09/09/2013 12:11 EDT | Updated 11/09/2013 05:12 EST

Stolen bike returned with help from social media

Hamza Bennis was approached by a man on the Plateau Friday night, offering to sell him a bike for $40.

Assuming the bike was stolen, he negotiated a lower price and set out to find the owner using online social network sites.

“I figured I would try to find the owner because it already happened to me and I would have liked for the person who found my bike to try and find me so I could buy it back,” says Bennis.

Marie-Espérance Cerda had lost her bicycle earlier that evening.

Cerda says she had locked it outside a friend’s house, but when she returned, the lock was broken and her bike was gone.

The next day, Cerda recognized her bike on one of the websites, and was in contact with Bennis by the evening.

“It was kind of surreal. I didn’t think I would ever find my bike again, I thought it was gone forever,” says Cerda.

After sending a photo of the bike with some identifying information, Bennis met with Cerda and returned the bike — accepting $30 and a bottle of whiskey as a reward.

Although Bennis says that although he doesn’t like the idea of paying presumed thieves for stolen bikes, it will at least improve the life of the owner who gets their ride back.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to dissuade the thieves.Honestly, it’s not going to happen, not as long as we have the poor people we have. it goes beyond bikes,” says Bennis.

Cerda says she hopes more people will follow Bennis’s example and help return stolen bikes, while she takes precautions to help stop it from happening to her again.

“I will definitely be investing in a much better lock,” says Cerda.