A triathlete student at the University of North Texas was relieved to have her stolen $2,000 road bike returned to her after a news crew randomly ran into the bike thief on the street — only to have the man confess to the crime and voluntarily return the road bike.

Taylor Rector, a 21-year-old barista at Denton’s West Oak Coffee in Denton, Texas, was working at the coffee shop Thursday night with her bike parked downstairs in one of the entranceways to the shop when an unnamed thief walked into the store and quickly made off with it.

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“Oh my gosh it was heartbreaking,” Rector told FOX 4 News of Dallas, adding she expected to find the bike “in pieces.”

bike thief in north texas

The anonymous drunken bike thief.

A surveillance video showing a tall, lanky man with long hair stealing the bicycle Thursday night hit social media and grabbed the attention of community members, who were dismayed that somebody would so brazenly steal Rector’s bike while she was working.

But after conducting interviews with workers at the coffee shop Friday and viewing the surveillance video himself, something else caught the eye of FOX 4 photojournalist Raul Cantu — a man walking down the street a block away from the shop who looked oddly similar to the man on the surveillance cameras.

After rushing to catch up with the man, Cantu asked him if he wanted to comment on the story about the bike theft, at which point the bike thief admitted to the crime, calling it a “drunk mistake.” He then lead the news crew back to his house, and handed over the bike while refusing to give his name.

Rector was enthralled to be reunited with her bike, but said she plans to press charges.

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