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Police: No complaints lodged against The Recyclery

Posted by on March 4th, 2010 at 8:56 am

The Recyclery is moving-21

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.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Anonymous March 4, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Wow entitlement for bike dealers in Portland who woulda thunk it.

    Why should bike shops be exempt from the same rules as any other business that deals in used goods?

    The Recyclery has to hold bikes for two weeks and check serial numbers but bike shops don’t?

    How does this help with reducing bicycle thefts if you can easily find a place to sell a bike and know nothing will be checked?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 4, 2010 at 9:05 am


      I’m not sure i understand your comment. The Recyclery does not have a special exemption… they are held to same standards for reporting purchases as all other bike shops.

      To clarify, all shops have to hold bikes for 2 weeks and check serial numbers on all used bike purchases.

      As for your claim of “entitlement for bike dealers”… there were important reasons for them wanting to be treated differently than pawn shops. They shared these concerns with Sgt. King and others at the City and through months of negotiations, a solution was found. I didn’t address this in more detail in this story because that’s not what this story is about.


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  • Marcus Griffith March 4, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Sooner or later most business run amuck of a code or regulation so a single fine years ago does show signs of a fencing operation.

    Current bike laws make it easy to sell a stolen bike. But, remember every time mandatory bike registration laws are discussed, the bike crowd is the loudest opponent.

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  • Case March 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

    “Sooner or later most business run amuck of a code or regulation so a single fine years ago does show signs of a fencing operation.”

    Prove it. This is an irresponsible comment, borderline “Corporate America” paranoia. Any used item business that received a single fine years ago is indicative of a fencing operation? Get real.

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  • q'Ztal March 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

    #2 JM
    I think #1@anon was was referring to used bike sales versus used everything else sales, ie. pawn shops.
    Even if there is a good reason for used bikes sales to be treated differently from pawn shops when the O gets a hold of it the story will be blown in to something like “BICYCLES ONCE AGAIN GETTING SPECIAL TREATMENT IN A HUSH HUSH PPD DEAL.”
    For the sake of killing this non-issue before it cranks up Sgt. King needs to provide some clarification.

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  • Case March 4, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Also, tell me how bike registration is going to keep bikes from being stolen and sold. I just don’t see it.

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  • Joe March 4, 2010 at 9:43 am

    First an ill-informed story based on a craigslist post http://bikeportland.org/2009/10/25/bike-thief-exposed-on-craigslist/

    Now one based on some fliers and probably more CL sour grapes.

    What gives?

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  • are March 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

    the present ordinance
    was adopted in 2007 in response to a 2005 FBI “sting” that exposed portland as a fertile ground for fencing operations.
    bicycles are listed as regulated property in the administrative rule adopted by the revenue bureau
    dealers in used property are required to obtain a permit for a fee of three hundred dollars, plus two fifty per additional location.
    the present police bureau procedure for handling these issues
    provides for a thirty-day hold on suspected stolen property.

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  • Tim March 4, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Bike theft is a big downer for everyone who rides. If you don’t want your bike stolen, take the same precautions when buying used bikes and parts as you do when you lock your bike. It is not that hard to weed out the shady from the legit, weather you are dealing on Craig’s list or with a used bike shop. The person selling the part or bike should know the history behind it and be willing to identify who they are and where they got the bike. Check the serial numbers for yourself. The short chubby guy selling a large high end road bike has some explaining to do. I would never buy from a shop that would not tell me who owned the bike or from an individual selling a bike for a “friend”. If the deal is too good to be true, it is. There is a real need for legitimate ways to buy and sell used bikes and parts.
    Like many enthusiasts, I am starting to get a collection of used parts that I would like to trade for something I could use. Donating to CCC is also an option.

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  • trail user March 4, 2010 at 10:01 am

    They have these cheap engravers over at harbor freight on interstate that let you engrave your phone number on the top tube of your bike. Whoever ends up with my bike will have to stare at my phone number with a guilty conscience. Or not, if he or she is a bastard thief.

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  • resopmok March 4, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Case #4 –
    I think he actually meant to put a “not” after “does” in Marcus #3’s first sentence, therefore implying most businesses, like citizens, break minor regulations from time to time but this doesn’t make them criminals. Correct me if I’m wrong, Marcus.

    Registration might pair more stolen bikes with their original owners again, but I doubt it would be much of a deterrent – it hasn’t stopped car theft. Also, bikes are easier to part out; they need less work to disassemble and are smaller and easier to resell halfway across the country even. Let’s just be glad bike theft isn’t as bad here as in New York.

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  • are March 4, 2010 at 10:03 am

    again looking at the police bureau policy
    nothing in here mentioning “bicycles” as such. possibly the compromise that made the policy more “palatable” to bike dealers has to do with the thirty-day hold mechanism. take a look at

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  • trail user March 4, 2010 at 10:35 am

    For kicks, I shaved most of the threads on a set of pedals that I install on an expensive looking bike. A thief jumps on the bike, I give chase, and when the thief goes to stand, *BOOM* pedals give way and he talks with a high pitched voice. Two birds with one stone.

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  • Jackattak March 4, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Glad to see The Recyclery and Robby getting some vindication where due by the PPB. Nobody likes anonymous smears or libel, particularly on good businesses that provide a good service.

    Keep up the good work, Robby. I’ll continue to do business at the Downtown location. Your staff are always pleasant and helpful to me and my wife, who are NOT “bikey” people. 🙂

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  • Justin March 4, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Honestly The Recyclery has not been my favorite bike shop. But recklessly accusing them of selling stolen goods when there’s no evidence they’ve done and, and a lot that they’ve actively worked to comply with the law, is just juvenile. I hope this smear campaign backfires on someone.

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  • Caroline March 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    This is responsible reporting to share quotes from the police, though it could have been lumped together with the initial report to be more fair to Fenstermaker.

    If those signs have been up a while, what’s one more day while you research them?

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  • Bob_M March 4, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I am reminded of the old political character asasination

    “Is it true you have stopped beating your wife?”

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  • […] under Bike Shops, Bike Theft, Front Page, News. Feel free to respond. Possibly related posts Police: No complaints lodged against The RecycleryStolen: Surley CrosscheckBlue/Purple Trek 1220 1990sStolen Trek 1200campagnolo raligh frame w/ all […]

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  • a.O March 4, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Sad to say, but anonymous flyers seems totally characteristic of the kind of passive-aggressive crap you get from many Portlanders.

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  • spare_wheel March 4, 2010 at 11:41 am

    This new information suggests that the previous post from a “Tess” who claimed that the Recyclery attempted to sell her her own stolen bike is libelous.

    Jonathan, What exactly is your policy for libelous comments. Would you provide IP information, for example?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm


      as per the story above, the PPB did not begin monitoring Recyclery until 2006. Tess’s case could have happened before that.

      as for my policy on “libelous” comments. I don’t have one…. but case law is murkey about whether or not publishers are responsible for them (I’ve had some first hand experience in this).


      I’ve added an update to the first story with a link to this one. And yes, I could have researched one more day before publishing. But I didn’t.

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  • wsbob March 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    “This new information suggests that the previous post from a “Tess” who claimed that the Recyclery attempted to sell her her own stolen bike is libelous. …” spare_wheel #20

    spare_wheel, what new information? What ‘Tess’ post(s) are you referring to? How do you mean ‘libel’?

    Regarding the person commenting as Tess in the previous thread on this subject, I am curious as to whether this person might have…in addition to reportedly contacting and working with the police to get the bike back…done something additional to make an official record of the incident.

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  • sabes March 4, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    To go along with a commenter on the previous thread, the previous article probably should not have been posted without this article along with it. The first article seems like poor journalism. There’s a story! Hurry! Post it! Instead of spending some time doing some…..journalism….like talking to the police department or people who will go on the record, etc.

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  • Troy King March 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    A few points of clarification:

    #1 The FBI sting did not find fault in a single pawnshop. The few stores which were engaged in illegal activity were all secondhand stores, not pawnshops. All of those secondhand stores are now out of business. It is also important to note that none of those secondhand stores were bike stores.

    #2 The regulations which apply to bike stores are exactly the same as those which apply to all other secondhand stores. Some changes were made to the law as a result of input from the bicycle community as well as other sectors of the community. Those changes were implemented and affected all secondhand dealers. Pawnshops are also held to this same standard for bikes which they buy. Property which is pawned (brought in as collateral for a pawn loan) is regulated differently as mandated by state law. However, all of these businesses are required to report to the police what regulated property they are acquiring, to include serial numbers, and from whom they are buying. Every serial number of every used bike which is purchased by one of these shops is checked against state and national stolen property databases. The Recyclery is one of the bike shops which reports their purchases to Portland Police.

    #3 If the people making anonymous public allegations truly believed the allegations, it would have been helpful to have forwarded that information to law enforcement so that we could investigate.

    #4 In the last two years around 2,000 bikes were reported stolen to Portland area police. Less than one third of these reports contained a serial number. During roughly the same time period Police recovered more than 500 bikes which they could not match to an owner. My advice, for what it is worth: At a minimum, record your bike’s serial number and description. If it is stolen, report the theft to the police (as well as Bikeportland.org), and if you hear of someone who is possibly buying or selling stolen bikes, tell the police.

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  • cyclist March 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Sabes #23:

    My prediction of what Jonathan’s response will be:

    “I appreciate your concern, I was simply trying to share a story that would be of interest in the community. In no way was I trying to imply guilt, and tried to be as neutral as possible when writing the article.

    In hindsight, perhaps the story would have been better had I waited until I had the whole story. I’ll take your concerns into consideration in the future.”

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

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  • Mike B. March 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    sabes #23

    – I think a fair amount of time was given to this story prior to it being published. I provided the picture of the flyer in the previous post well over a week ago to Jonathan, so it appears some time was spent prior to the story posting. Like many comments have stated this is something that is not “new” information in regards to this establishment. I have no opinion one way or another, I’m just sorry I didn’t get the flyer centered in my photo.

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  • Caroline March 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Hey everybody! I know! Since we can’t crucify Robbie, let’s crucify Jonathan instead!

    Move along.

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  • jake March 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Caroline, that was perfect! 😉

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  • Toby March 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    @Marcus #3 – I don’t think “the bike crowd” (whoever they are) have opposed bike license programs because they might help recover stolen bikes (though presumably thieves could removed license stickers and/or grind off serial numbers). Most of the opposition is based instead on the idea that licensing would make cyclists “pay their fair share” like motorists. This is both wrongheaded (I cause very little wear and tear to the roads) and impractical (no licensing scheme in the US has to my knowledge ever brought in more money than it cost to administer).

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  • Eric in Seattle March 4, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    If anyone has any specific, credible evidence of wrongdoing by the Recyclery (or any other shop for that matter) they should go to the cops. If not, they should hold their tongue. I also would advise people to discount anonymous allegations made on chat forums and flyers on telephone posts. Remember, just because you read it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true!

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  • Hart March 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I stopped going to The Recyclery because they had the worst customer service of any bike shop I’d been to in the country. Hopefully these were the people who got fired.

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  • wsbob March 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    As one example of how the purchase of stolen goods from people with little ownership history does occur, even with the I.D. checks and thumbprint precautions, how about this story in today’s Oregonian?

    It’s about the theft of a toy collector/private, small neighborhood museum owner that had a big portion of his collection wholesale hauled off. A Hawthorne Blvd second-hand dealer was buying some of the stuff.

    The story leaves open the question of whether he would have stopped or continued buying if the collectors’ friends hadn’t happened to see some the booty on sale in the second-hand store.

    Thieves take $350,000 worth of toys out of Portland home from Frank Kidd, owner of Kidd’s Toy Museum/Oregonian 3/3/10 Maxine Bernstein

    So while it may be uncomfortable…some seem to be saying…unfair…for Recylery bike shop owner Robbie Fenstermaker to be under the pressure he is over these not fully established allegations, it looks like it’s part of the business he happens to be in.

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  • wsbob March 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Unintentional humor:

    “… It’s about the theft of a toy collector/private, small neighborhood museum owner…”

    Make that:

    ‘It’s about the theft of a big portion of a toy collector-private small neighborhood museum owners’ collection…wholesale hauled off.

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  • Marcus Griffith March 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Case: Comment #4, my comment #3, was supposed to read:

    “Sooner or later most business run amuck of a code or regulation so a single fine years ago does NOT show signs of a fencing operation.”

    The “NOt” was left out by error. I should have caught, but I didn’t

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