Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unlocked Bike Borrowed Without Permission Is Stolen; Who Is Responsible?

Dear Tazi:

My brother had a brand new bike that he bought with his own money. It cost a lot of money, and he was planning on using it to bike ride across the country this summer. He keeps it in an unlocked shed in our backyard, even though our parents keep telling him he needs to lock up the shed or the bike so it doesn't get stolen. He did neither.

I decided to teach him a lesson by borrowing the bike to go to the store. Since there was no lock on it and I was only going to go inside for a minute or two, the bike was unchained but in full view of the store windows. I must have looked away at the wrong moment because when I came back outside five minutes later my brother's bike was gone! Someone had stolen it!

I walked home from the store with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and when I got home I discovered that my brother had found his bike missing and called the cops to report it stolen. Now, technically the bike was stolen, just not from the shed in our backyard. Our parents have told my brother to "chalk the loss up to experience" and to learn to lock up his valuables. My brother's summer plans are toast, since he would have to spend the money he has saved for his trip on a new bike and then would have no money for the trip anyway.

I want to offer my brother some money towards a new bike, but even if I did it wouldn't be enough to cover both the cost of a new bike and the trip he wants to take so I haven't yet. If I tell my family that I took the bike from the shed and that it was stolen from the store I would be on the hook for the entire amount of a new bike, which I don't have, plus my brother would kill me and my parents would ground me for life. All I wanted to do was teach my brother a lesson, not ruin his whole summer. How can I make things right?

No Wheels

Dear No Wheels:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive! I can understand your motivation, but it was not your place to teach your brother a lesson; in doing so, you have both learned one. Your guilty conscience is not going to disappear all on its own; you will have to come clean about your part in the bike theft for several reasons, starting with the fact that it is the ethical thing to do and ending with the possibility that the store from where the bike was stolen has security cameras that recorded the bike being stolen. By keeping quiet you are are leading the police down the wrong path.

You do not say if your brother's bike was insured under your parent's homeowner's insurance policy, but it would be worth finding out if the loss is covered. Again, in order to make this inquiry you have to admit your part in the wrongdoing. There is no easy way out of what you have done, so suck it up, buttercup, and go directly to your parents with the truth. You will have to pay for a replacement bike for your brother. Summer is still several months away, and there is a lot of snow shoveling and/or yard-work that can be completed between now and then, as well as other odd jobs where you could earn the money to compensate your brother for his loss. You may have to ask your parents to loan you the money until you have earned enough to pay for the bike if you cannot earn enough on your own by summer.

As for your brother, he is not going to kill you; a murder charge would surely ruin his summer plans worse than a stolen bike ever could. He will be very angry with you, and that is his right; however, I believe he has learned the importance of locking his bike at all times. It appears that he has also learned that he cannot trust you. This will be a lesson that is hard to unlearn; you have a lot of making up to do for him. I suggest that you start now by coming clean!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

No comments:

Post a Comment