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Bike Theft

The battle against bike theft in Portland has begun

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
theft-suspect
I had a long conversation with this
man under the Burnside Bridge last week.
He’s a bike theft suspect well-known
to the PPB.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

Portlanders are rising up to fight the growing scourge of bike theft.

From the many sources I’m tracking, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, business owners, and other agencies and community leaders are taking the bull by the horns.

And it’s a big bull.

Through a mix of official enforcement actions and old-fashioned, grassroots neighborhood organizing both offline and through social media, bike thieves are coming up against a harsh reality: We are sick and tired of how out-of-control this problem has gotten and a feeling of “enough is enough!” has reached a boiling point in Portland.

After getting my bike stolen — and then taking it back — earlier this month, I’ve been learning as much as I can about the local bike theft scene. I’ve reached out to various players (including the alleged thieves themselves on one occasion) and have followed the issue closely. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed several separate actions taking place and figured it was time to share them here on the Front Page.

Here are some updates and ongoing efforts we’re following:
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How I stole my bike back

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Stole my bike back!-1
Found it! (Can you tell I was a bit nervous at that moment?)

It’s back! I found my bike and am happy to report it’s right here next to me in my office.

Let’s rewind…
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Please help me find my bike – UPDATED!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
Tour of Aufderheide-31
If you see this bike, please contact me at 503-706-8804. Note that it has fenders and different tires than shown in this photo.

UPDATE, 3:15pm: Found my bike. Stole it back. Story to come

My Cielo is gone. Someone grabbed it from outside my office building at the corner of SW 4th and Stark this morning around 9:00 am. Please help me find it.

I was not thinking straight and left it unlocked. I know it sounds crazy. But it happened. I feel horrible. I had ghost-ridden it to work this morning alongside my city bike (like I usually do at the beginning of the week, so it can stay in my office for lunch rides) and I set it against the rack next to my other bike. I locked my city bike and then walked up to the fourth floor, only to realize — several hours later — that I left it just sitting there. (I’ve had lots of heavy stuff on my mind lately and was just not thinking clearly.) (more…)

Comment of the week: Courts, not cops, as the core of bike theft neglect

Friday, October 31st, 2014
A police raid on allegedly stolen bikes in Old Town in July 2012.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It’s one of the maddening paradoxes of the bike world: biking is so cheap and efficient that it’s a blip on almost every chart.

Biking infrastructure is so easy to build that there’s no army of contractors to lobby for it. Biking education is difficult because it’s so easy to just buy a bike and start riding. And bike theft doesn’t get penalized because a bike can be the most important object in someone’s life even though it’s only worth $50.

Reader Todd Hudson captured an aspect of this problem in a comment beneath this week’s post about a Portland cop who’s leading the fight against bike theft from the front lines.

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PPB officer on a mission to curb downtown bike theft

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Ofcr David Sanders PPB
Officer David Sanders.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a strong feeling among many in the community that the Portland Police Bureau simply doesn’t care about bike theft. I hear this sentiment all the time, and I agree that the bureau needs to step up and make this growing problem a higher priority.

In the meantime however, it’s good to know there are some PPB officers going out of their way to battle bike thieves. Officer David Sanders is one of them; but unfortunately he’s doing it inside a bureau that has yet to join him in the fight.

I met Sanders last week at his headquarters office in Old Town.

As he led me into a conference table, I noticed about 8-10 bikes strewn about. They were just the latest batch that Sanders and his partners have taken off the streets and now hope to connect with their owners. Sanders is one of six members of the the downtown Bicycle Patrol Unit (four of which are paid for by Portland Patrol Inc., a private security company that contracts with the PPB), whose job is to keep the peace on the streets. The bulk of his day is responding to low-level disputes and establishing relationships with downtown residents and business owners.

But whenever he can find a few extra minutes, his attention turns to bike theft.
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Raising the profile of Portland’s bike theft problem

Friday, October 17th, 2014
cityhallmeeting-gordly
Putting bike theft on their radar.
(Photo: City of Portland)

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Portland has a serious theft problem when it comes to bicycles and bike parts. For all of you that feel hopeless about it, I wanted to chime in and say I think there are some signs that the tide is finally starting to turn against the thieves.

We’ve been focused on this issue for over nine years — ever since we first launched our Stolen Bike Listings in September 2005. Since then we’ve helped recover so many bikes I stopped counting a long time ago (I’d guess it’s well into the 100s by now). Back in the early days I actually used to list bikes manually while taking information from aggrieved victims over the phone!

Almost 6,000 stolen bikes later, our listings have become a key part of the local fight against thieves.
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Bike Theft Chronicles: DRT winning Bike Friday stolen, possibly seen in Portland

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
2014 Disaster Relief Trials-118
Stolen in Eugene on Friday and it might be in Portland now.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Willie Hatfield, the winner of Portland’s Disaster Relief Trials event has just informed us that the bike he used — a custom Bike Friday — was stolen in Eugene this past Friday. (more…)

Bike Theft Chronicles: ‘Scumbag’ stealing lights in broad daylight

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

via reader email and Reddit:

theft-reddit-chronicles
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Bike Theft Chronicles: ‘They snapped the sign off the pole’

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

This installment comes in the form of a Twitter conversation:


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Bike Theft Chronicles: Stolen from TriMet bus rack

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

From RM on 9/24/14:

“About two weeks ago my husband’s bike was stolen off the front of a TriMet bus. It was not taken by another rider. It was taken by a random person on the street who ran up to the bus, grabbed his bike and rode off. The driver alerted our friend, who had borrowed the bike but by the time she got off the bus the thief could not be caught. I contacted TriMet and got a weak sorry from them but no hint that they could or would compensate us for the loss. The person I spoke to said, “it’s public transit,” like that somehow made it all go away. From what I understand, this type of thing is a rarity and I would think that TriMet’s Risk department or some such would have a way to compensate (even a small amount) for the loss of something that was put in their care while someone is riding the bus. I’ve made a report to the police but am not holding my breath for a result. Our homeowner’s policy has a deductible greater than the value of the bike. I don’t know if you have any suggestions or influence in a matter of this sort, but any input or help would be greatly appreciated.”

— Read more Bike Theft Chronicles

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