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Portland police recover transpo chief's stolen bike

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on September 12th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Beatrice, the battered blue bike stolen from outside the Portland Building last week, is back in the hands of her owner, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat.

Treat broke the news herself on Twitter, early this afternoon:

It was the third time Treat and her bike have been reunited after a theft. In the first case, it was stolen from her D.C. garage along with other items, then recovered. Later, in Chicago, it had been swiped from her garage where it was U-locked to other bikes. In this case, she'd left it overnight in the covered bike parking near her downtown office.

"I now know that wasn't such a smart thing to do," Treat wrote in an email to BikePortland Monday. She later added in a comment: "I have invested in a much better lock but have been advised by police that they've got video of thieves cutting just about every lock made. Please keep track of your serial numbers and take pictures of your bike. Update those photos anytime you change a significant feature."

Update: In another development since our Monday article, Treat's description of her spouse in her Twitter profile seems to have returned to an earlier word choice, from "artsy, intellectual cyclist" back to "artsy, intellectual, bike fanatic." We're happy with whatever they want to call each other, of course.

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  • GlowBoy September 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    She is VERY lucky (and being PBOT director may have given her case added visibility). Most of us have never seen our stolen bikes again. Even after filing a police report with the bike's serial number, and reporting the theft here.

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  • Joseph E September 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Hurray, Leah! I hope Beatrice wasn't beat up too badly.
    Could PBOT convince the police to do more for bike theft prevention? I believe many people are discouraged from riding bikes for transportation due to the risk of theft. We can't prevent all bike theft, but right now many people see it as a low-risk crime with little chance of getting caught.

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    • Hugh Johnson September 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      YOU are your own best theft prevention.

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  • BURR September 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    You'd think that when the police relocate and clean up the homeless camps they'd be paying more attention to all the potentially stolen bikes they find in them. There's one guy on the Esplanade near the Hawthorne bridge that looks like he's operating a bike parts shop out of his tent, and he's been there for weeks.

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    • Scott September 12, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      You would also think that in the comments on an active transportation blog from a very liberal city with lots of community outreach focused on getting people who need bikes on functional bikes a citizen wouldn't automatically assume someone who didn't have a house was a bike thief.

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      • BURR September 13, 2013 at 11:49 am

        Fine, let the community cycling center give them functional bikes, I have absolutely no objection to that, and I don't worry too much when I see them pedaling around on Schwinns, Magnas, Roadmasters or a typical 70's bike boom beater bike or early hardtail MTB.

        However, I do start worrying when I see them riding newer high-end bikes, dealing in parts like aero wheels from more specialized and sophisticated bikes, or accumulating bikes or bike parts in large enough numbers to be beyond their limited financial capabilities.

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        • Scott September 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm

          Do you "see" this often BURR? Where do you buy your bike parts? Do you do anything when you "see" these nefarious dealings, or do you shrink into the shadows of your assumptions about what is going on?

          You see, I have 2 degrees and I make good money, but you would never know it by looking at me. Also, my bike looks like a heap until you get up close, and then you can only tell that it is super rare if you know what you're looking at.

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          • BURR September 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm

            I 'see' it every time I ride on the Esplanade, the Springwater, the connection between them or through the CEID in general, which I do a lot these days, on varied routes, due to all the construction in inner SE.

            You can deny it all you want, but that doesn't mean it's not real and isn't happening.

            Just for sh*ts and grins, who exactly do you think is responsible for the majority of inner city bike thefts in Portland, Scott?

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            • Scott September 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

              I blame society.

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              • Todd Hudson September 13, 2013 at 3:58 pm

                Having had my bicycle stripped, I find this really offensive. The fact that I endured $400 in losses because of thief is not "society's fault." The thieves are at fault, and they should be punished when they are caught - we shouldn't feel sorry and blame everyone else because they are homeless and make bad decisions.

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                • Scott September 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

                  I didn't say it was society's fault, I said I blamed society. Big difference. The problem is systemic, but it is still a personal choice to steal.

                  However, I will always feel that anyone who has never needed to steal to survive is ill equipped to comment on someone who has been faced with that choice.

                  Finally, your bike getting stripped is your fault. It's your property, you have to protect it. Just because it is against the law to steal, would you leave something of value sitting there with a note on it that says, "mine"?

                  If something has value to you, regardless of it's monetary value, you protect it. You assess whether that lock area is safe. You assess what could go wrong in the bike box your work set up for cyclists. You decide if you want to leave your bike in your backyard. You value it. You protect it. And if someone else values it more and doesn't respect your protection, it's gone.

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          • BURR September 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

            BTW, I buy most of my used or new bike parts at CityBikes and no, I don't consider it my 'duty' to accost or report every potential sketchy homeless bike thief when I see them; that's the PPB's job, which they don't seem to be very good at doing.

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    • James Marshall Hendrix September 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

      There is another guy under the viaduct bridge south of OMSI... they had like 10 bikes there the other day and I watched them lift a stripped frame out from under a tarp. It was just WAY too obvious.

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  • Scott September 12, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Houseless is the term preferred by those without a house. Not homeless. Home is where you make it after all.

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    • Todd Hudson September 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Not all of us are concerned with making sure we're politically correct when it comes to homeless bike thieves.

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      • Scott September 12, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        I know. The racism and classicism is always pervasive in the comments section of this blog.

        I just point it out.

        Carry on with your biases, good sir.

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        • Todd Hudson September 12, 2013 at 7:24 pm

          Wow, that's the first time I've been accused of racism because I don't use silly PC terms like 'houseless'.

          Homeless people are not a protected class. They also tend to steal and trespass a lot.

          But please, keep coddling bike thieves on a bike blog.

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          • spare_wheel September 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm

            "They also tend to steal and trespass a lot."

            not even trying to hide it.

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            • Aaronf September 13, 2013 at 8:41 am

              To be fair, some of them try to hide it. When they get caught trespassing they have to move along... so I don't blame them for being discrete!

              Nobody says house less. Language policing is tiresome and fruitless. Sapir Whorf is a dog, mostly. Point me to an example of a marginalized group who was lifted up from marginalization by a bunch of scolds saying "Don't say ______. They don't like it."

              More seriously, I don't think that an increase in trespassing and theft is really an objectively negative stereotype re: homeless folk, since homelessness puts people in positions where these may be survival decisions. No point in going all Noble Savage.

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              • wsbob September 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

                "...More seriously, I don't think that an increase in trespassing and theft is really an objectively negative stereotype re: homeless folk, since homelessness puts people in positions where these may be survival decisions. ..." Aaronf

                Interesting consideration applied to what Mr Elmore's circumstances may have been that brought him to be riding PBOT's director Treat's bike right past the cops as they were helping clean up the sidewalk mess. No report yet as to whether he was either homeless or riding the bike in order to survive.

                Numerous people commenting here seem so preoccupied with the possibility they'll inappropriately characterize or refer to a certain group of Portland residents, that they've almost completely forgotten what this story is in fact about. Which is, that a guy who is at least physically capable to the extent they can ride a bike, somehow came to be illegally riding a bike belonging to somebody else.

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              • Chris I September 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm

                If I live in an apartment, does that make me "houseless"?

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                • Donna September 13, 2013 at 3:23 pm

                  According to my 7th Grade English teacher, yes.

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        • jered September 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm

          regardless, the use of "good sir" is always great, sincere, trolling, snotty, whatever - it makes me giggle.

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      • shirtsoff September 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm

        We don't know for certain that the person operating her bicycle is the one who stole it. At this point they're a "suspect" in the legal system. If I missed something in the news article indicating otherwise please let me know. In my experience with bicycle thieves, many try to sell the stolen goods quickly for a quick buck at ridiculously cheap prices or abandon them as new targets or risks emerge. It is possible that the individual without housing found the bike abandoned by the actual thief. Leave the work of the legal system to its experts, and we can hold back our biased judgements until a conviction emerges.

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        • shirtsoff September 12, 2013 at 8:05 pm

          Reading further down I noticed wsbob linked to an Oregonian article where it is confirmed that the arrested person was *not* the one who actually stole it. So, Todd Hudson, please exercise more care and consideration about being "politically correct when it comes to homeless bike thieves" to avoid the proverbial foot-in-the-mouth.

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          • Todd Hudson September 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm

            Is that you, Amanda Fritz?

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          • spare_wheel September 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

            once you dehumanize a socioeconomic class, race, sex, or sexual orientation it's very hard to admit they are human again.

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        • BURR September 13, 2013 at 11:52 am

          because the legal system always works so well for cyclists...

          :rolleyes:

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    • i ride my bike September 12, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      I prefer the terms 'bum' and 'vagrant'

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      • spare_wheel September 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

        love the black shiny boots, irmb.

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    • nopityintherosecity September 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

      I live in an apartment... I guess that makes me "houseless".

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  • Biker September 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Yippee. Now someone please give the transportation chief a u-lock and fenders.

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  • Todd Hudson September 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Leah: Buy a U-Lock.

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  • maxadders September 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Who needs a U-lock when you've got the PPB at your beck and call?

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  • Adam September 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Never use a cable lock. Never. Never. Never.

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    • i ride my bike September 12, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      Got home tonight and there was a cable lock cut at the staple rack on the street out front. I feel bad for the person who just lost their bike. Had mine stolen out of my apt basement

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      • Adam September 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        I once saw two Vanilla Bicycles locked to a small tree with a cable lock outside an apt building in the Nob Hill neighborhood. Jesus christ! Those things cost six grand each!!!!!!!

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        • Middle of the road guy September 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

          Mine cost about $7500.....a few years ago.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Beatrice - the bike with 9 lives!

    And I did not know that PBoT sent out crews with police to clean up houseless camps...unless they were on PBoT ROW...or was it part of a new outreach project: Breakfast Under the Bridge?

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  • wsbob September 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    The Oregonian's story about the recovery has a mug shot of the guy caught riding the bike by, a couple blocks from where it was stolen, while police were helping clean up the sidewalk along Madison. Whether or not he previously had housing accommodations, at least for the short term, he's now got a place to stay in the county jail, charged with Theft in the Second Degree by receiving.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2013/09/portland_transportation_direct.html

    Maybe he didn't know the bike was stolen when he received it from whoever.

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  • i ride my bike September 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Surprise, surprise, at a homeless camp. Lose your bike? Go to a homeless camp youll find it there. Despite all the bleeding hearts worshipping the homeless like Amanda, the truth is thats where the crime is.

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    • maxadders September 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      At least the thief stole it from someone who could afford to replace it. Sounds like the only real thing at stake here was "Beatrice's" sentimental value.

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      • Nairb September 14, 2013 at 9:09 am

        "at least". yes, it would be so much worse if the beat up bike had been stolen from someone who couldn't afford to replace it. How fortunate that the thief had the foresight to and discernment needed to identify a proper target. a true "robbin' hood". An individual of grace and virtue. How wonderful it is that ethical choices are dependent on circumstances and that we can suppose so much about the thief's that we can weigh the value of his (or I imagine, her) actions with no reliance on a standard of measure.

        Lovely.

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    • wsbob September 13, 2013 at 1:04 am

      "... at a homeless camp. ..." i ride my bike

      Sort of, but barely. It's not right to attribute more problems to homeless camp situations than they already have. This was right downtown, between 3rd and 4th and Madison, near city hall and the justice center, rather than some scary homeless squat under a freeway overpass or out in the boonies, as the informal phrase Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat used in her tweet may have led some readers to think.

      The mess city workers and police were cleaning up may have been related to the homeless, or as some apparently want to say: 'house-less' people that have been engaged in a longtime demonstration/occupation on the sidewalk in front of city hall. Every so often, the city is compelled to chase them away from in front of city hall, to clean up that location, and they've moved right on over to near the park.

      It hasn't been reported that Mr Elmore, the guy caught riding the bike, had even been staying at the Madison sidewalk location. Story says he was just riding by, maybe just minding his own business, when the cops happen to see the bike, and I.D. it, with him on it. Coincidence, fate, bad luck from Elmore's point of view...it's anyone's guess at this point.

      Some people, knowing the bike they're riding was stolen, and was one that had been the subject accompanied by a photo of the bike, of at least one or two very recent local news stories, probably wouldn't go riding it right past police officers. That Elmore did, suggests there's a chance he thought he had a legit use of the bike. For him, that would be nice. At any rate, PBOT Director Treat has her sweet little blue Breezer back to ride.

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    • spare_wheel September 13, 2013 at 11:56 am

      I'd gladly exchange a thousand sidewalk sitting citations for one prosecution of a high finance/real estate fraudster.

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      • Todd Hudson September 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        Why the need for class warfare?

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  • Tom M September 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I think Beatrice's nickname is now boomerang!

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  • 9watts September 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    whatever happened to the security camera video? That was, we were told, going to (help) solve this case.

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  • Joe Rowe September 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

    99% of bike thefts would not exist if owner's used a top brand u-lock like kyrpotonte. The cops spread fear by saying they can be cut. Yes they can, but you need very powerful and loud tools.

    When I lost my kryptonite keys I tried to break my Kryptonite. I destroyed 2 car jacks trying. Not a dent in the lock. Finally I called a guy with a chain saw like tool. It had a big circle rather than a chain. It took him about 30 seconds to cut it, but it was a massive noise.

    Bike shops sell cable locks because it helps them stay in profit. No bike shop should sell cable locks, or the cheap U-locks.

    posted 9:41am Sept 13 after 9Watts

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    • Todd Hudson September 13, 2013 at 10:59 am

      You're referring to an angle grinder. And a battery-powered angle grinder would take even longer to cut a U-lock. A U-lock basically makes a thief move on to a less-secured bike.

      Ms. Treat's other mistake was to leave the bike *downtown* *overnight*. Even with a U-lock, she stood a big risk of her bike getting stripped. This is not the kind of decision making I'd expect from someone in charge of transportation policy.

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    • GlowBoy September 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      I agree, it's disingenuous for the cops to talk about how any lock can be defeated. While that is strictly true, U-locks are far, far better than the best cables. Most of the really good ones seem to be from Kryptonite, OnGuard and Abus. PDX LOX is also made by Kryptonite, and presumably comparable to the entry level KryptoLoks.

      In contrast, even the thickest cables can be cut in an instant. That includes the armored ones, which can usually be flexed in a way that allows bolt cutters to reach the thin cable inside. In contrast, in bikeradar's testing it usually takes half a minute to 3 minutes to cut through a good U-lock with a good angle-grinder, an effort that would attract a LOT of attention and deter the vast majority of Portland thieves.

      Beatrice's theft has done some good in raising bike security awareness among Portlanders, including myself. I'm realizing I need to step my family's bike security up a notch, and that means U-locks all around. Which would also mean a bunch of keys, unless I can get the locks keyed alike. It's surprisingly difficult to find information on the web about keying multiple U-locks alike, so I'll share what I've learned:

      - The better Abus models can be keyed alike (see lockitt.com), but they are extremely expensive ($80-100 and up).

      - Kryptonite has a "ReKey" program where an existing U-lock can be re-keyed to another key number, either supplied by the owner or chosen by the company. I tried contacting them several days ago to ask whether this program could be used to key several locks alike, and I still have not heard back. Too bad, because I already own several Kryptonites and would prefer to keep using them.

      - Most Onguard locks (any with their "Z-Key" system) can be ordered keyed-alike, and you can do this across different models. You do have to order the locks directly from them (by telephone!), but they responded overnight to my email inquiries about the option, which is a good sign. Also, OnGuards' locks tend to be quite a bit cheaper than the comparable model from Kryptonite.

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  • Racer X September 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Director Treat must be some kinda super bike wonk...to risk loosing her bike just to collect police bike theft recovery data for all major bike friendly US Cities. Or is this a super secret LAB project leadership bait bike project?

    What city will be next? Watch out bike thieves this blue Breezer has bad juju for you.

    Joe Rose, The Oregonian wrote,
    "Beatrice has now been stolen and recovered in every city – Washington, Chicago and Portland – where she has used it to commute...

    "Portland was the fastest recovery," Dulken said."

    So take that DC and Chicago!, Portland is still Platinum!! and ahead in a new bike metric!!!

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  • pdxpaul September 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    /satire (for those who don't recognize it)
    The moral of this story is that we are all exceedingly judgmental. Even when the facts show our viewpoints to be wrong. Again. Thankfully U-locks and homelessness are inconsequential issues.
    /end satire
    This comment thread is depressing.

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  • Redhippie September 13, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    A couple of months ago, I saw a really nice Bike Friday with a group of incredibly dirty, smelly people who appeared to have little regard for the civil rules of society located by the West end of the Steel Bridge. Not trying to use any judgmental language, just the facts folk.

    Anyway, as soon as I got to the office, I looked it up on the Bike Portland site and there it was. I run the esplanade three times a week and almost daily see bikes that does seem to fit the individuals riding them. You see the Bike parts dumps by the Hawthorne Bridge and over by the Spring Water and conclude that there is a major theft ring going on.

    I find this story very disturbing since the cops don't really put the energy into addressing these crimes in our community unless private citizens get involved or some one important is involved. It really makes me angry on multiple levels.

    Thank for listening to my rant. I'll be cool now.

    ps. Homeless, homeless, homeless.... Sorry couldn't resist.

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    • Scott September 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      There is no money for the police in finding stolen property. The only way it benefits them is if there are enough drugs on site for them to auction off the confiscated goods. Your property is yours to protect. Cops don't care unless it generates revenue for the city/precinct.

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    • 100th Monkey September 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      If it was the dark blue Bike Friday that was stolen in April, I think, then it was my neighbor's here in Kenton. He got it back when the thief responded to his add in Craigslist. No, he did NOT have to pay to get it back, just threatened to have him arrested as he had proof of ownership with the original receipt from Bike Friday in Eugene! However, the thief put a rattlecan flat black paintjob on it.

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  • Terry D September 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I think all the negatives statements about the homeless here are the start of class warfare. In this economy, most of those on the street are not becuase of their choices, it is because of circumstances. Our social 'SAFETY NET" is full of holes in this country. If there would have beem a string of arrests after the financial collapse, like ICELAND did due to their illegal activities your point may be valid.

    There were none. Insted our huge police force In the country is used to evict those that have no where to go and have no resources. People who are treated poorly, act poorly. Not an excuse for them, just reality.

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  • Skid September 16, 2013 at 9:27 am

    About 50% of homeless people have jobs. Many of them couch surf or stay with friends. If by trespass you mean stay in an abandoned building when it rains, should they die of exposure while waiting for a bed at a shelter? Maybe you mean dumpster diving or "stealing" someone else's trash.

    Let's not paint all homeless with the same brush.

    I still agree with Burr. I get suspicious when I see someone with really dirty clothes on a (for instance) Moots titanium that doesn't fit them with clipless pedals, and they are wearing regular shoes. There are tons of bike thieves downtown, because they are tons of people so affluent and entitled that they don't think they have to lock their bikes up well, or can slap down plastic for a new one when theirs gets stolen.

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