tablets. wwe go from a theater to a dumpster to an apartment across the bay. when "20/20"'s hot pursuit continues. treat time fun. of new ways to make
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"20/20" is in hot pursuit. here again, gio benitez. >> reporter: if there's one thing we thought for sure would get stolen here in san francisco, it's a tablet like this. after all, the statistics are staggering. every 53 seconds a laptop is stolen in this country. and about 3 million phones a year are also stolen. >> i just never thought something like that can happen to me. >> reporter: ahryun moon was going through a common san franciscan ritual, sitting in this cafe in the rapidly gentrifying tenderloin neighborhood, working on her computer under the waft of fair trade beans. next to her, an unassuming patron. >> i didn't pay too much attention to her.
>> reporter: moon was comfortable in her surroundings, perhaps a little too comfortable. watch what happens when she gets up to go to the bathroom. that woman in the striped sweater sitting next to her springs into action. >> my computer, and my iphone were gone. >> reporter: the video of the theft was posted online, and ended up going viral, leading eventually to the woman getting busted. >> public places have to be safe enough to where you trust your neighbor. >> reporter: but are they? we wanted to put brotherly love to the test in a very public place. why not try to get this stolen here at fisherman's wharf? after all, where there's tourist, there's got to be thieves, right? using our tablets and purses equipped with tracking devices and contact information affixed we set up shop at lou's fish shack where the staff is ready and eager to help us reel in any criminal catches. >> when we sit guests down we always let them know they shouldn't have their phones on the table.
>> reporter: good advice, we're going to ignore. our sting is simple. i take a seat outside and bask in the san franciscan sun, while scrolling through the news feed ringing the dinner bell if you will. after a few minutes, it's time to leave the table. >> gio has left his table, roger. >> reporter: and whoops, i leave my tablet behind. almost immediately, the abandoned tablet is spotted. >> woman is eyeing tablet. guy is checking out tablet. >> reporter: but then something happens that would make ahryun moon proud. people are concerned about the orphaned device. stopping, pointing, looking for the owner. this woman even picks it up and brings it to the manager! time to up the ante. we send out one of our producers to add a purse to the mix. >> we have movement, we have movement. >> reporter: but, once again good samaritans swoop in before any thieves in the area can pounce. there's a lot of action on that sidewalk right now.
we decide to ditch the table and put the bag and tablet really out in the open. yeah, that tablet is really visible, sticking out. on the sidewalk, fail. how about the top of that newspaper stand? fail! we can't give this sucker away. one of our do-gooders, vanessa teran, maybe spoke for all of our honest citizens. this was open right on the table, and you grabbed it but you didn't take it, you brought it back to a manager here. why? >> i didn't even question it. i know that somebody would be back for it, and would want it. i would want mine. so, yeah, that was it. >> reporter: and the good vibrations continued. remember the tablet i left inside the taxi i exited on lombard street? we drop it off. i get out of the car, what happens? >> shortly after that i get a text message, saying please call me. >> reporter: that's all it said, it said please call me, that's it? >> that's it. so hopefully it's the guy who has the tablet. >> reporter: and you know where it is right now? >> i know exactly where it is.
>> reporter: we arrive where jason has pinpointed the signal. >> gio, it appears that it is in this building right here. >> reporter: time to call the mystery number. and yeah, it's our cabbie. yes, yes. i did leave my tablet. you're not in the city? the tablet's here, but he isn't. so the next day the driver comes to our hotel and drops off the tablet, free of charge. so look at that, this is an honest cabbie who called us, and there you go, he just dropped it off right in front of our hotel. we tried the tablet two more times in the back of cabs, and wouldn't you know, two more honest cabbies contacted us and promptly returned the devices. >> it's not mine, it is my customer's. >> there you go, sir. >> reporter: it was the same with the purse we left at the castro theatre. >> your lost purse is in the manager's office at the castro theatre. >> reporter: it was returned to us, with the tablet inside. >> okay, so i'm going to activate the transmitter.
>> reporter: we were about to give up, when we decide to give it one more try at this amc theatre. and then bingo. our purse goes missing. >> we've actually tracked the radio signal to the trash compactor right behind this door. it's either the light blue purse or the leather cover for the tablet. and it's inside that trash compactor. after an exhaustive search of the trash compactor, we've identified one particular bag with a pretty strong radio signal. this would be the leather case. >> reporter: so, the only thing you found there was that cover? we've let our merchandise wander for four days. now the signal from the tablet is leading us across the bay. >> we are heading to the last known address of the tablet computer in oakland, california. >> reporter: when suddenly a different signal from another location nearby.
>> i can't believe we are getting the signal from the purse. the purse is transmitting from this apartment building, where, with help from the building's owner, we call the police. >> it's right there. >> right above us? >> yeah. >> all right. let's go upstairs. >> reporter: they enter this unit and voila, out comes our purse. >> and that's the purse that we spent so much time looking for so that's, yeah that's the tracker. >> that's awesome. >> reporter: satisfied with the purse recovery, the cops head out. but sadly there's no sign of the tablet that's also been sending a signal from the same neighborhood. but as we go to leave -- >> can i talk to you for a second? >> reporter: we come across one of the residents of the apartment. >> do you work for amc theaters? >> reporter: as fate would have it, he works for the cleaning company employed by the theater. so how did the purse end up in his pad?
>> reporter: he says someone gave him the purse, empty. there was no manager to return it to. so he brought it home then forgot to bring it back in the days that passed. >> reporter: police never charged him with any wrongdoing. >> next time you find a purse or any property be sure to turn it in to security. >> reporter: and unfortunately for us, that tablet signal soon goes dark. we walked away one tablet down, but we also learned even in a big city, some people are looking out for each other. but there's still that nagging mystery of greg schuler's garage, and our bike purloined while the cameras rolled after it made a stop at u.n. plaza, and moved to this storage facility, where will it end up? and with whom? >> -- really don't appreciate you putting the camera. >> reporter: so where did you get the bike? stay with us. our lashes grow?
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"20/20" continues with hot pursuit. once again, gio benitez. >> reporter: as the sun rises over california, it's a brand new day and a whole new ball game. >> so it's got to be beyond those buildings, huh? >> i think it's on the backside of these buildings. >> reporter: that bike stolen from greg schuler's garage has left an oakland storage facility and is on the move again. >> so everything changed overnight, man. it's 6:00 a.m. and it's been moving for two hours now? >> at 4:30 this morning it left the storage unit. it started moving around and went directly to the oakland coliseum. >> it's on the move right now, it's 6:00 a.m., we gotta get there or it might be sold. >> reporter: just minutes from the home of the oakland raiders,
a public flea market. some items are used, and police say others are hot. we go in with hidden cameras rolling, hunting for our bike. within minutes we find it for sale and buy it from this man for $200. >> we just found the bike, the marin bike we were looking for. now -- >> let's go, guys. let's go. >> reporter: it's time for me to get some answers. gio with abc news. >> i really don't appreciate you putting on the cameras. >> reporter: so where did you get the bike? >> i bought it yesterday. >> reporter: the seller's name is ricardo sandino. we are told he's a regular here. obviously, he doesn't look like the guy who stole our bike out of greg schuler's garage. still, we wanted to know how he got his hands on it. we've been tracking the bike and the bike was taken from that storage facility and was brought there after being taken from the garage. who did you buy the bike from? >> i bought it at the flea market in san jose. >> reporter: uh, no way, san jose. we know the bike was in that storage facility. remember, we tracked it there the night before.
actually it never went to san jose. we've been tracking it. how? it was in the storage facility. >> if you would have told me the bike was yours i'll give it to you for free! >> reporter: but we want more than our bike back. we want payback, literally. can i get my $200 back? >> yes, you can! yes you can, because i didn't know the bike was stolen. >> all right so we'll get the $200 back. >> shut that camera off and i'll give you the 200 bucks. >> reporter: so we got the bike back, that was a tense moment, he kept on saying it was bought at a san jose flea market. but that's way out there. that's not what happened here. the bike was never in san jose, we know that. that's our bike. >> that's it. >> reporter: when we went to bed last night we didn't expect this to happen. recently, we returned to san francisco to see what became of all the characters we came across.
so we are back at the coliseum swap shop. this is the flea market where we first met ricardo. and we are gonna walk in there, see if ricardo is in there. we were surprised to find ricardo sandino a no-show. let's call smiley. >> the number you have dialed is not in service. >> reporter: we also wondered what happened to the guitar thief we'd come to know as smiley. >> is this america's dumbest criminals, or what? >> smiley's not here, gio. she's gone. we checked all her locations. went in and showed their picture around to all the merchants. they knew her from before, but haven't seen her in the last couple of months. >> reporter: ray kilroy suggesting that might be a good thing. maybe confronting smiley scared her straight? wherever you are, good job. stay out of trouble. >> reporter: but even though smiley might have retired from her guitar picking, the beat goes on. ♪
>> reporter: but remember that san francisco conservatory where emily cox had her violin swiped? recently, it was hit again! security cameras catch this thief making off with two pricey guitars and so far they're still missing. and so is the tablet from the amc theater. the cleaning crew who ended up with our purse -- >> hello? >> reporter: -- didn't want to talk to us anymore. but the theater assures us "the conduct is unacceptable for anyone who sets foot in our theaters." finally, there's bike thief, lonnie pierce. >> you're not in a happy place right now, man. >> reporter: we caught up with him on the same block he stole our bait bike, claiming he's a new man. are you keeping clean these days? >> yes. >> reporter: no more bikes? >> no. >> reporter: as for theft victim greg schuler? >> i wish i could say the situation has gotten better.
but it's not. >> reporter: he is still without his stolen bikes and without answers. he wants to know who was that man who broke into his home? you just want to get this guy? >> oh, i would love to get this guy, get back one of my bikes. i don't see any action with these cases at all >> reporter: since the last break-in, schuler has spent thousands turning his home into a fortress, adding this huge wrought-iron gate -- you got the spikes up there, you aren't messing around. a new security system, and this metal door to his garage. >> inside you've got cameras. >> reporter: police say you can also prevent theft by -- writing down your bike's serial number. and take pictures of your bike like we did. they also suggest using a u-lock like this one. don't depend on cables. they can be snipped. >> these guys that we deal with carry around huge amounts of
tools and they will just walk around and work on a bike for literally less than a minute. >> reporter: as for our intrepid tracker, he's back in his workshop, a quiet crime fighter. you're helping cops every day? >> all across the country, there are police departments using this tracking equipment to catch the bad guys. >> reporter: as for us, stay tuned. "20/20" may come to your town next for another hot pursuit.
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after one year, skin looks ageless. iand at red lobster'se i like misland escape,ropical. i can try new dishes like the island seafood feast, with crab, lobster, jumbo sweet and spicy and coconut shrimp. so hurry in, it'll be gone before you know it. and that's our program for tonight. but tomorrow, on a special "20/20," diane sawyer will be back with her special interview
with caitlyn jenner. >> 20 million watched. >> are you ready? >> let's do it. >> all this time, you had something -- >> i had this story. >> now, this saturday night, see the interview that led up to this courageous cover, and started a national conversation. >> i want to know how this story ends, you know? how does my story end? >> saturday at 9:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. central, only on abc. >> i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. thanks for watching tonight. from all of us at abc news, have a great night and a safe fourth of july weekend.