This is a spellbinding story by my Seattle bike friend Tom.
"When I glanced the flat-head screwdriver in his hand, time stopped. The shouting stopped. The shellack-coated handlebars gripped in my fingers stopped shaking and pulling away from me. For just one second, I focused so hard on that screwdriver that time froze.
And for that second, only one thought was on my mind: I am a very stupid person."
Whole story at the link above.
But that’s where his hopes of a quick and painless return of his bike ended. Officers told him that they could not help him. Even though he has detailed knowledge about every single detail of the bike—from the name of every part, the shellack he used on the cloth handlebar tape, to the number of layers of beer can he used to shim the front derailer—and was in contact with the person who had it, he was turned away with the vague and unhelpful advice that once he sees the bike and the suspect, he could call 911.
I had a similar situation very recently with a friend's valuable musical instrument that was stolen from his home.
Popped up on Craigslist the next day. Initially told same thing by police.
I had a meeting set up with seller but in the meantime friend used family connections to get a detective on the case (normally it would not even be assigned for a week or two.)
I was told by police to but out and not communicate further with the seller-- they would supposedly make their own contact. Supposedly were working through postal inspector's office to trace e-mail, etc. etc.
A week goes by. No further communication from CPD. Ball completely dropped. Was ready to take it back into my own hands but it's no longer listed.
Ultimately setting up your own meeting and then doing what you can to get police involved at that point (via 911 or direct call to tactical police) is probably the best option.