Awkward Moment Inspires Website to Help Find Stolen Bikes

PHOTO: Seth Archambault was inspired to create DetroitBikeBlacklist.com after discovering that the bike he bought was stolen.

Imagine someone coming up to you and saying, "Your bike used to be mine." Inspired by his own awkward run-in with his bike's former owner, one man came up with a creative way to help others find their stolen bikes.

Seth Archambault of Detroit, Michigan, was sitting in a cafe drinking a cup of coffee when a man approached him and asked about his bike.

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"This guy just came up to me and introduced himself, and he asked me if that bike outside was mine," Archambault, 31, told ABC News. "And I said it was, and he said, 'It used to be my bike.'"

It turned out the man's bike was stolen at a market. The bike was later donated to a bike shop, where Archambault purchased it.

"At first I was shocked. If this is this guy’s bike, it’s really not mine at all," Archambault recalled. "But before I could get too long in that line of thought, he says, 'I don’t want it back. I‘m just happy to see that it has a nice home.'"

Archambault, who does photography, video, and web development for a company that implements projects for social organizations, left the cafe feeling relieved. They exchanged emails and became friends on Facebook, but Archambault was also inspired to do something positive.

"If you see something that's interacting with the world negatively, you should look for a way to change that," Archambault said. "In my case, I make websites so that was my way to contribute."

Archambault launched his website, Detroit Bike Blacklist, on Wednesday, the one year anniversary of his move to Detroit. Anyone from Detroit can upload a photo and a description of their bike that was stolen. They then receive a link to their posting on the site that they can share with friends and on social media.

People and bike shops can also look through the postings to determine if they received or purchased a stolen bike.

"It’s a traumatic experience to get your bike stolen," Archambault said. "If you could recover someone's bike or help recover someone's bike, that’s a magical thing."

While he said he's gotten an incredible response from people in Detroit about the website, Archambault doesn't yet have plans to go national.

"My plans right now are making it work for Detroit," he said. "One of my intentions on the site is to get the data on bike theft. I want people to understand more about bike theft and to get a dialogue more about the underlying causes and to spread awareness and make sure people are locking up carefully."

And the man who told Archambault that his bike was the same one that was stolen from him was also happy to hear about Archambault's website.

"I sent it out. He was excited about it," Archambault said. "That’s my experience here in Detroit. People are nice."

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