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JoeW
10-05-2006, 10:33 AM
So I've had some recent experiences that have got me thinking...
First I see a guy on the MAX yellow line with a brand new Giant MTB, he looks like he can't afford it, he won't put it on the bike hook despite the fact that there's no one using it, won't make eye contact...you see where I'm going? THEN he sees a trimet security guy on the platform, mind you the security guy does NOT get on, but this guy is so freaked out that he shoves past as the doors are closing, rides in front of traffic on interstate, and procceeds the wrong way up the bike lane checking over his shoulder. YEAH. pretty sure that's not his bike.
Second I see a guy at the 82nd max platform pushing a black bike. may have been a trek. It's got aero bars on it, clip pedals...and the guy is wearing dickies, not wearing clip shoes, is a little out of shape to be riding a bike with AERO bars...you know how those hurt your back if you're not in great shape? Then I see him at safeway with my wife...we ask him where he got his bike, "my dad built it for me", do the aero's hurt at all, "no, not really", how is it riding the clips without the shoes, "what are clips?". Again, probably not his bike.
I'm sure some of you have had similar instances. What would you do if you're pretty sure a bike is stolen. Yell "bike thief!!!" really loud? Try to stop them from going somewhere? Call the police, knowing the thief will be gone when the get there? I just hate to see bike thieves get away with this s***. I've had a bike stolen (hasn't everyone?) and want to help others get their bikes back. what do you think?

Rixtir
10-05-2006, 02:10 PM
So I've had some recent experiences that have got me thinking...
First I see a guy on the MAX yellow line with a brand new Giant MTB, he looks like he can't afford it, he won't put it on the bike hook despite the fact that there's no one using it, won't make eye contact...you see where I'm going? THEN he sees a trimet security guy on the platform, mind you the security guy does NOT get on, but this guy is so freaked out that he shoves past as the doors are closing, rides in front of traffic on interstate, and procceeds the wrong way up the bike lane checking over his shoulder. YEAH. pretty sure that's not his bike.

<snip>

what do you think?It could be a bike thief. It could also be a guy who didn't pay the fare.

The second guy sounds like he was on a bike that wasn't his.

dan
10-05-2006, 03:51 PM
i think if that scenario happened to me, and the guy asked "what are clips?", i'd probably try to take the bike. maybe.

JoeW
10-05-2006, 09:24 PM
How though? That's what I'm wondering...how does one go about taking a bike from someone? by force? By telling them you know it's stolen and hoping they get freaked out?

PoPo
10-05-2006, 11:17 PM
Trying to think of a way to encourage such thoughful observations and citizenship while still keeping everyone safe.

Hard to do here, though.

As Rixtir noted, there could be reasons other than the bike being stolen that might cause a person to act suspiciously. And imagine an innocent person's reaction if accused by a total stranger of stealing a bicycle. Probably be pretty angry.

Next imagine a thief's reaction if accused of stealing a bicycle. He or she might panic and run off, leaving the bike. The thief might also be confrontational or threatening or brandish a weapon.

In both cases I think you would be putting yourself in danger, and while we should certainly be looking out for each other and each others' bicycles, at the end of the day it isn't worth risking life or limb for a bicycle that can be replaced. Or for a car or a wallet or any of our other "possessions."

And in both cases, believe it or not, if you use force to take the bicycle you might yourself be commiting the crime of robbery, which is a pretty serious felony.

If you are really convinced that a person has a stolen bike, how about carefully remembering the description of the bike and the person who had it and checking this website for descriptions of recently stolen bikes. You could then contact the person who posted the bike as being stolen and tell them information on where you saw the bike and the person who had it. The bike theft victim can then provide that suspect information to the police, augmenting the stolen bike report they already made after discovering their bike missing. (A report that included the bike's serial number that the victim had wisely recorded someplace safe soon after purchasing the bicycle, as well as a digital picture that the owner had wisely taken of the bicycle!)

I'll let you know if I can think of anything else.

SEA_poseur_n_PDX
10-06-2006, 06:25 AM
if you have a camera in your mobile phone (if you have a mobile) take a picture. if the person with the bike gets confrontational about you taking a picture just say you like the bike, and wanted a picture of it. I would guess that a picture of the bike, and the person who is in posession of the bike, might be valuable later to both the former owner and the police.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
10-06-2006, 07:59 AM
....What would you do if you're pretty sure a bike is stolen. Yell "bike thief!!!" really loud? Try to stop them from going somewhere? Call the police, knowing the thief will be gone when the get there? I just hate to see bike thieves get away with this s***....

Man, this is a tough situation. I share your frustration.

How you approach such a situation must be informed by the inherent risk. As has been pointed out, there is a pretty good chance that someone who has stolen a bike will become violent when confronted about it, especially if no one else is around. The simple fact is that any confrontation is dangerous.

I don't think the 'get a good description' or the 'take a picture' approach is very good (though certainly better than nothing), because, as you point out, the thief will be gone by the time you get the info to the police or the owner. Now they know what the bike and the thief looks like, but they're still pretty much looking for a needle in a haystack.

If you're OK with the risks of confrontation, you might politely say, "My bike was recently stolen and I think this one might be it. Mind if I check the serial number?" Then you will know for sure whether you're right.

Also, most people don't realize that private citizens have the power of arrest. You can get sued if you use too much force or wrongly arrest someone, so you can add that to the risk of being attacked. But you don't just have to wait for the cops. Again, you have to be comfortable with the risk in the particular situation. And you will also have to wait for the cops to show up.

For example, I would not have been certain enough to act in the 'Max' situation, but I would have been certain enough to act in the 'what are clips?' situation.

Whatever you do, it will take a lot of time and effort. And my opinion is that the cost-benefit ratio of confrontation is not good. Generally, I would not do it.

I hate to say it, but I think your/our collective effort is best spent on dealing with cyclists/bike owners. Register your bike, keep it locked, etc.

But the best solution is technology. Has anyone heard of LoJack? They're a company that puts tiny GPS units in cars. When they're stolen, you call LoJack and they tell you where your car is. Why can't we do this for bikes? Just put a little unit in one of the tubes. No one will know its there. Probably it's too expensive, but there have to be lots of yuppies willing to pay for this and it will get cheaper. Anyone want to write a business plan so we can find some investors for this venture?

Rixtir
10-06-2006, 08:24 AM
But the best solution is technology. Has anyone heard of LoJack? They're a company that puts tiny GPS units in cars. When they're stolen, you call LoJack and they tell you where your car is. Why can't we do this for bikes? Just put a little unit in one of the tubes. No one will know its there.There's something called "cultural hiding places" that would ultimately defeat this. A "cultural hiding place" is typically a place in your home where you hide your valuable items. For example, many people hide valuables in their freezers. The problem with this is that because we're all living in the same culture, we-- including thieves-- all know about these cultural hiding places.

Now let's apply that concept to bicycles. Some people suggest hiding an identifying number in the seat tube. You've suggested hiding a LoJack in one of the tubes. If either of these methods were to become common practice, the thieves would figure out that they need to check the tubing for things like identifying numbers and LoJacks. My theory is that most stolen bikes get parted out anyway, so looking for LoJacks in the tubing would be part of the routine, eventually.

The one benefit I can see is that the LoJack can alert you to the bike's location before the thief has a chance to strip the bike down, which would mean the theft victim would probably have a window of at least a few hours before the theft ring could check for a LoJack. Or maybe they'd just adjust their methods and strip bikes down immediately. Dunno.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
10-06-2006, 08:51 AM
There's something called "cultural hiding places" that would ultimately defeat this. A "cultural hiding place" is typically a place in your home where you hide your valuable items. For example, many people hide valuables in their freezers. The problem with this is that because we're all living in the same culture, we-- including thieves-- all know about these cultural hiding places.

Now let's apply that concept to bicycles. Some people suggest hiding an identifying number in the seat tube. You've suggested hiding a LoJack in one of the tubes. If either of these methods were to become common practice, the thieves would figure out that they need to check the tubing for things like identifying numbers and LoJacks. My theory is that most stolen bikes get parted out anyway, so looking for LoJacks in the tubing would be part of the routine, eventually.

The one benefit I can see is that the LoJack can alert you to the bike's location before the thief has a chance to strip the bike down, which would mean the theft victim would probably have a window of at least a few hours before the theft ring could check for a LoJack. Or maybe they'd just adjust their methods and strip bikes down immediately. Dunno.

Did you just suggest that thieves would start hiding bikes in freezers?!?! I think I know what you keep in your freezer, rixter! And I think you need to smoke some more. Just kidding. ;)

Three things: (1) There would be a lag time before thieves figured out that bikes now have LoJacks in them. (2) You could easily make the LoJacks very difficult or impossible to remove without specialized tools. (3) You're attributing too much knowledge and wisdom to the average bike thief. Of course a perfectly rational bike thief would strip it immediately to ditch the LoJack. But most people who steal bikes don't strip them; they just ride them around or sell them for meth. People still steal cars with LoJacks. It hasn't completely eliminated the problem, but it has meant that virtually everyone with a LoJack gets their car back. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a great leap forward from what we've got now. Do you have to shit on everything people say here, rixter? Again, JK. ;)

lyleleander
10-06-2006, 11:17 AM
i feel everybody's frustration.

really, the only alternative to confronting these guys in the street and holding them there until the cops get there (and risking, what, kidnapping if they happen to be able to prove they own the bike legally? and getting assaulted if they are a thief) is to just focus our efforts on making sure bikes are locked properly (even if they're in your locked garage, car, house, etc) on top of being adamant about recording serial numbers and taking pictures and saving receipts.

maybe something else that could be done would be for someone to organize a lobbying effort focused either on the police bureau or city hall, in order to get officers to make it their policy to stop people who obviously don't fit on the bikes they're riding, record their identity and bike details and question how they got it. it's clearly a touchy subject, because it's basically profiling. but it's the equivalent of stopping someone walking out of an electronics store with raggedy clothes and missing teeth carrying an expensive tv... something is likely up.

so the guys mentioned in this thread, along with the homeless man i've seen in southeast lately with a bag full of empty bottles and a cigar in his mouth riding an expensive mountain bike, likely don't own their bikes and very likely got them either by stealing or trading for drugs or other stolen property.

and with the amount of police cars i see driving around everywhere on a constant basis, they're driving by and seeing these guys all the time too.

TCR Punk
10-16-2006, 08:02 PM
maybe something else that could be done would be for someone to organize a lobbying effort focused either on the police bureau or city hall, in order to get officers to make it their policy to stop people who obviously don't fit on the bikes they're riding, record their identity and bike details and question how they got it. it's clearly a touchy subject, because it's basically profiling. but it's the equivalent of stopping someone walking out of an electronics store with raggedy clothes and missing teeth carrying an expensive tv... something is likely up.

and with the amount of police cars i see driving around everywhere on a constant basis, they're driving by and seeing these guys all the time too.

The first statement is wrong. Stopping people riding bicycles, that you think don't fit the picture is wrong. Just because someone doesn't look wealthy enough to ride a nice bike, doesn't mean they aren't wealthy. The old saying, don't judge a book by its cover, fits here nicely.

And secondly, the police you see driving around everywhere, more likely than not, are responding to calls. Just because you see a cop driving down the street without the lights and siren on, doesn't mean they aren't going to a call.

And personally, I'm glad i live in a society that doesn't judge me, or the things I have. I like the fact the nobody can stop me a say, "hey that item you have is to good for you, you don't fit the bill, so you must have stolen that." Fuck that! I have had three bikes stolen, my car busted into several times. I'm not immune from those acts, but I still don't want to live in a society where people judge you on what you look like and ride.

Lock your bike with a good lock. Keep your valuables out of plain sight, and take what you want to keep with you at all times. And if someone takes your shit, just remember God is watching them, and they will get whats coming to them in the end.

Rixtir
01-29-2007, 02:25 PM
Did you just suggest that thieves would start hiding bikes in freezers?!?! I think I know what you keep in your freezer, rixter! And I think you need to smoke some more. Just kidding. ;)

Three things: (1) There would be a lag time before thieves figured out that bikes now have LoJacks in them. (2) You could easily make the LoJacks very difficult or impossible to remove without specialized tools. (3) You're attributing too much knowledge and wisdom to the average bike thief. Of course a perfectly rational bike thief would strip it immediately to ditch the LoJack. But most people who steal bikes don't strip them; they just ride them around or sell them for meth. People still steal cars with LoJacks. It hasn't completely eliminated the problem, but it has meant that virtually everyone with a LoJack gets their car back. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a great leap forward from what we've got now. Do you have to shit on everything people say here, rixter? Again, JK. ;)Jesus. Resurrecting an old thread to post some new info. :D

In the spirit of not shitting on the suggestion, there's a company in the UK called Datatag (http://www.datatag.co.uk/) that makes some very interesting products. Check them out...

ADirtMonkey
02-27-2007, 02:21 PM
once, we had a grubby looking guy come by our shop (not a bike shop) looking to fix his bike. The r qr (for a bike trailer) was totally unrepairable, the wheel was almost falling out. It was a nicer cannondale full suspension with clipless pedals. He was wearing skate shoes, so I called him out on riding the pedals with no shoes. He b.s.ed me about it and we go back and forth. So I know it is stolen and tell him so. He admits to it, and I told him to get the f*** out of here before I a) get super pissed off and b) get the cops involved. He bails and we have the bike. Turns out the bike was listed on the stolen bike listings and the owner ended up getting it back.
I think a lot of these theifs would rather let you have the bike and not get the police involved. From there the hard part is getting the owner his/her bike back. It all comes down to how much responsibility you want to take. I didn't call the police about the bike b/c I knew that it would take forever IF ever for the owner to get it back. Dicey sure, but it seemed to work out in the end.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
02-27-2007, 03:35 PM
ADirtMonkey, are you aware that you just admitted to committing a crime?

steelsreal
02-27-2007, 03:37 PM
Profiling.

Like most things, we are all aware of what is going on with just a quick glance. The big problem here, are the exceptions.

I have seen your typical meth head looking fellow with ratty clothes, messed up teeth and tattered shoes whip out several thousand dollars to buy a full suspension bike. He was going to use it as a commuting bike.

If any of us saw him on it, we would think it to be stolen. I know this, cause he came in with a 3000 dollar cannondale with a busted tube(good 'ol cracknfails!). We all thought it was stolen. Turns out he is a vietnam vet, has some sort of trust set up. He rides off looking like super tweaker on his new full suspension commuter bike. It was also the wrong size, due to his insistence that he needed a bike two sizes too small.

I worked at a shop in Arizona where a hispanic customer was ignored by the entire staff owing to his appearance.

I sold him an off the floor Serotta Ottrot. He also plunked down 3000 on accessories. He bought two high end heart rate monitors because he could not make up his mind... Over $10,000 in one sale and he looked like he should be spare changing on the corner.

Again, these are obviously exceptions, but still. I dress like a slob and ride a spendy road bike. I would be pretty pissed if the fuzz hassled me on it.

That being said, bike thiefs are the scum of the earth. I certainly don't want all of our rights trampled because of them though...

fetishridr
02-27-2007, 03:40 PM
a stick in the front wheel would do the trick. if you're a messenger you're already set up.

rubbish heap
02-27-2007, 07:44 PM
U Lock justice.

ADirtMonkey
03-02-2007, 04:51 PM
Attornatus_Oregonensis, yep wouldn't be the first one either! :D

PoPo
03-08-2007, 09:55 PM
Mr. Dirtmonkey,

I think you made an extremely heads-up play that indeed ended-up working beautifully. Thanks for recovering the stolen bike and getting it back to the owner. You behaved as we all should as citizens, and there is not one cop who would arrest you, and and even if there was, no prosecutor who would charge you, and even if there was, no jury that would convict you, of stealing a bike from a bike thief. Nice work.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
03-09-2007, 08:26 AM
That's exactly right. And, in my opinion, the right outcome.

Interesting but not surprising that the police are willing to admit, in writing, to using their own sense of morality, rather than the law, to decide when to make an arrest!

WhiteSword
03-09-2007, 09:01 AM
Bike Thief
(after having countless bikes stolen in nyc a reverse sting operation was set. the neistat brothers steal their own bicycles in daylight in downtown nyc. begging the attention of the police but never getting it)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TNTq3nhuh0

God's Children
Documents a right-wing vigilante bike gang based out of Prescott, Arizona that baits bicycles in order to catch bike thieves.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ-E2mcax2A

Know The Enemy
Ever wondered how those thieving litlle buggers knick your bike? Here's how..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y1ykH3DDTQ

Bait Bikes
Apparently is legal for the city to steal your bike and sell it after stripping it to be untraceable
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doWT0bV_wJw

donnambr
04-18-2007, 11:20 PM
Now how the heck do you deal with something like this? I just about fell out of my chair when I read it.

http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/314327810.html