The “Mayor of Hampden” is on the hunt for a daring thief. Earlier Sunday morning, someone snatched his neighborhood-famous tricycle straight off W. 36th Street in broad daylight using a pair of bolt cutters.
Will Bauer/Lou Catelli, known also as “The Mayor” and “The Patron Saint” of Hampden, posted footage of his accused thief on YouTube Tuesday morning. The video came from a camera outside the newly renovated Hampden Family Center on W. 36th Street. The time stamp in the picture indicates it happened Sunday, May 28, just before 6 a.m.
The footage appears to show a man in a neon worker’s vest strolling calmly up to the one-of-a-kind three-wheeler and checking its storage compartment in the back. He then takes a pair of bolt cutters out of a bag and, with a heave, snaps a lock on the front wheel affixed to a sidewalk post. After disappearing from view for a couple minutes, he walks back over, hops on and rides off with the tricycle.
Bauer/Catelli doesn’t plan to simply let this crime go unanswered. He wrote a grim message to his thief on Facebook, which he confirmed was inspired by Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills character from “Taken.”
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want,” he wrote. “If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”
“If you let my tricycle go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you,” he continued. “But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will citizen arrest you.”
The Mayor of Hampden has been closely tracking its movements. He posted on Facebook later on Tuesday that his vehicle was last seen in Woodberry and along W. 41st Street. Later that night, he shared a four-second clip of someone riding it at a location he labeled as Gwynns Falls Parkway at Braddish Avenue, near the Mondawmin neighborhood.
Speaking by phone Wednesday, he said he’s had the tricycle for five years. Even though he’s loaned it out numerous times, it’s never been stolen.
“It’s from the old Sparrows Point steel mill. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. It’s a treasure to me, and somebody else is not gonna appreciate it,” he said.
Minutes before our phone interview, someone sent him pictures of two males on the tricycle — one riding it, one standing on the back — outside the Shopper’s Food Warehouse at Mondawmin Mall.
“I called the cops, of course,” he said. “It doesn’t really blend in well…The guy is pedaling it and has his buddy standing on the back. It’s pretty brazen.”
“I am super glad that it’s not been broken into pieces or melted down yet,” he added. “That’s made me very happy.”
Hampdenites on Wednesday expressed shock about the theft. Roger Cougle, sweeping up outside The Lunch Box near the sidewalk post where the trike was stolen, noted Bauer/Catelli often parks it outside with no problems.
“Will’s alright, man. Everybody’s cool with Will,” he said. “I always see him here…You know, he cruises back and forth to his house.”
Three workers at the Golden West Café window across the street said they hadn’t seen the theft happen days earlier.
“That’s weird,” said one employee named Angela. “I feel like everybody here knows him.”
Cougle didn’t express much optimism about the tricycle’s fate. “Usually when somebody gets something like that, you never see it again.”
This story has been updated.