Woman Condemns Thieves With Huge Sign Outside Home... Then the Doorbell Rings


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A New York City woman who was victimized by a bike thief in early March decided to publicize the loss with a large sign on the front of her Brooklyn brownstone rental.

And got a lot more than she bargained for in return.

Describing about the experience in a piece published by The Washington Post on Friday, Amanda Needham said she never expected to get anything out of the effort.

But even if it didn’t get her $200 bike back, it might serve a purpose for someone else.

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“I felt a little foolish writing the sign,” she wrote. “After all, if my husband and I had spent nearly as much time double securing my bicycle as I did writing the sign, I might not be in the situation. But I knew other people’s bicycles had been stolen in the neighborhood, and the least I could do was acknowledge what had happened. I left it up for seven days.”

It was a week that changed her view of humanity.

The first people to respond were two young black men carrying a mountain bike “fit for a teen,” Needham wrote.

She tried to decline their offer to give her the bike, but eventually relented. It wasn’t exactly what she could use, but that wasn’t the issue.

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“(I)t wasn’t about the bicycle, it was about their desire to help,” she wrote. “I accepted, touched by the humanity of the gesture.”

The next to respond was a middle-aged Hispanic woman, Needham wrote. The woman didn’t have a bike handy, but did offer to help. It really is the thought that counts.

“This sign was changing things,” Needham wrote. “So much decency was pouring out from such a simple gesture of opening myself up to the universe.”

It was about to get better. Needham’s final respondent was an “energetic, salt-and-pepper haired white guy.”

He didn’t have a bike with him either, but he did describe himself as an art dealer who thought her sign could be worth something on the open market, and was working on Instagram with an antiques dealer in Britain who thought the same.

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Small world, isn’t it?

The dealer’s name was Stephen Powers, and he’d posted a photo of Neeham’s sign on Instagram.

Coincidentally, Powers thought the sign might be worth $200 to Needham. She accepted the offer, which basically put her right as far as the loss of the bike went. But there was more to it than that.

“First of all, I had $200 in cash that I actually needed if I’d ever be able to afford a new bicycle,” she wrote. “But I was also part of a wave of goodness that felt beautiful and real and inspiring. I realized I didn’t want it to just stop with me.”

She took the bike the bike the two men had given her to a neighborhood mechanic, with the idea of fixing it up and getting it to someone else who needed it, hoping that one good deed would be repaid with another. (Good deeds have a way of coming back to the doer.)

So it’s a nice neighborhood story about loss and recovery, populated by a cast of characters diverse enough to make up a Benneton ad. While the bike thief seems to have gotten away with it (and no one likes a bike thief), it even has a happy ending. (It could be a very happy ending for that art dealer and his British business partner, if someone decides Needham’s primitive art work is worth a good deal more than $200.)

And even though it has plenty of modern touches — like an international Instagram angle — the lesson is as timeless as the cave paintings of southern France and the petroglyphs of southern Utah.

It pays to advertise.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.