Elaine Ellis gets her stolen bike back (& Dready Dave is busted) thanks to Boulder Twitter users

Yes, Twitter is powerful. But did you know it's also a great crime-fighting tool?

Just ask Elaine Ellis, a Boulder-based social-media manager whose plaintive tweet following the theft of her bicycle on Saturday instantly transformed members of the community into high-tech detectives who ultimately got their man -- a guy known around town as Dready Dave.

Ellis tells the tale on her website, The Art of Awkward. After her bike was stolen on Saturday afternoon, she informed the masses via the following tweet:

My bike got stolen. There is a cold place in hell for those who steal bikes. And before you to hell, I'm probably going to punch you.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

She also shared the info with her roommate, who soon discovered that some office neighbors had taken a snapshot of the alleged thief in action:

Ellis tweeted the image, and before long, a member of Boulder's Twitterati made a positive ID:

@elaineellis Your #boulder bike thief is known as Dready Dave. My son immediately knew when he saw the picture.less than a minute ago via HootSuite Favorite Retweet Reply

That was followed by reports of sightings like this one:

@angilly @woodardj I'm sure this guy was at the Baseline LQ. On sat. Evening.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

And this one...

Look under the 9th & Canyon bridge,we saw him there Saturday. RT @nielr1:Bike thief in Boulder stole @elaineellis bike. than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

Then, after filing a police report on Monday, another Boulderite broke the case wide open:

@ElaineEllis found your bike 13 and arapahoe on the boulder bike, called 911 but he looks like he's leaving. NEED BACKUPless than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

At this point, Ellis and pals headed to the location in question -- and while Dready Dan wasn't there when they arrived, he soon returned for his blanket, which had been left behind. The intrepid crew then flagged down a police car, and the suspect, identified by the Boulder Daily Camera as David Carroll Oldham, 41, was arrested on suspicion of theft.

Oh yeah: Oldham's girlfriend led authorities to the bike, which Ellis has already gotten back. She notes that it's been upgraded with a bell and a cup holder that she'd like to return if they, too, were stolen. If they're yours, tweet her about it!

More from our Tech archive: "John Elway, Twitter all-pro -- and star of a new Denver Broncos reality show?"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts