Salem Watch: Bike theft prevention law up for hearing today

Posted by on February 17th, 2011 at 9:47 am

Harrison St Bike Garage at PSU

House Bill 2824 is up for a public hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee in Salem today. The bill would create a new crime for “trafficking in bicycles with a destroyed or altered serial number.” Maximum punishment for a violation of the law would come with a $1,250 fine, 30 days in jail, or both.

Here’s the the language of the proposed law as currently written:

“A person commits the offense of trafficking in bicycles with a destroyed or altered serial number if the person knowingly buys, sells, receives, disposes of, conceals or has in the person’s possession a bicycle from which the serial number has been removed, defaced, covered, altered or destroyed for the purpose of concealing or misrepresenting the identity of the bicycle.”

The bill is currently sponsored by House Reps Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), Jules Bailey (D-Portland), Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), and Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene).

In other legislative news, our friends at Active Right of Way have caught wind of a newly introduced bill that would, “authorize(s) cities with population exceeding 100,000 to designate speeds on highways under specified circumstances.” The bill, HB 3150, is sponsored by three Portland House Democrats, Ben Cannon (D-Portland), Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), and Jackie Dingfelder (D-Portland). High-speed state highways run through many parts of Portland (and other Oregon cities).

Stay tuned for more updates and see all our 2011 Legislative Session coverage here.

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BjornareDave ThomsonJohn LandolfeEugene Bicyclist Recent comment authors
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Ken Southerland
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Ken Southerland

Umm, help me out here. So if you so happen to have a bike with a rubbed off serial number in your possession, let’s say someone leaves it leaning against your house, you are in a real conundrum. You can’t sell it, give it away, ride it, throw it away, or keep it. Nor can you conceal it by cutting it up and making a freak bike out of it. I’m guessing using dynamite on it would also constitute concealment.

So it’s a $1250 fine or 30 days for you!

OK, calling the cops and explaining desperately your conundrum in the hopes that they believe you may be your way out. And so then the cops get to destroy it?
How does this bike get back into service?

amckimmey
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amckimmey

I have a bike that has no serial number. Hand built Bill Davidson.

Rebecca
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Rebecca

HB 3150 – That’s the bill I’ve been wanting to see! Thank you Cannon, Burdick, and Dingfelder. Any word on ODOT’s position on this bill?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

yes, HB 3150 needs it’s own article…

Ken Southerland
Guest
Ken Southerland

Oh yeah, my handbuilt MAP has no serial number either. Take it from my cold dead hands!

Joe
Guest
Joe

I ride hand made bikes, no serials on them.. but mine 🙂

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I like the idea for the serial numbers. That is, for those of us who can’t afford, or don’t have the skills to have a handmade bike.

Ely
Guest
Ely

If your bike has no serial number, then it cannot have a destroyed or altered serial number. No problem.

And if someone left a bike leaning against your house… wouldn’t you call to report abandoned property anyway? Not your problem.

Brian E
Guest
Brian E

Wow, I didn’t know that we had such a problem with altered serial numbers. Let’s put our best people on the job and solve that right away!
http://www.sarcasmsociety.com/howtorecognizesarcasm

craig
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craig

Good point. I would be useful to hear about why this bill matters to these legislators, to hear them describe the details and data surrounding the problem that it addresses. I’ve had two bikes stolen from my home and am interested in the related statistics and enforcement activities.

Eugene Bicyclist
Guest

The cop who testified (who was from Corvallis) talked about 1,200 bikes being stolen in Corvallis in the past four years — close to a bike a day in a town of, what, 50K or so? — a college town, so lots of bikes around, I’m sure. And probably a fair number of thefts go unreported.

Just thought I’d add what was talked about in testimony at the hearing. But, no, there were no specifics mentioned about statewide numbers or numbers of bikes that had serial numbers removed/altered.

Would be interesting info to have, I agree.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Okay, so what to do know? Two years ago, I bought an old steel frame Peugeot off Craigslist. Just the frame and fork and built the rest of it with other parts from a bike a previous roommate abandoned in the shed and some stuff at City Bikes and the CCC. From what I understand, Peugeots for the longest time just used a paper sticker and adhesive tape for the serial number and that is going to fall off a 25+ year old bike. The person was selling some other parts that were obviously not original equipment and I saw no red flags this guy was a theif.

To protect myself, I decided to go to Harbor Freight and bought one of those engraver tools (but thus far have been too lazy to actually sketch my phone number or some other identifying number on it.) Would that make it a double whammy for me with no serial number plus an altered serial number?

Editz
Guest
Editz

The USDOT requires VIN stamps for motorized vehicles. Maybe it’s time for bicycles too.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Get back to work Salem. Baby trailers. Bike serial numbers. All good in theory. We have much bigger problems on our hands. If cops find a bike theft ring, they have plenty of laws to win a conviction.

Eugene Bicyclist
Guest

Geez. The knee-jerk paranoia that pops up here on stuff like this is baffling to me.

I listened to the hearing online. Basically, this is a bill to make it harder to traffic in stolen bikes. Why are cyclists and advocates so skittish about it? A BTA guy testified at the hearing. He didn’t exactly oppose the bill, but he raised a bunch of “concerns,” a lot of which were similar to those outlined in this thread.

But he sounded foolish, because the “concerns” weren’t tracking at all with the way the bill was written. It sounded like he hadn’t actually read the bill. For instance, the bill specifically targets: serial numbers removed with the intent to deceive others about the identity of the bike. It was very specific. And written so as not to implicate someone who unknowingly ended up with a bike with a filed-off serial number.

And the BTA guy was off talking about hand-made bikes that don’t have serial numbers. This had nothing to do with anything.

Anyway, the hearing ended with the chairman saying something like — “sounds like the bill needs more work.” My take on why he said that (my own speculation, yes, could be wrong) is that the bike “community” represented by BTA wasn’t on the same page as the Corvallis cop who was explaining why he thought the bill would help.

I appreciate what BTA does, but in this case, it came off sounding like “we hate anything that in any way might make any law that might, possibly, theoretically be perceived as ‘regulation’ of the bicycle.” This is like what the NRA does.

Maybe that’s the idea.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

@Eugene Bicyclist – Intent of BTA guy was actually to forward concerns expressed to BTA by the CCC around the law. The BTA does not have a position on the bill at this point because they have a process through which bills go through before a position is taken, and this bill went to a hearing very quickly after being introduced. The BTA lobbyist was attempting to express interest in the bill by the BTA but also trying to express some concerns around the bill raised by other organizations which do not have the resources to give testimony on every bill in Salem. The BTA obviously opposes bike theft but it is not like every time a bill is introduced the legislator who does so has come months in advance to the BTA to build support for it. In cases like this I think it is good policy to carefully review a bill and to talk to other organizations who might be impacted like the Community Cycling Center before just blindly supporting it. I disagree that the BTA is opposing every bike bill that comes out. I have a list of 17 bills that impact cycling currently identified by the BTA for this session, they currently oppose one of these bills.

random_rider
Guest
random_rider

I agree with the intent of this bill and hope that, with some slight alteration, it can make it easier to prosecute those who traffic in stolen bikes intentionally or with blatant indifference. It’s another tool in the law enforcement bag that could be used against these criminals.

As it is written now though the terms “knowingly” and “for the purpose of” seem very fuzzy and almost impossible to prove.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Also in conversations today I have been amongst many who was a bit puzzled by the highways definition in the bill that would allow local control of speed limits.

https://www.oregonlaws.org/glossary/definition/highway

The legal definition of highway is basically what I would call a street/road/highway, it is very broad. There is also a Senate version of this bill, SB344, which has some different wording. I would like to see a combined version that eliminates the minimum of 100000 people restriction so towns like Corvallis would be included and that allows control of any street not just the narrowly allowed ones in the SB. I hope that folks will support these as either one would allow the City of Portland to reduce the speed limit on neighborhood greenways to 20mph.

I also would like to issue a plea as someone who dedicates a significant amount of time volunteering to work on attempting to improve bicycling in Oregon through the legislative process. Please Please Please when you contact legislators pretend you are trying to convince your mom or dad of something. If you were trying to sway the opinion of your mom you would not cuss at her, you would not call her names, you would calmly try to argue your case. Doing otherwise has a real impact on the ability of any group, the BTA, GEARs, or the City of Portland to get things passed. It is very frustrating to try to talk to a legislator about a bill and to have them want to show you email after email filled with cursing and vitriol. I know a lot of people think that legislators should have thicker skins but realistically we have a citizen legislature. Many of these folks are not career politicians, they more closely resemble my parents. They are generally hard working and don’t get paid a ton for the job. Cyclists would benefit greatly from taking a deep breath and trying not to alienate allies not to mention opponents.

Eugene Bicyclist
Guest

@Bjorn
Thanks for trying to clarify what you guys were doing. I don’t think the lobbyist did a great job of expressing the concerns. I don’t believe he mentioned the Community Cycling Center at all — possibly describing what they do and why they had concerns would have been a better approach.

I’m not saying there is nothing wrong with this bill. I have a question or two about it myself. But the testimony the BTA lobbyist offered wasn’t convincing.

Yes, it’s too bad those who were writing the bill didn’t come to BTA earlier. I know that’s not BTA’s fault.

are
Guest

if the effect was to defer action on the fill for further study, then the guy did his job

are
Guest

incidentally, one might ask (and people on this thread are asking) what is the impetus for this bill. on the off-chance that this is a foot in the door for bike registration, i think it makes sense for BTA to be vigilant.

Dan
Guest
Dan

amckimmey
I have a bike that has no serial number. Hand built Bill Davidson.

ME TOO!!!!!!

John Landolfe
Guest

I can see why people are worried, especially with the “buy” or “in possession” items (to get these bikes out of circulation would take a major public education campaign) but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water. Bike theft is a major issue that impacts peoples’ finances and ability to get on with simple daily tasks. Bike theft also has not always been taken seriously by law enforcement.

I know this might ruffle some feathers, but my best guess tells me the number of theft victims far out numbers the number of people with hand built bikes. It might be worth creating a simple serializing method for custom bike owners if it protects the larger populace.

Laws can be complex beasts requiring fine tuning. This issue is worth getting right.

Dave Thomson
Guest
Dave Thomson

Some of you need to read the actual wording that Jonathan posted. The law only applies if you are “concealing or misrepresenting the identity of the bicycle”. In other words if you are dealing with a bicycle you know is stolen.

are
Guest

actually, this is one of the points on which the draft “needs more work.” what it actually says is if you are in possession of a bike that anyone — doesn’t have to be you — defaced the serial number on, provided that person — whoever it was — had criminal intent.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

For me it raised the issue of would the police be allowed to auction bikes they recovered if the serial numbers had been defaced by a criminal then recovered by the cops. I hate bike theft, but that doesn’t mean I want to see bikes that are stolen sent to the crusher if the owner can’t be found.