It’s been quite a while since I posted on anything on the BGI Blog, and my last post was about my super cool, way fancy, totally awesome Garmin Edge 705 GPS. Soon I’ll be doing some posts about winter bike commuting in Indy, but I have a very valuable story to tell before I do that….

Early in December I rode my bike to school. It was a chilly day, probably about 25 degrees, and various plastic accessories on my bike were buckling under the cold. When I arrived at school, the little bracket for my cable lock broke. While fussing with it, I also removed my computer (the Garmin) from its bracket. I must have placed the computer on the rear rack while I futzed with my lock. I finally got my ride locked and, seeing I was running late, I grabbed my bags and headed inside to get changed for classes.

About six hours later I headed outside to get on my bike and ride home. I discovered my GPS was not in my bags. It was not in my pockets. It was not on my bike. It was not near the bike rack. It was not in my office. It was gone. I put out an APB at the Butler School of Music and many people looked for it, but to no avail. It was completely gone. I gave it a couple days to turn up, and finally filed a stolen property report with the BUPD. You should have seen the look on the officer’s face when I explained what it was, that it was for a bicycle (yes, officer, a bicycle) and the approximate value. So that was the end of it. I was depressed.

I put an APB with all my colleagues at BGI, and one friend posted on a local cycling blog. Still nothing.

I checked Craig’s List and eBay. Still nothing.

So, then, last Saturday, I did a different search on eBay. I searched by the specific unit and didn’t pay any attention to location. Previously I’d searched and then sorted by "distance from buyer". Bingo. I saw a very, VERY fishy post from someone in Illinois trying to sell a 705. There was no stock photo, it was being sold "without a charger or holster," and there was zero useful information on how the gps actually worked. It was very fishy.

The stock photo

So, I did a super quick Google search with part of the seller’s name, Butler University, and the location of the seller. Bingo…an article from the Butler website popped up with the seller’s full name. A quick Facebook status update and in about 30 minutes I had a mutual friend who knew this guy call me, agreeing to work as a kind of mediator.

In exchange for this young man sending me the unit via FedEx and removing the eBay post, I agreed not to press any charges and remove the stolen property report from BUPD.

I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve (also my birthday) and I have just received my beloved GPS in tact, working perfectly, and without any damage whatsoever.

It is all happy, but I thought I should share this experience with you for a couple reasons. First, I learned a lot and was very fortunate to be able to track down the seller on my own and get the unit back. That said, if I hadn’t, it would have been sold. Second, and most important, here’s what COULD have happened…..

When I filed the police report, I also contacted Garmin. They said as long as I had the serial number and could email them a copy of the police report, they would tag my account. If my 705 had been sold, it is very likely that the new owner would have tried to register the unit, or at least update the software. At that time Garmin would have recalled the unit for "repair" and worked with BUPD to get the item back. This young college student would have been on the hook for selling stolen property, and it’s entirely possible that I would have eventually gotten it back anyway.

Here’s what else I learned: Even though my account was flagged, that’s about all Garmin could do. The unit does NOT emit any kind of signal to enable Garmin to track it. Ironic that a sophisticated GPS can get "lost" ain’t it? In my next email to customer support I’m going to suggest adding this feature for a couple reasons. The first is in case of theft, but the other reason is for those of us who use the 705 on extended cyclotouring adventures. If I got into a serious bike crash and was keeled over on the side of the road on a solo tour, relatives could alert Garmin that I have been MIA for an extended period of time and they could track me down, potentially saving my life. Hmmm, that could be a nice little marketing bit, dontchya think?

So, I’ve learned many lessons at the end of 2009. I’m looking forward to getting back on my bike, now that I won’t get lost, and I’ll be super-gluing my 705 to my nose.

Stay safe, keep the rubber side down, and remember that a clean bike is a happy bike!

brian