Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Raising the profile of Portland’s bike theft problem

Posted by on October 17th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

cityhallmeeting-gordly

Putting bike theft on their radar.
(Photo: City of Portland)

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

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

Almost 6,000 stolen bikes later, our listings have become a key part of the local fight against thieves.

Unfortunately our listings have been down since July. That’s because Portland resident and stolen bike superhero Bryan Hance of BikeIndex.org (formerly StolenBicycleRegistry.com), has been working on a complete revamp that will sync all our data with BikeIndex and add new, powerful features that will make it easier than ever to recover stolen bikes. We hope to re-launch our listings in the next few weeks.

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But recovery sucks, because that means the thieves already won half the battle (by nabbing your bike in the first place). Our goal should be to prevent theft from happening in the first place. We’ve done some work on that front in the past by partnering up with the Portland Police and Transportation bureaus to create educational materials and online resources aimed at spreading theft prevention tips.

Now, with the bike theft problem at what feels like an all-time high, we are once again working to raise the profile of bike theft by working with our city partners.

Earlier this month, I was honored to be invited to a meeting at City Hall to sit down with Mayor Charlie Hales and incoming Police Chief Larry O’Dea. I had no idea what to expect. I showed up as a community advocate, not as a journalist. When I got there I was in awe of the people who joined us around the big wooden table in the august Rose Room: leaders of major social justice, equity, and racial equality advocacy groups. It wasn’t the crowd I was used to sitting with at City Hall. I felt a bit out of place, but figured if the Mayor’s office wanted me to be there, they had a good reason.

I spent most of the meeting just listening and learning. When I did get a chance to speak, I urged (current) Assistant Chief O’Dea to prioritize three things: Get more officers on the bicycle patrol unit (which would be a huge boost to community policing efforts many people around the table were clamoring for); take a closer look at the proliferation of people living in camps along multi-use paths like the Springwater Corridor; and take the problem of bike theft much more seriously.

I’m confident Asst. Chief O’Dea heard my concerns and I’m looking forward to following up with him on all fronts once he settles into office in January.

In the meantime, Bryan is working hard to re-launch our new-and-improved Stolen Bike Listings, and I’ve got another meeting with the Portland Police Bureau next week. I’m getting together with Central Precinct to hear what they’ve been working on and what additional steps we might take to turn the tables on the thieves.

Stay tuned.

— Read all our bike theft coverage here.

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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EricKeith Collandongroovin101redhippieTodd Hudson Recent comment authors
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Indy
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Indy

Craigslist and E-bay, etc. mandatory serial number input for bike sale listings would be a good start.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Wouldn’t that make it easy for someone to report it stolen, or put into the stolenbike registry and prevent me from selling my own bike?

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I guess the idea is that serial numbers would not displayed to the public, but it does seem to have some drawbacks. For example, what’s the motivation for a crooked seller to enter the real serial?

But Craigslist in particular has some other shortcomings when it comes to inhibiting illegal activity:

“Whereas eBay and Facebook feature “back doors” for law enforcement to track suspected thefts, Hance says, Craigslist’s tiny San Francisco staff relies on users to flag illegal or inappropriate posts. But read the fine print: Craigslist’s terms of use stipulate that when it comes to site moderation, the company has 100 percent authority and 0 percent responsibility, making it difficult for aboveboard users to organize against illicit sellers. “The minute you start pointing out that they’ve got stolen goods, you’ve violated their terms of service and they’ll send you a cease and desist,” Hance says. The terms also nix bots that can comb the site for postings whose descriptions match stolen goods, as part of a larger strategy by the for-profit company to prevent competitors from using its data.”

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

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Wish i’d a thought of that xlnt idea!

groovin101
Guest
groovin101
Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Just wanted to jump in and add that bike theft victims can till list stolen bikes in the interim via the stolen.bikeindex.org link on BikePortland’s “Stolen Bikes” page.

This will get them listed in the BikePortland listings when we go live, and into the same system for Portland police in-car terminal access as well. (along with @isitstolen twitterbot etc.)

Sorry again for the huge delay – just a lot of moving parts to sort out with the new site infrastructure.

-Bryan Hance
-BikeIndex.org

J_R
Guest
J_R

What about busting the chop shop/homeless camps?

What about a new ordinance as suggested in this forum a few weeks ago to prohibit massive collections of bikes and parts in public spaces?

What about tagged target bikes watched by the police or volunteers with pre-arranged police back-up?

Sounds like you were duped into being a “bike advocate” in a room full of people worried about equity and justice for the downtrodden.

I’m not seeing any progress.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Since the City of Portland has taken the initiative on banning plastic bags…how about another retail based (bike friendly) initiative to ban coil bike locks. This could be a complete ban or below a set security level of lock.

[And I know there are other non-bike uses of a coil lock…so perhaps it is just a transportation focus…and banning their sale at bike shops (IBDs) and at big box retailers bike sections.]

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The logic is that by stores stocking them in their bike lock section, many consumers are getting the impression that these locks are effective bike theft deterrent when used by themselves.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

yes this is a tricky issue. I self imposed voluntary “homelessness” upon myself on 5 february 2014. I had 10’s of thousands in savings with absolutely zero debt. Having lived 56 years in what is generally regarded by the brainwashed mass as auspicious circumstances experiencing society from top down, I decided to finally experience society from the bottom looking up.

The attitudes of most of society towards those living “outside the box” are a mix of fear driven brainwashing, a lot of downright jealousy sprinkled with a bit of compassion at times. In the box people are terrified at the slightest possibility of living as a wild free range human to say the least.

Just read some of these comments with an open heart if possible and this is clear.

I travelled the west coast visiting a diverse range of places with varying levels of tolerance. The same deeply rooted attitudes infect every sub-type of society I visited. This disease is far more dangerous than any viral infection and needs to be acknoledged for whatnit is.

First of all lets clear something up right away. HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS! Sorry for shouting but that still wasn’t loud enough to reach an audience under the influence of greenwashed sanctimonious denial. YUP you.

The fire in Weed Cali was immediately attributed to “homeless” in the gossip that flew as it burned, I was there. In fact most social annoyances are immediately blamed on vagrants etc. . . Do a gut check on it.

I realize that yes, desperate humans addicted to whatever will do what it takes to satisfy their needs whether physical or not. That said, I’ve also met some of the most enlightened souls in my experience who choose to live free of contributing to a destructive monstrous society in my travels.

Not all or even a majority of bicycle thieves are what the ignorant label as homeless. Remember your true home and for godz sake enjoy your weekend before you force yourself back into your collar, the one you claim to love so much when you spew your lies. I’ve totally redefined what I consider “auspicious” circumstances through actually LIVING for a change and suggest the same for anyone who really wants to do some boots on the ground inner growth. . .

Me, I’m off to southern Nevada to go work AND play in the sun as I deserve. With a whole new set of clear eyes.

RAIN WATERS

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

What would be really great would be for the revamped listings to allow entry of details like time of day that bike was locked, time of day theft was discovered, address of theft location, how the bike was locked through frame & rear wheel + front wheel vs frame only), what type of lock(s) was used, what it was locked to, any other anti-theft methods in use (special QR skewers, seatpost bolt type for saddle thefts, etc) so that some useful data could be compiled. It would make for interesting statistics that might also convince people to not use coil locks, etc..

Jesse Millan
Guest
Jesse Millan

After much deliberation, City Hall officials advise Portland Police to respond to the increases in bike thefts by conducting another bicycle sting in Ladd’s Addition.

They logically concluded that if there were no more bicyclists, there would be no more bike thefts.

David Lewis
Guest

Bike theft is the intersection of imagined value and inflated sense of security. Either one of these false prefixes can be defeated though industrial ingenuity, in America. The Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers of bicycles and locks both profit from the initial offering and continued replacement of bicycles and locks, which they don’t really differentiate between as exports.

The thieves are only part of a much larger socio-economic and global-industrial complex. By holding a hearing dedicated to them, you are only fooling yourself and the recreational cyclists who routinely provide the feeder stock for the controversy.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Wow! I think anti-societal actions by corporations are responsible for a range of large problems, but I’m not ready to include bike theft. Thankfully, Kryptonite hasn’t acquired an effective monopoly on lock sales, so if someone’s Kryptonite lock is defeated, they’re likely to buy an OnGuard, Abus, or other brand of lock. Seems to me like there’s still an incentive for bike lock manufacturers to produce good locks.

Keith Collandon
Guest
Keith Collandon

Alex, I agree there is a need for the lock makers to produce better locks, but the locks, chains and cables suppliers are the people least interested in overcoming bike theft, they are happy to have a corner on the market and continuing sales revenue. There are numerous videos on YouTube showing how to quickly remove their products to steal a bike, yet there products alter very little.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

You’re funny.

Oh
Guest
Oh

Let’s try some enforcement before Portland becomes San Francisco. Why should we have to spend a lot of $ on special skewers, etc when there has been no attempt at enforcement and prosecution. This ‘tolerant’ attitude is exacerbating the problem, imo. Please, please, please will someone do something other than talk about socio economic issues!? This problem is out of hand.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Bait bikes, bait bikes, bait bikes. Why is this not an option for PPD?

Brian
Guest
Brian

This example *might* be a little over the top. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xi6XtthI2F0

Dave
Guest
Dave

And, please, bike mechanics write down serial numbers on tickets of bikes you’re working on–it just might help someone who gets the bike stolen and doesn’t have a serial # written down anywhere else.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“I urged (current) Assistant Chief O’Dea to…take the problem of bike theft much more seriously.”

Again, the real issue with preventing bicycle theft lies with Multnomah County judicial system.

Cops can only affect the incidence of getting caught. DAs and judges not taking property theft seriously, and the fact that thieves matrix out of MCDC ridiculously fast is why bicycle theft prevalence is so high and will continue to be high.

Ask any PPB cop whether they’ve hooked some bike thief or car prowler, taken them to MCDC, only to see that same societal stain on the street again later during their shift. The answer will disgust you.

Until we start handing out heavy jail sentences to thieves and making them serve them entirely, bike theft prevalence will continue to be ridiculously high. PPB can arrest every single bike thief but it wouldn’t matter much because they face few consequences.

Dave
Guest
Dave

And, shop owners and managers, don’t harass mechanics for taking the extra 120 seconds to find and write down that serial number!

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

Nice. I really appreciate that you started to raise the issue of homeless encampments on the city’s greenways.

These are turning from corridors for travel and recreation to the nexus points of crime. If something goes missing in my neighborhood (st johns) you go look along the bike path along the cut or along the waterfront in the metro green space. We spend a tremendous amount of resources to acquire and maintain these open spaces only to have them turn into eyesores and havens for crime. n that next green space ballot initiative, i’ll be voting “no”.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Register your serials with the manufacturer and every Registry website out there.
Then piece together a spay-painted clunker for your commuter bike (which you will lock up of course) and leave the Chris King wheelset at home on the locked up and secured-out-of-site race bike.

If you ride your high-dollar bike (which hopefully you do), don’t ever get off of it until you are back home.

Seriously, how hard is that?

It is YOUR responsibility to protect YOUR bike!

SIDE BAR: I do like the comments on here about mechanics recording serial numbers.
It would be great if bike service records were electronic and could be searched. Many bikes that we as enthusiasts ride are on par price-wise with a good used car. Record keeping could and should be on par. Is there no good electronic service software for bicycle shops?
I remember having my $3,300 mountain bike (that bought new from River City Bikes years ago) serviced several times in the first year with them for warranty issues. After the 4th or so service I asked if they could pull the service records so I could go to Specialized and voice my issues. River City looked at me dumbfounded and said they didnt keep service records, and the hand written (good luck reading them) tickets might be in the owners attic at his house….? WTF? No record of the all the warranty work you guys performed? I was extremely surprised.

Anyways, register your serial(s) and protect your pride and joy accordingly. Don’t expect the government to do anything for you.

Keith Collandon
Guest
Keith Collandon

So Eric…everyone needs to own TWO bikes, can’t ride an acceptable bike to commute, must never get off a bike with any value to it, has to endure the time and costs of registering their bike with every rego site,etc.

THIS is a solution????

Eric
Guest
Eric

Yes, this IS a solution. Why is that hard? Its free to register and takes only a few minutes.
It’s your choice how many bikes to own. My point is Don’t commute on your bling. Keep it functional and dirty and something you can shrug off if it gets lifted or stripped (or more likely, nailed by a car).
Don’t expect the government to give two SH*TS about your little bike.

Be active in your own protection!

Bikeindex.org is a good place to start.