Unlikely Friendship Forms over Bike Theft

Filed under “That Good News You Needed to Hear This Week,” an unlikely friendship has formed between a man whose expensive mountain bike was stolen and a Portland teenager who unwittingly purchased and tried to resell the bike from the thief.

Dan Wille contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office this week after seeing his stolen mountain bike posted for sale online. The seller, 16-year-old Rafael Bodnar, of Portland, had unknowingly paid $500 to buy the bike from the real thief, unaware that it was stolen.

Rafael was reportedly happy to drop the bike off at the Sheriff’s Office so it could be returned to its rightful owner — even though it meant he’d be out 500 bucks.

Rafael Bodner, 16, quickly agreed to return the bike to its rightful owner — even though it meant he’d be out 500 bucks. Photo courtesy the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies delivered the recovered bike to Wille yesterday at his residence. Wille was grateful, telling the deputies, “Thanks to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department … Rafael for returning the bike, the media for putting my story out there and getting my bike back to me as it was, and everyone else who sent photos and kept an eye out for my bike as well.”

James Lee Adkins.
In a twist worthy of Pixar, Wille and Rafael have since formed an unlikely friendship — communicating via text and bonding over their shared love of biking.

Wille, who’s well-connected within the local biking community, has offered to help Rafael get a job at a bike shop if he wants to get more experience as a mechanic and is also considering organizing a fundraiser to reimburse raise the $500 he lost in purchasing the stolen bike.

Investigators have identified the man responsible, a serial bike thief named James Lee Adkins, 33, of Portland, who is well-known to authorities. Adkins stole a bike in September after showing the seller an envelope with the agreed-upon purchase price of $900, then swapping it with an envelope of napkins when the victim wasn’t looking.

A couple of months later, he stole a mountain bike valued at $1,395 from a 12-year-old boy after, again, pretending to be interested in purchasing it and asking for a “test ride.” Both incidents took place at Clackamas Town Center — where Adkins was arrested in November for shoplifting and possession of methamphetamine.

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