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Bike Theft Chronicles: “I just feel so defeated and vulnerable”

Posted by on October 1st, 2014 at 2:33 pm

“I’ve had it up to here with the stolen bike parts in Portland… This is just another notch in the belt of biker discrimination and injustice.”
— Reader email, 9/24/14

As we reported back in July, bike theft in Portland is out of control. The problem shows no sign of going away and in fact, if my judgment of web chatter and other intelligence-gathering channels I monitor daily is correct, it’s getting worse.

We are working to help in various ways (a major update to our Stolen Bike Listings is coming online soon and we’re sitting down with the PPB next week to talk about various strategies), but in the meantime I wanted to do something with the constant stream of emails we receive on this topic.

So, I’m going to start posting emails, tweets, and other things we receive here at BikePortland HQ related to bike theft on Page Two under the column heading: Bike Theft Chronicles. Think of it sort of like the Portland Mercury’s I, Anonymous feature. The reason it will go on Page Two (I’ll also tweet them) and not here on the Front Page is that they’ll be informal, quick posts.

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Here’s the first one to give you a taste of what we’ll be posting:

via email on 9/24/14:

“I’ve had it up to *here* with the stolen bike parts in Portland. I work on 6th & E. Burnside, and park my bike in that neighborhood regularly — unfortunately because there is minimal bike parking racks in our office building. My bike was parked outside when the Brooks saddle and seat post were stolen. I just saw on Craigslist another person got their Brooks saddle and seat post were also stolen in the last 24 hrs in a similar location — just a few blocks up from where my bike was. How are we supposed to park our bikes anywhere outside and feel safe/secure/protected? This is just another notch in the belt of biker discrimination and injustice. I know that sounds exaggerated but seriously – I just feel so defeated and vulnerable (among the bikers who’ve had parts/bikes stolen). Is there a way we can protect our bikes and our biking territory?”

My hope in doing this is to not only document the scope of this problem, but also to tap into community wisdom. So please consider sharing your insights, condolences, and so on. (I’ll keep all of these messages anonymous so as not to discourage folks from writing in.)

If you have something to share about bike theft, please contact us (tweeting @BikePortland works too) and we’ll consider it for the Bike Theft Chronicles.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Zaphod
Guest

Son (age 10 at the time) had his bike stolen, replaced and stolen again. Both times bike was locked with a U lock. More recently (now age 11), his bike had handlebars, seat, seatpost and brakes mid-theft when a friend confronted the perpetrator. They mumbled some random excuse and departed. The friend is a woman who bravely confronted this homeless man. The only harm was replacing the brakes and re-cabling all the cut shifter & brake cables.

It’s not good out there. The best solution is a bike with little appeal and a beefy lock. My commuter looks like not much even though it’s a bomber ride and it’s locked solidly. No quick releases to be found & nothing fancy…no gears.

dan
Guest
dan

Within the last week in Old Town, I saw a very sketchy fellow with a carbon road bike, and my wife saw two people with a high-end tri bike who walked away rapidly when they noticed her checking them out.

Given that there is, say, a 95% chance those bikes were stolen, is there anything that can be done when I see them on the street like that? Will the cops come for suspicion of a stolen bike? Is there a hashtag to mobilize a cyclist flash mob? Or ??

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Last week I saw one of those “road warriors” that plague Waterfront Park carrying a TAG composite wheel – those go for $500 a set. There’s no way anyone can convince me he acquired it legally.

Rita
Guest
Rita

How about, when you see a sketchy looking character with a high end bike, you take a photo and send BikePortland? I know I often look sketchy when I jump on my bike mid-construction-project & pedal off for a needed part, so I’m not necessarily convinced the character is a thief, but a photo is a non-intrusive way of grabbing evidence rather than feeling powerless.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

So this is basically along the lines of something I’m about to talk to Jonathan about this morning… watch this space 🙂

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Why don’t I take a photo of a sketchy-looking vagrant? Because I don’t feel like risking getting stabbed.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

hope that was not me. on weekends when i have not shaved for a few days i can look a bit sketchy.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Glad to hear that Stolen Bike Listings is still coming back!

A request to Bryan Hance and BikePortland, in the spirit of cooperation that actually gets stolen bikes returned, could you include on your pages a list any other widely used bike theft registries, especially ones which police check? Even if those other registries are not as open and cooperative as BikeIndex.org, at least it gives both victims and people trying to identify correct owners of a bike a better shot at sharing resources.

Lots of blogging about bike theft today:

http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/10/01/jaywork-ever-had-a-bike-stolen-youre-not-alone-heres-what-probably-happened-to-it/#comments

http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/articles/this-is-what-happens-to-your-bike-after-its-stolen-october-2014

9watts
Guest
9watts

Things to do about seats and wheels walking off:
hose clamps, thin steel cable with crimps to keep things like seats from walking off. Skip the quick releases or if that isn’t practical put a hose clamp over the lever, locking it to the nearest part of the frame.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Another good effort that couldn’t hurt:

https://project529.com

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

As we pulled up to Hollywood Fred Meyers, a guy warned us that his rear wheel had just been stolen from his locked bike. He got a ride home from the police. I assume there must be cameras on all the major entrances (this was by Electronics)

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They won’t give you camera footage unless there is an active police investigation.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’ve never understood why people lock their front wheel/frame as opposed to rear wheel/frame. Even for single speeds the rear wheels are always more expensive.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Whatever happened to removing the front wheel & u-locking it plus the frame & rear wheel to the rack? I rarely see this anymore.

For seatposts (why aren’t they “saddle posts”?), assuming that you like your current saddle height, either superglue a BB or ball bearing into into the fastener, or fill that thing in with some JB Weld, etc.. Sure, it’ll be a PITA to get out, but that’s the point, isn’t it? (I have also heard of using a BB plus heavy grease to hold it in. It’s not easy to remove the BB but a lot easier than gluing it in place.)

It might be helpful if there was a mapping app on this site where we could “pin” locations of thefts of bikes or parts (color coded?), but I know that’s fairly complicated to set up. Maybe some sponsor could step up to fund it?

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I use Shoe Goo and fill hex holes. Easy to apply, and easy to remove with the right tool. Sure a thief could take a few minutes and find a way to pick it out, but that delay is his incentive to move on to the less-secure bike. Here’s an example: http://imgur.com/a/cTdYl

Cheif
Guest
Cheif

Unless you’re running a dyno hub.. In which case you should have locking skewers anyway.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Agreed. I am, and I do. 🙂

TonyT
Guest
TonyT

One thing I’d like to see with the Stolen Bike Listing is the ability to search the listing by color and/or make. There have been plenty of times that I’ve seen a bike that I was nearly certain was stolen, and I’m searching like mad on my phone and it’s almost impossible to find anything since it’s mostly listed by date reported.

Searchability is key.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Check it out, I think you’ll like it: https://stolen.bikeindex.org/

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Hi Tony,

We actually solved this, and a number of other problems with the listings. If you want to drop me a line bryan at bikeindex dot org I can explain further, or you can wait for the rollout and see what we have.

I’m posting in a moment on some other tools and tricks, but I’m excited about the things we’re about to unveil – including some of the ideas re: theft type and lock compromise etc – even if they took a long time to sort out. But I’d love it if you dropped me an email and said Hi, I can show you some things easier via email than here.

-Bryan
-BikeIndex.org

Colton
Guest
Colton

Just yesterday I drove my son to school because we wouldn’t be able to retrieve his bike until after 9:00. It’s widely known that you can’t leave your bike much past the early evening at this location so we drove. So sad it has come to this but it seems to be the case in many places now.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Bike theft isn’t like automobile safety where it at least gets a little bit of attention after someone “important” (how do you feel knowing you’re not important enough?) is severely injured or killed.

What has to happen to whom in the realm of bike part theft for the issue to be recognized as real and important?
Does some unlucky schmuck have to get killed?
Maybe if the current year Tour de France team comes to Portland and have all their bikes ganked at once… would that do it?

It is obvious that this isn’t really treated as a crime or it would be regularly prosecuted. Bike and part theft is a non-crime, a zero consequence crime, such that it functionally seems legally condoned by authority.

Hazel
Guest
Hazel

I worked at a shop for six years and can’t tell you how many people came in or called about saddle/seat post theft and wheels are a give when there are quick releases involved. These are what I have on my commuter bike: https://www.pinheadlocks.com/store/en/
I like not having to worry if I want to go to the movies or a concert. You can also ordered extra sets that work with the same key so you can run them on multiple bikes.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Those are very cool! On my previous bike I used a rudimentary but similar concept on the seat post: simple trailer lock through the frame and seatpost (e.g. http://amzn.com/B0000AZ7WJ ). Just got the seat height set, drilled a small hole through the frame and seat post, and locked this on. Once on, only the fat ends are exposed, not the 1/4″ bar. Sure, it’s a permanent hole, but if the need to change the height arose it’s still fairly easy to do. (Just another small hole in the seat post). Obviously for a steel frame subject to rust it’s probably not a great idea.

Edwards
Guest
Edwards

I am curious about the circumstance of each stolen bike? specifically are they using U-locks, chains or cable locks?
Its been my experience that I can leave a bike anywhere for extended periods with a 2 U-lock system by locking front wheel to frame and (second U-lock) back wheel to frame and either U-lock to a bike post (parking)

Are people getting their bikes/wheels stolen while locked?

And my newest sure fire theft proofing is the badazz Abus folding lock is easy to use and can do wheel/frame to bike stand.

Justin
Guest
Justin

Just an fyi, deterrent to theft of parts was to seal a ball bearing with exterior window puddy into all the hex bolt heads on the bike for seat, seatpost, brake levers, brake calipers, stem, etc. (I use the triangle-head anti theft skewers for wheels.)

It can be removed with a screwdriver, but so far has been a good remedy.
Here is example of what I mean for the window puddy:
http://www.plumbersurplus.com/Prod/DAP-12121-33-Glazing-RTU/111631/Cat/1400?gclid=CISR6pbJjMECFQooaQod4YAADw

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I’ve filled Allen bolt heads with silicone caulk, no ball bearing. Every added bit of inconvenience for the thief “helps”. Torx bits would help too.

Trail Rat
Guest

The homeless population here is the worst I have ever seen it. I work in a bike shop downtown and we are constantly getting vandalized and theft is at an all time high.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

Following the “stolen dog attacks and kills someone’s pet story” last week I’ve finally lost the last bit of compassion I had for hobo-teens.

John Stephens
Guest
John Stephens

Awareness and extra deterrence methods are great, but to strike at the heart of the problem, we need to end the market in stolen bikes and bike parts. How can PPB and Mult. County Sherrifs help with that? Last time I looked into this, seemed bike thieves and those that deal in stolen bikes were practically operating in the open.

Angel York
Guest
Angel York

To strike at the heart of the problem, we need a guaranteed basic income for all. Most people aren’t homeless by choice, and it’s disheartening to see the lack of compassion in this thread. We can be better than this! We can show compassion!

As bicyclists, we know what it’s like to have the infrastructure rigged to be car-friendly. Enforcement is great and all, but what we really need is a support system so people don’t feel a need to steal bikes in the first place.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

The ‘open air stolen bike market’ thing is really what indicates how diligent and proactive the police department is in pursuing this problem. Here you have a group of people who literally steal bikes all day, everyday, and survive based off how many bikes they can steal, and they’re saying: ‘We do not think we have to worry about the police department in this city’ every time they have a stack of clearly stolen bikes sitting out in plain view on the esplanade, on the deck of their pirate boat that anybody taking two seconds to turn their head can see, and every time they post a poorly worded and clearly suspicious ad on craigslist.

The experts, the professionals, the people who’s entire existence is literally stealing people’s bikes are speaking– and they’re saying the PPB sucks at busting bike thieves. And boy do they suck.

Chris Anderson
Guest

I have a GPS tracker on my bike, but I’ve never had to use it. Anyone had success with these?

DJ
Guest
DJ

WHat kind of GPS Tracker, and where do you put it?

John Lascurettes
Guest

Jonathan, if you’re talking directly with PBB, could you ask why they haven’t tried a bait bike program like other cities have used with success.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I meant PPB.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Portland Bike Bureau?

Sounds like a good idea to me!

John R.
Guest
John R.

This. SF in particular seems to have an active program that is working. How do we rally to PPD to do their job, instead of once again sighing and wondering how cyclists can just take care of themselves/blame the victim?

Editz
Guest
nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

I would love to see a coordinated effort at bike shops to help educate cyclists on how to protect their investments.

One big thing they could do is discontinue the sales of cable locks. Or, barring that, provide a much more clear message to consumers about the relative lack of protection cable locks provide.

Another idea – make secure skewers available, and let the buyer know the risks of quick release hubs (or seatpost clamps) on a bike you’re planning on locking up for any period of time without properly locking both wheels.

And more instruction about how to use a lock properly would be beneficial. I see bikes locked up by just a wheel (with a QR!) or around the seatpost or stem.

jen
Guest
jen

I was incredibly frustrated after my bike was stolen and the comment I heard most often following ” (I or someone I know) recently had a bike stolen” was “well, your insurance will cover it”, as if it was all some sort of trickle down economic system.

When we did finally locate a piece of the bike, the story was “some guy bought it off some dude who was selling high end bike pieces on the street for pennies on the dollar but he had absolutely no way of knowing they could have been stolen”

I agree with John Stephens above “Awareness and extra deterrence methods are great, but to strike at the heart of the problem, we need to end the market in stolen bikes and bike parts”

TonyT
Guest
TonyT

I know that this risks getting all big brother, but I keep thinking it would be helpful if you could buy an rfid tag that could be glued deep inside the seat tube or BB shell. Then the cops could randomly set up a mobile scanner on one of the bridges or elsewhere, and get pings from stolen bikes. I do believe there is a tech solution just over the horizon.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

I’d go for that for sure. Too many of my rides have gone missing.

Dick Pilz
Guest
Dick Pilz

RFIDs need to be able to see naked air. Enclosed inside something conductive cloaks the RFIDs from the interrogating radio signal. Think Faraday Cage when you place an RFID.

JoshC
Guest
JoshC

I’v been filming the people and bikes I find under the bridge at east side esplanade. I will be posting photos daily on my twitter account in hopes that you can recognize a bike that maybe stolen.

Further more I’m posting my findings to the mayor and portland police department about the bike chop shops in the homeless camps. If your frustrated like I am at the lack of response to this problem please help me by retweeting.

https://twitter.com/JoshChernoff/status/517409431769075712
https://twitter.com/JoshChernoff/status/517410022851350528

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Just saw a nice recumbent down there. I know well that it didn’t belong to its present possessor. Also someone had like twenty wheels and tires and tubes hanging on the fence like skinned rabbits. ???

JoshC
Guest
JoshC

There was a recumbent reported stolen yesterday. We should try and see if its there still.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

Saw that a few weeks ago. I know for a fact that police regularly patrol that area, and most likely even get out and walk around semi-frequently. How in the hell is this allowed to be here if that’s the case, which i know it is? Even if i was the type of cop that just made the decision that i wasn’t going to take crimes against cyclists seriously (which, clearly, more than a few of portland’s finest have done), I’d still take this as an insult to my intelligence/savvy/general ability of awareness that this is just right in my face. The neatly hanging tubes on the fence just makes the image perfect. It’s just that ‘What are you gonna do about it, you coward? Yeah, i just took your lunch, do something about it.’ attitude.

Also saw a carbon fiber trek MTB frame in this camp last weekend, that was thrown on it’s side directly onto the concrete. And a fully intact Scott carbon fiber road bike a week or two before that.

Beth
Guest

If you ride a nice bike in a town with high theft and little to no police action, you gulp and accept the fact that you just have to let your bike get junky-looking. That is what I’ve done with mine. In the end, i may even strip the decals and headbadge and repaint with mis-matched paint to drive home the point. Because honestly, my bike is my vehicle, NOT a status symbol, and I plan to ride it a long time. (Now, if only law enforcement would treat my bicycle like a vehicle, too, perhaps we’d have diffent culture around pventing bicycle theft…)

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

Unfortunate reality. It is still inexcusable that Portland allows bike theft and fencing of stolen parts to just run rampant and nothing is really even attempted to curb it.

However, I love my nicer bikes but if locking for more than an hour or two, I don’t ride anything with any flashiness. Fortunately for me older steel frames and 8 speed mid level Shimano drive trains make cheap bikes that ride great, if locked decently don’t get stolen often, and are relatively cheap to replace. I chose the bike I ride partly based on where I am going to be locking it and for how long. An old beat up MTB, if locked, will very seldom get stolen.

gheadbarry
Guest
gheadbarry

I had my bike u-locked in a fenced in area of my back yard, last Thursday morning I walked out to my handlebars, light, and toolbag missing. Thieves went as far as removing my brake cables and friction shifter cable along with hangers, housing and anchors. They left two brand new quick release rims and tires on my girlfriends commuter. Strange they would steal the outdated setup my commuter uses, but they were crafty, not leaving a trace.
There is no reason for this, I am sure there are mechanics like me that enjoy building bicycles and have enough parts and frames to help the people that do not have the means to buy the parts/bikes they need. I am also smart enough to know a thief when I smell one and whatever the motivation, it is something we will have to stay proactive against.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Actually, I’m a former shop mechanic who tried this a few years ago: building decent bikes to give away to those who needed help after a theft. I called it “unstealing.” Good-hearted bike folks were more than willing to donate parts from their stashes, but I had a hard time placing completed bikes — because, ironically, the potential recipients likely thought my bikes were stolen!

Still, now and then I pick up a good old high-quality, pre-suspension mountain bike cheap at a garage sale or something and fix it up for commuting. Thus, closely related: I have a ’99 Trek 800 Sport, 16.5-inch, ready to sub in for someone’s stolen commuter. Message me on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Hi everybody, Bryan with StolenBicycleRegistry / BikeIndex.org) here:

I wanted to jump in and comment for a number of reasons:

First, to the person who emailed in “I just feel so defeated and vulnerable” — man, I’m right there with you. I field about 30 – 50 stolen bike listings a day, as I’m dealing with cities all over the US, and I get the same fatigue. This is why I’m channeling my work into BikeIndex, and our listings, and our work with cops, riders, BikePortland, etc. to get the kind of helpful info you describe into the hands of people who want to help us fight bike thieves. And it works! You wouldn’t believe the needles we’re pulling out of haystacks these days when it comes to bike thefts – all we need is the help from people like you. So don’t give up, please. We’ll provide the tools, you provide the intel, and we get bikes back. Let’s push back.

Second, re: transients/thieves. Sensitive topic, but it’s out of control – take a walk along the Springwater, under the Morrison/Burnside bridges on the Esplanade, under the 405/Johnson underpass, over by St. Francis park .. I could go on. You’ll see the stacks of frames and transients chopping stolen bikes in broad daylight. Even worse, we’ve got some guy
posting “cash for bikes” ads literally feet away from the homeless encampment/chop shop under the Hawthorne bridge. These are the problems we look to PPB for help with, so I look forward to hearing more about how they’re going to help tackle this problem. But the thefts are going largely unpunished – even when bikes are recovered – and something must be done about this. I don’t envy PPB for the problems they face, but this year is absolutely out of control when it comes to bike thefts,
and they’re almost always tied to other crimes involving property theft, drugs, weapons, etc. Something in this equation has to change, and we need PPB’s help.

I’ll admit, it’s a rough topic: I’m dealing with my own transient/homeless issues in my neighborhood with a rise in thefts, break-ins, car/backyard prowls, emergency calls, drug use, etc. I’ve installed multiple dropcams around my house after my own home break-in, which could be the subject of a whole other pissed-off blog post. Reading these daily report about garage break-ins, home break-ins, backyard/side yard entrance thefts, and broad-daylight thefts with pry bars and bolt cutters in broad daylight … it doesn’t help dissuade my opinion here.

All I can do is urge people to start taking their home security seriously, and to start assuming creepy thieves/dudes are going to come poking around your backyard at 4am looking for things to take. Because they are. You want proof, follow me at @stolenbikereg and track the listings in Portland and count the number that are taken from people’s houses/garages/backyards/halls/basements/car ports/front doors at 4am.

Lastly, one of the largest problems we face is a lack of serial documentation – a HUGE number of the bikes we get registered as stolen don’t have serial numbers on file, which means even if the cops catch someone with your bike, they can’t match it. This is why I partnered with BikeIndex.org, because they really nailed it with the free registration aspect and solved a lot of the crazy serial and search problems.

So: bike shops – please look into bikeindex.org to help get your customers bikes registered. Fast, free, mobile friendly – please please please do this.

Riders: PLEASE go register your bikes at bikeindex.org – it’s free, it’s fast, and we keep your info safe, won’t spam you, and exist solely to help you protect your bikes. You can check out bikeindex.org for more info.

PD’s, bike org’s, pawn shops, ANYBODY who comes into contact with lots of bikes: we have tools ready to go for you right now to register and search for stolen bikes. Drop me a line – bryan at bikeindex dot org and I’ll get in touch. So many things still under wraps, I’m sure you’ll read about there here soon 🙂

Thanks, and feel free to drop me a line if anybody has questions.

All of us > Thieves. Don’t forget that.

-Bryan Hance
-BikeIndex.org

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Trail Rat
The homeless population here is the worst I have ever seen it. I work in a bike shop downtown and we are constantly getting vandalized and theft is at an all time high.

Hey – drop me a line at bryan at bikeindex dot org when you get a moment — I’d like to talk to you about this specific thing. Thanks.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

dan
Given that there is, say, a 95% chance those bikes were stolen, is there anything that can be done when I see them on the street like that? Will the cops come for suspicion of a stolen bike? Is there a hashtag to mobilize a cyclist flash mob? Or ??

Yes. Take a photo, and tweet it to me – @stolenbikereg – I’ll take care of the rest.

dan
Guest
dan

Thanks Bryan, ummm, can I e-mail a photo? Not a Twitter user.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

sure – bryan at bikeindex dot org

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

BikeIndex is so cool! It came up with a fuzzy match on the SN but there was a pic of that bike, including its SN, and it was clearly not the same bike or SN as I have. Hmm…I wonder if there’s some way BikeIndex could to a “found” section which theft/loss victims could search?

Noted. Right now, 99% of the problem is the stolen side but this situation you describe is starting to come up more and more. If you want to drop me an email I’ll see what I can do.

A lot of the systems I’d like to talk to that have helpful info like this – i.e. PD database etc. – are still walled off. It’s an uphill battle. Right now CL and social media and things like nextdoor and nerds like me are your best bet.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

Atomic22 makes makes one-of-a-kind fasteners for every component on your bike. They also make a unique key that unlocks all of the bolts. Absolutely no way your components could be stolen. Check out the website: http://atomic22.com

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

GBP49 (US$80) for a front skewer, though.

JoshC
Guest
JoshC

I’m thinking about a group of volunteers setting up bike baits to help in aid cops with the proof they need to get the criminals off the streets. A bike, a radio transmitter and a gps/gms tracker a some walkie talkies and a few cameras. A few weeks latter maybe we can make a small dent.

Chris Anderson
Guest

Doing citizen initiated bait bikes would likely be a great way to get the PPB to pay attention. People hate it when you do their job for them, especially government agencies. But they might come down just as hard on the bike baiters as on the thieves.

JoshC
Guest
JoshC

How so? what could they say “Dont let your bike get stolen” ?

Chris Anderson
Guest

I think it’s more the part where citizens are confronting the thief that they’d dislike…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Yes, it makes them look inc0mpetent and apathetic.
It also motivates citizen efforts to reduce police department budgets because the citizens are doing their job and doing it better.

JoshC
Guest
JoshC

I dont think we need to confront anyone, I dont like the idea of putting anyone in danger. I figure all we need is to have them at the ready and let them know what we are doing. Once the bike is stolen we track them down and follow them and tell the police where to apprehend them and just be present with the evidence.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Count me in.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

we have plenty of activist groups that could do this… swarm? bikeloud?

just create a circle of activists around the area to apprehend the thief no matter how they try to get away…

Lila
Guest
Lila

Fear of bike theft has a major impact on my bike commuting. I’m lucky that I work at a place with inside parking, so I bike to work. But if I have errands to run after work, I drive to work instead of bike, solely because of possibility of bike theft during the errands.

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

This is an unfortunate symptom resulting from city leaders allowing Portland to become a haven for transients. What a shame, we are encouraged to ride our bicycles everywhere but there is no guarantee it will be there when its time to go home.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

i think that’s lazy thinking. The homeless problem is national. Actually, the homeless problem is global. There is no part of the country where there are not homeless people. And there are no parts of the first world where there isn’t a population of people attempting to get into.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I question if you’ve ever traveled anywhere else if you don’t at least concede that the homeless/transient population in Portland is above average for US cities.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Yes! It’s really time for bike stores to stop selling non-locks. Not only cable locks, but locks with inferior lock cylinders. Sure, people want cheap–but how good is a cheap lock if it won’t fulfill it’s intended purpose?

nuovorecord
I would love to see a coordinated effort at bike shops to help educate cyclists on how to protect their investments.
One big thing they could do is discontinue the sales of cable locks. Or, barring that, provide a much more clear message to consumers about the relative lack of protection cable locks provide.
Another idea – make secure skewers available, and let the buyer know the risks of quick release hubs (or seatpost clamps) on a bike you’re planning on locking up for any period of time without properly locking both wheels.
And more instruction about how to use a lock properly would be beneficial. I see bikes locked up by just a wheel (with a QR!) or around the seatpost or stem.
Recommended 2

Mike G
Guest
Mike G

Perhaps we should group-force some kind of monitoring at the metal recyclers. I understand that is a lot of that is the motivation – cash for scrap. Most bike parts have little value on the market as a bike, unless you know what your are looking for. I will put some thought to an organized contact with the recycling centers. It would only take a serial number off a frames, or some effort to post unusual or a large volume of bike parts from them to follow up on who brought them in. Recyclers can be arrested for scrapping cars without titles, but not bikes or refrigerators. I agree with riding ‘rat rods’ with no appeal too, but with police as busy as they are, it needs an outside effort for everyone.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Yep, had my Brooks and seat post stolen in the middle of the night while locked in the stairwell at my apartment near SE 20th and Taylor. Not quick release. Apartment manager didn’t seem to care that there was theft going on on the property, just an obvious remark about how it wouldn’t have happened if I had put my bike in my apartment.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Anyone missing a smaller (52-54 cm?) Bianchi road bike with a Winwood carbon fork? (It’s not listed on the stolen bikes database.) It’s been chained up down along the Springwater trail (between Sellwood and Omsi) for the last few days.

Cory Poole
Guest

I like the bait bike idea. This wont get better until the Police start taking bike theft seriously. Everyone make sure you have your bike serial #’s written down. Also I would love to see a social media thread perhaps twitter and facebook where pictures and info on stolen bikes can get out quickly.

kyle
Guest
kyle

This right here is a big part of the portland problem. All the fine bikefastructure we can dream up will not change the fact that creeps make even your otherwise ‘strong and fearless’ leave the bike. Will someone be standing in my path? Who will materialize when I get a flat? Why is that guy watching me take my bike in? Will my bike be there/be whole when I come out and, if not, what do my options look like? It adds up fast, the Menacing Crackhead list. Especially as the numbers and encounters grow and grow.

Of course the problems are systemic, etc. My liberal guilt bleeds a constant seep. Meanwhile, so does our time to live.

Edwards
Guest
Edwards

I am seeing a theme developing here; asking Pawn shops, or used bicycle dealers, or recycling centers and scrap metal businesses to start questioning their customers and checking what they are buying against a list of stolen bikes or parts… just won’t work.
It may work on a smallish community level but city wide we’re just asking to much, they would almost immediately lose business and money. yes they are part (a big part in many cases) of the problem but you can’t expect them to change unless they truly believe in this cause.

The best answer is to put a lot of pressure on city leaders, police and advocates to stop the theft on the front lines.

– city leaders and Police can very easily mandate a city ordinance stating any homeless, transient or persons storing or parting out bike parts in public areas, can be arrested or cited based on the stolen property and chop shop laws or there are a number of public space laws to cite!

– Prevention from the bike owner, we have to stop being lazy and using inferior locking mechanisms like little cable locks and make it almost impossible for thieves to get the bikes and wheels. USE U-locks! and be diligent about all the bolts and QRs and replace with key systems (there are multiple companies on the market with keyed systems) ask your LBS.

– change how the shops sell bikes (i.e. with locking skewers, and all the bolts instead of QR parts)
-community’s coming together and actively participating in the good ole fashion “community watch” program and focus specifically on theft of bikes and prowling.

– last but most important is we all have to put pressure on city leaders and community leaders to do something about it and make the PD’s start enforcing many of the laws that are already in place to prevent theft on public streets! Write your mayor, governor and congressman! it works!

Jonathan Maus and Brian Hance at Bikeindex – offer a standard form that everyone can download, sign and send to their city and state leaders to lobby for change and to put pressure on PD! Its the one thing snail mail is still really good for.

Cheif
Guest
Cheif

Personally I don’t even like to visit portland because of this. The last time I rode down to your little town I couldn’t visit anywhere because it was obviously unacceptable to leave anything other than a $50 schwinn out on the street. Some bum dressed as a pirate even approached me and threatened to steal my gear if I left it locked up somewhere. Despite my ulock and pitlock skewers on everything. I tour everywhere, but portland won’t be seeing any of my money any time soon.

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

Can’t say I blame you. I suppose I should look for a $50 Schwinn because many times I would like to just throw a leg over a bike and ride there, but don’t feel like finding my bike stripped or gone when I come out. It’s great to live in America’s Bike Capital.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Chief, I think the problem is being overstated here. If you’re just visiting Portland (i.e., not leaving a bike locked up overnight downtown) you should be safe with a U-lock and Pitlocks. Other than downtown and maybe a few other public places at night, I’m not hearing of U-locks being defeated.

Charles Ross
Guest
Charles Ross

I have the serial number of my bike listed on my cell phone as a name

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

I also have my SN#s for my frequent riders in my phone, along with recent pictures. Even for my “Bar Bikes.” I never want to be in a situation where I find my stolen bike (in process or very soon after theft) and I can’t easily prove to a cop or bystander that it IS my bike and I don’t always look like the most clean cut guy on the street myself.

Adam
Guest
Adam

THE most frustrating thing about your Stolen Bike Listings, is that it does not have a mandatory field, requiring the person making the listing to state HOW the bike was locked up. I would like to see checkboxes added that are mandatory, stating:

Was your bike –

* Unlocked
* Locked with cable lock
* Locked with u-lock

Was your bike locked to –
* Staple rack
*Other bike rack
* Pole
* Other

Was your bike locked by the –
* Frame only
* Frame and wheel
* Other

It is difficult to know the best way to lock up your bike, when there is no data out there, telling you the best way to lock up your bike.

Come on BikePortland. Get it together!!

Cory Poole
Guest

Ok Idea #2! A site where you can pre register your bike, Upload pictures info etc. Then if your bike gets stolen you can log in and instantly get photos and info out there through social media.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

so, ah, that’s literally what http://www.bikeindex.org is

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I’m seriously considering branding my name into my brooks saddle…I just can’t see too many people actually buying a saddle like that

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

just etch in “Stolen from Jeff @ 503-555-1212″…

ed
Guest
ed

I always hesitate whenever the topic comes up (and it does a lot) because I suppose I could be accused of self interest in my response. I work for a folding bike brand.

There’s a really easy fix for the vast majority of the tales of woe that always accompany this agonizing area. If it folds quickly and compactly enough and can be towed along behind like roller luggage, if it sacrifices very little in ride quality and efficiency to a non-folder – you have your solution. Under the table in restaurant or desk at work, next to stool in pub, under screen at theater, behind door at friends house etc. AND it’s not sitting out in weather or subject to vandalism/petty pilfering and lifts the ever present anxiety we all feel when we leave a bike parked somewhere vulnerable. Wanna put a nice Brooks on your commuter bike? Better think twice; even if not stolen it must endure PDX winters. Give your lock away to someone who still needs it!

Much prejudice and misconceptions about small wheels, even among “well informed” cyclists. I know, I’m proposing a consumer based solution, I’m discriminating against those w/o a budget for one and a myriad of other objections that no doubt can be conjured. But the fact remains it’s such a simple, elegant and when you think about it, obvious solution (as well as opening world up for travel by train, air, donkey 😉 that given the grief caused by the kinds of theft most of us have experienced it needs to be said.

Listening to a recent bike radio talk show about theft and travel where every aspect was covered exhaustively except the most obvious solution, I felt it should at least be on the table. In much of the world where citizen cycling is done by millions you will see folders everywhere, yet this is mostly still below the radar in the US. Think we’re missing something?

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

I don’t own a folder, but would like to and hope to, but really don’t “need” on at this time. I think you are absolutely right. Part of the problem is that bikes and bike parts (especially nice parts on nice bikes) are valuable enough, common enough, and portable enough to be easily traded for drugs or cash, and easily carried or transported. Yet, (conventionally) a whole bike is too big to carry in a purse or easily secured the way even a large instrument like a guitar or saxophone would be.

One obvious solution is to have a bike that fold and can be taken along wherever you go. This has other practical benefits like taking trains or buses too.

We need to think of bikes as being something akin to musical instruments or jewelry, not akin to cars when it comes to theft. Like musical instruments, whole bikes are valuable, portable, and too big to carry in your pocket or bag. Like jewelry, bike PARTS are small enough to fit in a purse or back pack. So bikes are somewhat in between those two. In terms of value, bikes are probably easier to fence than instruments, not as potentially high value as jewelry but easier to trade for drugs.

A nice bike might be equipped with pedals that sell for $80, a rear derailleur that retails for $100, handlebar and brifters that total $300 retail value. All of which are secured by a few simple bolts. There really isn’t anything comparable that we would leave out on the street so minimally secured and expect a small industry of theft not to spring up and target the goods.

I don’t want to discount enforcement and the police. It is ridiculous that this is allowed to go on with nearly no effort to curb the theft.

There are a few good solutions.
1) Buy a practical bike for utility riding in town that isn’t too valuable (to you) to lose and easier to lock up. Consider options that reduce the number and value of easily stolen parts. Internally geared hubs are one thought.
2) Find / have / create places to store bikes that are monitored and secured. The valet parking at the South Waterfront is one example. Unfortunately that won’t ever be available widely. But at least bike lockers with some security cams and observation by employees would be better than what we have.
3) Take your bike with you, don’t leave it unattended. This is really practical if your bike folds up small enough to carry in a small suit case – like a musical instrument.
4) Very valuable bikes need to be treated like a valuable instrument or piece of Jewelry you can’t just leave it where it can be easily stolen because it will be stolen.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I have a folding bike myself, but I sure as heck wouldn’t have to drag it around with me into every store, pub, restaurant, etc. Especially in the winter when it gets all grimy. I know folder owners who do that, but I can’t relate to it. I lock mine outside just like I do with my full sized bikes.

ed
Guest
ed

Have to wonder why bother to own it then. “Dragging it” is odd wording for bringing it into a building just as you would a backpack or messenger bag; do you leave those out on the curb as well? And wet tires are no different from wet feet. (actually not as bad) If the bike is right the fold takes less time than locking a bike and no more space than a backpack. When I go into a store I just put it near or behind the counter or some unobtrusive corner where it sits till I leave. Or under grocery cart! Never ever a problem. I’m mystified at what you are getting at behind simply not being used to it. Of course some folders don’t roll along folded or fold small or easily – might be issue of proper tool selection.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“When I go into a store I just put it near or behind the counter or some unobtrusive corner where it sits till I leave”

what do you lock it to while it’s sitting there? I’d never leave a folded bike sitting somewhere unlocked that I couldn’t see it at all times… I’d expect it to be stolen…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Yeah, I know some folder owners swear by bringing their bikes into a store. For a Brompton I can kind of see it, because they do actually fold down to about the size of a (VERY heavy) backpack and can sort of roll on mini-wheels when folded, and IIRC can even stand up when folded. But I don’t think you can argue that the fold is quicker than a proper U + cable lockup, which takes only a few seconds.

And for any folder other than a Brompton, it’s not even close. All the other folding bikes I’ve seen (Bike Fridays, Dahons, my own Swift) are a LOT heavier and more awkward to carry around than a backpack or messenger bag. Besides weighing 20+ pounds, they’re quite a bit larger than a typical backpack and have metal bits sticking out and front wheels flopping around that can catch on things. Many of them are also pretty awkward to roll around while folded, if it can be done at all. I’m also not getting a pretty picture trying to imagine putting one of these on the bottom rack of a shopping cart, as you suggest.

And while wet, dirty tires may not be any worse than feet, the WHOLE BIKE gets wet and dirty if you actually ride in the rain. So maybe I’m a princess for not wanting to have filthy hands in the store. Both of which I like to have available for shopping, not having one busy steering or carrying a big chunk of metal around.

So if I can’t take advantage of what you see as the main advantage of folding bikes – being able to bring one into a store (?!) – what is the point, you ask? Well, are the following enough reasons for you? They are for me, and as someone who works for a folding bike brand you might want to familiarize yourself with these selling points of folding bikes. I’ve taken advantage of all of these except #4, which I hope to do soon.
1. Easier to get on the MAX train.
2. Easier to stuff in a car trunk without needing an external rack to carry it.
3. Possible to get it on and off Amtrak at their many stations that don’t offer baggage service.
4. Possible to stuff in a suitcase and take on an airplane without $200 fees.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

I think we all know where the problems are. Ride by the waterfront, 12th and stark or near the Springwater to Sellwood and we see encampments with literally piles of bike parts.

The police just need to start confiscating and requiring them to provide proof of ownership to recover. I suspect that there are also a ton of outstanding warrents that can be addressed. Unfortunatley there is not any money in this for them. So until a citizen gets killed or they are shamed into action, their effors are going to be directed at profit genrating events like traffic enforcement, drug seizures or citations.

With this said, there should be an element of mild community action against these know zones of bike theft. How about a critical mass to roll to these known places and “recover” what has been stolen? Maybe a group of hundred outside of the local police office long enough to get the vid for the evening news. Only then would the police have to step up and do their job. We also need to support them when there is the inevitable calls to end harassment of the homeless.

If that doesn’t work, it is starting to rain and alot of them go somewhere else.

groovin101
Guest
groovin101

I like the idea of having the police doing some bait stings, but maybe they just need some inspiration? Picture this:

A cherry red beauty, wheels gleaming, sits vulnerable with nothing but a chain lock. Along walks an opportunist, sees their chance, and easily snaps the flimsy lock. Bam, 10 bicyclists with bullhorns come popping out of the bushes and swarm the perp from all sides, containing the thief until the cops show up. Enough incidents like that and word’d spread fast.

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

Putting the word “parts” in all caps will get a comment sent to moderation…. just so you all know that.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Honestly….reading all this has me moderately freaked out about moving to Portland (and I don’t live in a crime free Nirvana now by any means – Phoenix). Bike theft here is mostly constant around ASU but property crime/burglaries have always been an issue. We live in a pretty decent area but have a monitored alarm, fully sensor-ed, cellular, glass breaks and a few Dropcams. Looks like I should take all of this and more with me to Portland.

My Skylock should be here by the time I end up in Portland but i’m now worried it will just turn into two chunks of metal with a solar panel on some Portland street.

To my first point I would think city and government leaders would be perking up to do something when people start thinking “errrrr…..maybe I won’t move to Portland” because of crime (particularly this bike and property crime). I am moving to Portland for many reason, one being like-minded people and lifestyle and no place is perfect but I don’t have a great feeling today. Living on constant alert and on guard is no way to live – I think we can all agree on that, quality of life gets zapped fairly quickly.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Honestly Alex, I don’t think Portland is different than most small or midsized American cities when it comes to bike theft. If it’s worse here it’s only incrementally so, and if it’s getting worse than it used to be it’s only doing so incrementally. And we’re still nothing like New York City when it comes to theft risk.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a problem. And with more people biking here, it might be a bigger problem in terms of volume. But it’s a problem everywhere. And it always has been. We’re just trying to get more visibility and action on it.

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

You’ve cracked the code. All this natter about stolen bikes is actually population control.
Solid axles, people. Strangely, thieves have not yet discovered the 15 mm wrench. And after dark, like somebody said, U-lock # 2 is not a bad idea.
If somebody took your Brooks saddle perhaps they were just trying to help.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Here’s a crowd sourcing idea:

Most people who find their stolen bikes for sale on Craigslist can’t get much PD help when it comes to meeting with the seller.

I’d love to crowd source a bunch of folks willing to act as ride-along backup and/or background meeting people when bike theft victims are doing these kind of risky and sketchy meetups with guys who more than likely have their stolen bikes.

This scenario comes up again and again and again and it drives me absolutely nuts.

gheadbarry
Guest
gheadbarry

I feel the amount of bikes here and the passion that goes along with that plays a huge role in an outsiders view of bike culture in our city. Yes there is theft, and yes it is less than other major metro areas, it may be on par with similar sized cities. Our passion for the bicycle and the infrastructure that it supports (or supports it) makes it a visible problem.
We can all help our fellow cyclist learn to lock proper, ride on the correct side of the road and have confidence when stuck in a hairy situation. The problem here is the other guy…the addict, the thief, the young kid who hasn’t learned…we can bait bikes and call cops and intimidate the culprit but in the long run it is respect. Respect for another human, respect for their belongings, respect for the choices they make, and finally respect for themselves that will lower this type of crime and hopefully help our current population actually care about more than greed and instant gratification.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Angel York
To strike at the heart of the problem, we need a guaranteed basic income for all. Most people aren’t homeless by choice, and it’s disheartening to see the lack of compassion in this thread. We can be better than this! We can show compassion!
As bicyclists, we know what it’s like to have the infrastructure rigged to be car-friendly. Enforcement is great and all, but what we really need is a support system so people don’t feel a need to steal bikes in the first place.
Recommended 1

I’m intrigued- how would we go about providing a “guaranteed basic income for all”? How would ‘basic’ be defined?

Chris Anderson
Guest

There is a short but semi-rigorous book about the topic, called “What’s Wrong with a Free Lunch”, that I found to be a worthy introduction. Aldo plenty of stuff online. You probably want to search for universal basic income.