How A Twitter Community Fights Injustice

Someone stole my bike

I love Elaine Ellis and have known her for a while now. Today I was absolutely shocked to find out that she owned a bike.

Elaine and I sharpened our chops at a local Boulder PR agency that not only got me my start but made me realize that the typical PR role wasn’t really for me…moving on.

When someone out there in the Boulder community had the audacity to take her beloved bicycle I was outraged and naturally wanted to do my part in any way to help her regain what was rightfully hers. My girlfriend went through the same ordeal not long ago so I know firsthand the heartache it can bring upon a person.

It all started on Saturday, with this tweet:

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Monday morning Elaine’s roommate Rachel (@wittytwit) got word that her office neighbors actually saw the bike theft go down. This actually prompted the initial post, “Have You Seen This Bike Thief.”

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This picture is really the only reason there was a fighting chance that Elaine would get her bike back so kudos.

At this point anyone who with a soul, a somewhat acceptable moral compass and part of the amazing Boulder Twitterati did their part and spread the word. I’m actually surprised @ElaineEllis wasn’t trending on Twitter. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picassa, Twitpic and even carrier pigeons out there were filled with the image of some guy with a towel on a bike.

All and all 138 people tweeted the message, 24 people shared it on Facebook and Elaine saw over 900 views on the article on her blog. By the time mid afternoon rolled around the suspect found himself a nickname (Dready Dave) and Elaine was filling out a police report. Not more than an hour or so later, @DanPierson (apparently a real Boulder badass who likes to visit Liquor Mart on Monday afternoons…Dan you’re my best friend) was requesting backup and knew the whereabouts of the suspect at large. Believe it or not it was the questionable looking towel that did Dready Dave in.

Even the CEO (@nielr1) of Trada where Elaine works rallied up a crew and marched down to 13th and Arapahoe to get in on the action.

Waiting for the Police to arrive, the gang followed Dready Dave at a safe distance. The 911 call was placed and within moments the authorities apprehended the suspect and Elaine was reunited with her glorious bike.

scaled How A Twitter Community Fights Injustice

Here’s what’s fascinating. A community of people that may or may not have really known each other focused around a sole purpose: find a stolen bike. This group formed within minutes from inside and outside of Boulder via social media. These people came together to help someone in their time of need RT’ing from their office (that would be me), commenting on Elaine’s blog, sharing her story with those on Facebook and even calling friends (how 20th Century) with the latest news.

From start to finish Elaine got her bike back within 7 hours of @danpierson exceptional sleuth skills.

Just another example of our amazing community taking care of itself.

Boulder, you rock.