Bike Theft

Portland police will exchange a U-lock for your cable lock on Sunday

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on June 23rd, 2016 at 10:41 am

hales lock
Mayor Charlie Hales on his way to work last fall.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As bike theft has become the only major category of crime in Portland that’s on a long-term rise, cable locks have been going the way of the station wagon and the wristwatch.

The Portland State University Bike Hub doesn’t even sell them. When Mayor Charlie Hales briefly started biking to work last fall, Willamette Week wrote an entire online article about the fact that he used a cable lock. (His wife Nancy, a regular bike commuter, told us at the time that it was because they’d misplaced their U-lock keys that day.)

Apparently the Bike Theft Task Force at the Portland Police Bureau agrees. In a tweet on Wednesday, the team said they’ll be offering a lock exchange program at North Portland Sunday Parkways this weekend: you give them a cable lock, they give you a U-lock.


Will the next Craigslist actually fight bike theft?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 17th, 2015 at 11:10 am

OfferUp has $90 million in venture funding and is growing fast as an alternative to Craigslist in part by branding itself as friendlier and less anonymous.

A new crop of well-funded Craigslist competitors has some anti-bike-theft organizers smelling an opportunity.

Craigslist, the San Francisco-based classifieds website founded in 1995, is a common venue for reselling stolen bikes, in part because it does almost nothing to regulate the goods people buy and sell.

“Craigslist is a freaking wall a mile high,” said Bryan Hance, the Portland-based operator of the anti-theft service BikeIndex.org. “They just don’t do anything with anybody. They just don’t care.”


Bait bike programs trace thefts but can struggle to convict, KATU reports

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on November 4th, 2015 at 8:35 am

With Reed College’s bait bike program dealing with enforcement challenges, local ABC affiliate KATU-TV is shedding more light on the thorny issue of theft deterrence.

In the most recent case, KATU reported yesterday, one of the bikes that the college has equipped with a GPS unit was tracked to a “chop shop hidden behind [a] bookcase.” But nobody was arrested, because there was no easy way to prove that any specific person in the house had done the deed.


With new authority, TriMet moves to clear unused bikes from its racks

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 2nd, 2015 at 5:17 pm

bike rack
Should keep things a bit clearer.
(Photo: TriMet)

The Portland area’s public transit agency has given itself the power to seize and discard bicycles abandoned at its stations for more than a few days.

As part of a general code overhaul approved last February and effective Wednesday with the start of TriMet’s fiscal year, the TriMet board of directors approved a new code provision allowing for “a bicycle left on any property of the District Transit System for more than 72 hours may be impounded.”


Bike Theft Task Force, Project 529 team up on census effort with new app

by on May 18th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Love bikes? Hate theft? Seeking volunteers to build
a baseline of Portland bike parking
(Graphic by J Allard)

J Allard is CEO and Founder of Project 529 and a Core Team member of the Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force.

I’ve learned a lot about bike theft after being victimized 3 years ago, and even more as we’ve developed and rolled out the 529 Garage. A common pattern as I speak to people is the desire for a silver bullet solution. Sorry fellow cyclists, there isn’t one.

Fact is, today’s bike thieves and fences are more organized, more dedicated and leveraging technology better than the communities they are attacking. To fight back, we’re going to have to step up our game, and I’m happy that here in Portland we’ve begun to with the formation of the Bike Theft Task Force.

One of my biggest learnings is how little data and research exists. I can’t think of any $400 million problem (annual, in the US alone) that has received as little focused attention as bike theft. Sure, there’s a couple of general reports, but no deep studies on the problem that can offer much insight to the problem as we search for answers.

In Portland, crime has plummeted in every major category except one

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 30th, 2015 at 9:15 am

bike theft trend
Chart: BikePortland. Data: Portland Police Bureau via PSU Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute.

Like most cities in the developed world, Portland is a dramatically more secure place than it was in 1995.

Reported residential burglaries per resident are down 63 percent. Auto theft is down 69 pecent. Gun crime is down 86 percent.

But 20 years of Portland crime statistics collected Wednesday on Portland State University’s website showed that there’s a single glaring exception: bike theft. It’s up 50 percent since 1995.


Video from Philly shows thief removing sign pole to steal a bike

by on January 30th, 2015 at 11:13 am

Out comes the pole, off goes the bike.
(Photo from WPVI-TV)

Bike theft is a national problem. I know we’ve focused on it quite a bit here in Portland, but I think it’s important to know that every major city is struggling with the issue.

As part of my daily grind I skim news headlines for bicycle-related items. One story that I think is worth sharing comes from WPVI-TV (ABC) in Philadelphia. I was struck by how it described such a similar situation to what we’re experiencing here in Portland.

What really amazed me was the video the news station shared. In it, a thief wearing a hoodie and gloves unscrews a sign pole, lifts it out of the ground, throws it on the sidewalk and cooly pedals away. All in just 30 seconds.

Check it out below…

The simple way to end bike theft: Externalize the costs

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 17th, 2014 at 10:56 am

go by bike overhead
OHSU covers the costs and reaps many benefits from the South Waterfront’s free-to-use bike valet. If we’re willing to listen, its success could be a lesson.
(Photo: Go By Bike)

America's Next Bicycle Capital

Part of our series of guest posts, America’s Next Bicycle Capital, where we share community voices about the future of biking in Portland. This week’s guest writer is Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike shop and operator of the Go By Bike valet.


Repeat after me: it is not your fault your bike got stolen. Even if you were a dummy and left your custom bike unlocked only to return several hours later and find it stolen, it is not your fault.

The solution to ending bike theft is easy. It starts with this fact: we are already dealing as individuals with the costs of theft.


Thieves break into Gladys Bikes on Alberta, steal two bikes

by on November 25th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Damage to Gladys Bikes’ front door.
(Photo: Leah Benson)

Bike shop owner Leah Benson is Portland’s latest bike theft victim.

Benson owns Gladys Bikes at 2905 NE Alberta Street. She shared the bad news earlier this evening: “I received a call in the wee hours of the morning telling me that someone had shattered our front door and broken into the shop.”

The thieves made off with two bikes and Benson is urging everyone to keep an eye out for a Giant Liv Alight city bike and a Bianchi Lupo drop bar road bike. We know how stolen bikes tend to turn up shortly after being stolen, so time is of the essence! (Scroll down for photos of the bikes.)

Shop break-ins are all too common in Portland. We’ve reported on several in the past few years. Between November 2011 and February 2012, a thief known as the “window pane bandit” hit four separate shops.

The battle against bike theft in Portland has begun

by on November 13th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

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: