One Sunday not long ago, Sanders Monsees and and a group of friends went to the beach for a session, like you do on a beautiful summer morning in South Carolina. As they were unloading the car back at one of the guy’s houses, Monsees put his board on the sidewalk next to a pile of scrap metal while he carried a friend’s board into the house. He stopped for a chat in the kitchen and by the time he got out, his board was gone.
While there are many ways to dwell on the mistakes–leaving the board on top of scrap metal makes it look like trash, leaving valuable possessions unattended is not just a bad idea in airports, etc.–Monsees got to work looking for his board instead. He found it two weeks later on Craigslist, of all places. In the interest of helping others learn from his misfortune, he’s put together this little “how to” of things he did as well as things he should have done in order to retrieve his stolen board. Of course you want to believe it will never happen to you, but if it does, you’ll be glad you knew this.
Step 1: File a police report right then and there.
I know, I know, what are the chances that a police detective is going to actually go out hunting for your board? The police officer gave me some lip about laying my board next to some trash and that I likely wouldn’t be able to press charges if they found the guy. Something about plausible deniability. My girlfriend, smarter than I, responded that it would benefit me so I might as well fill out the paperwork. The cop reluctantly agreed. The lesson is here that the officer HAS to file a report. In reality, I didn’t care about filing charges that much. I just wanted my board back.
Believe it or not, Pawn Shops are required to hold items in the back of the stores for up to a week and they have to publicly file all items with the local police department. That being said, don’t count on some detective to find your board and bring it to your doorstep. In all likelihood, you are going to have to do it yourself.
Step 2: Immediately call all of the surf shops in the vicinity and tell them what happened and give a description of your board.
The guy that stole my board went by a surf-shop (supposedly) and tried to sell it to them. Obviously, not all surf shops by used boards, but if it’s a new board or one in great condition, they might entertain the idea.
Step 2B: Bring a photo of your board with dimensions to local shops. Include a description of any unique traits it might have like dings, repair jobs, fins, artwork, etc…
If and when a person brings your board in to see if the shop will buy it, they can immediately call you and depending on how well you’ve flirted or bro’d out with with the girl/guy at the counter, they might call 911 and grab the board for you.
Step 3: Think like a rat.
How would you flip a board safely? Don’t assume that the thief is a surfer. Sure, you might think that you or one of your friends will see the guy walking down the street with it after a surf…God help that idiot…but more than likely, it’s a dude who’s trying to make some cash.
Step 4: This is debatable but, in my opinion, you shouldn’t post that your board has been stolen on Craigslist, a forum, or anything like that.
I know that people do this a lot and that there have been recoveries because of this but I think you have to assume the person that is stealing your board is going to be wary about how he sells it and if he sees a post about it on Craigslist or potentially on a forum if he’s a surfer, he’s going to go into hiding.
Step 5: After a week, during your lunch breaks or free-time, start going by pawn shops looking for your board.
If you find your board and have filed a police report, you can get the board back without a problem and for free.
Step 6: Search Craigslist relentessly.
Every day. 3 times a day. 5 times a day on the weekends. For a month. If the guy is smart at all, he’ll wait a little bit. When searching, use different combinations from generic terms like “surfboard,” and “surf board” to brand name or the type of board. Also, search outside of your immediate geographic area. This is not going to be fun but thankfully, there are some tools to help you out:
To increase the likelihood of finding your board, send out photos via email or text to all of your surfing friends and friends of friends. They might come across it when you don’t.
Craigslist is full of weirdos and the perfect place for someone to anonymously flip your treasured magic carpet very quickly.
If you find your board on Craigslist, remain calm. If you have a custom board with your name on it, don’t email him from your account as this will be a dead giveaway. Use a friends email account and try to keep everything via email or text. Set up a meeting spot and optionally, call the cops, explain what happened and have them meet you there. People are crazy so you never know the type of person that you might encounter.
You have to play it cool and if you are a bad actor, the person may get sketched out. In the name of “checking out the board,” get it in your grasp. Once you have the board in your hands and you are 100% sure it’s your board and not another all white 6’0 Merrick, feel free to go off on the guy a little bit and then go hide behind the cop and head to the bar to celebrate.