Kathryn Lucas posed as an interested buyer and then told the thief that she wanted to go on a "test ride" and then rode off home on her bike, before tipping off the cops.
The 25-year-old University of Colorado student had left her black Trek 1.2 road bike outside a bar on October 4.
She told KMGH: "I came back out to get my bike to go home and my bike wasn't there."
So after filing a police report, out of curiousty searched for it on Craigslist to see if it was up sale. She added: "I knew that it wasn't uncommon for things to just show up,"
Sure enough, there was a photo of the bike, which she recognized due to it's distinctive red handle-bar tape and her water bottle holder.
After posing as an interested buyer, within minutes, she was contacted by someone calling himself "Lance Robinson" who gave her his address.
So she went round and asked if she could take it for a test ride.
She recalled: "I started riding it and knew it was my bike, so I just kept riding it. I rode it to my car and then threw it it in my car and then drove away."
She added that she hadn't been planning to steal the bike, especially after seeing the size of the thieves, but had taken advantage of the situation and made a spur of the moment decision.
She explained: "They were a lot bigger than I thought they were. I thought it’d be like a little person that stole bikes and I’d be like: 'Hey, I called the police and that’s my bike and you’re trying to sell it to me,' but I just took it for a ride and went with it."
After recovering her bike, Lucas called the police and gave them the thief’s address.
'Lance Robinson' turned out to be 18-year-old Denzel O’Neal Crawford, who did not have a prior police record.
Police say Crawford was arrested and confessed to stealing the bike before being released on bond.
Officers also advised Miss Lucas that, though her recovery mission was successful, it was not a tactic they recommend.
She said: "They told me for future reference that I probably would not want to do that by myself."