TLDR; I chased down a bike thief and caught her. Turns out she's a juvenile. She claims she mistook the bike for her own. The police say if we press charges, nothing will likely come of it because it's a he-said/she-said situation. What should I do?
Last night, my beloved racing bike got stolen off of the front of a Muni bus in San Francisco.
I'd been watching it like a hawk, and saw it as it happened. The driver did too. He yelled, "Your bike!" and opened the door for me, I dropped my stuff and took off after the thief. She was obviously having trouble keeping her feet on the tiny Speedplay pedals, and I managed to tackle her as she slipped. Two security guards happened to be right there, and apprehended her. Thankfully, the bus driver waited for me, so I was able to retrieve my laptop bag (and 40lb bag of cat litter — man, that would have slowed me down).
It turns out this happened right outside of the girl's apartment, and her mother and grandmother came out due to the commotion. The mother was genuinely and earnestly disappointed in her daughter.
The police told me given her story (she mistook the bike for her own) and lack of prior arrest record, it would be hard to take it any further than a police report. The problem is that in order to convict, we would need to prove intent, and that would be difficult to do. Having done some Googling since, as I (possibly incorrectly) understand it, the city prosecutor would be responsible for pressing charges and would probably opt not to do so.
Is that the case? And how should I proceed? I'm not convinced that pressing charges would result in a positive outcome (either if it wasn't successful or if it was; sometimes kids just do stupid shit and need an event like this to change their path). What would you do at this point if you were in my situation?