Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on March 4th, 2010 at 8:56 am
Our story about public accusations of illegal activity by The Recyclery bike shop has sparked a lot of dialogue. Yesterday, I spoke about this issue with Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Troy King who works in the PPB’s Special Property Investigations unit.
One of Sgt. King’s main responsibilities is enforcing Portland’s Secondhand Dealer regulations. I asked Sgt. King if his office has had any dealings with The Recyclery and/or if they’ve received complaints about illegal purchases or sales of stolen goods at that shop.
Sgt. King says their file on The Recyclery begins in 2006, when the PPB first heard they were buying used bikes. At that time, Sgt. King paid The Recyclery a visit and told owner Robbie Fenstermaker that he needed to have a secondhand permit on file if he wanted to continue to deal in used bikes. According to Sgt. King, Fenstermaker never got the permit. “So we did some undercover investigations,” says King, “and fined him for buying bikes without a permit.”
Shortly thereafter, Fenstermaker paid the fines and got the permit.
“We have had no complaints from anyone [at The Recyclery] knowingly buying stolen bikes and bike parts.”
— Sergeant Troy King, Portland Police Bureau
It’s important to note that the fine came for selling used bikes — not for dealing in stolen goods. It’s also worth mentioning that at the end of 2006, Sgt. King’s unit was in the middle of a massive overhaul to the City’s secondhand laws (after an FBI investigation showed Portland pawn shops were a fencing hotbed). Several local bike shops weren’t happy with how the proposed changes would lump them in with pawn shops, requiring them to go through stringent paperwork and security requirements for each sale (at one point, Sellwood Cycle Repair stopped selling used bikes completely because of this). Eventually, after many meetings with the PPB, the new regulations were revised in a way that was more palatable to bike shop owners.
King says that as part of the secondhand dealers permit process his unit performed an inspection of The Recyclery and has monitored the business ever since. “We have had no complaints from anyone [at The Recyclery] knowingly buying stolen bikes and bike parts.”
With four locations, The Recyclery is the largest used bike dealer in the city. As such, Sgt. King says he’s done more inspections at The Recyclery in the last year than at any other shop. “He knows we’re paying close attention to what goes on at his stores.”
During those routine inspections, detectives go through the bikes on display to verify that their serial numbers were reported correctly. They then pull 10 of those reports at random to analyze them in more detail. As for illegal buying and selling of stolen bikes, Sgt. King says, “I don’t have any reason to think that he [Fenstermaker] himself or that he would knowingly allow his employees to do it.”