Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on October 31st, 2014 at 3:26 pm
It’s one of the maddening paradoxes of the bike world: biking is so cheap and efficient that it’s a blip on almost every chart.
Biking infrastructure is so easy to build that there’s no army of contractors to lobby for it. Biking education is difficult because it’s so easy to just buy a bike and start riding. And bike theft doesn’t get penalized because a bike can be the most important object in someone’s life even though it’s only worth $50.
Reader Todd Hudson captured an aspect of this problem in a comment beneath this week’s post about a Portland cop who’s leading the fight against bike theft from the front lines.
I used to blame PPB for the high prevalence of bike theft, but learned Multnomah County (under whom are prosecutors, criminal courts, and MCDC) is really the weak link.
Remember Robert Charles Dady? *After* he was featured here a year ago, he’s earned another 28 CHARGES related to theft (assuming I’m reading PDX mugshots correctly), including felony theft. His name is a rash all over the DA’s website. Why is he not locked up after dozens of arrests? Some people cannot be rehabilitated and need to be isolated from society.
Since MCDC is overcrowded, non-violent offenders matrix out ridiculously fast, and go straight back to car/yard prowls and bike theft. Their sentences are minimal or they once again immediately matrix out of jail. Cops only affect them incidence of getting caught, and the County affects the actual punishment for getting caught. With no real punishment, getting caught doesn’t matter much in a thief’s calculus of whether to go back stealing stuff – it’s not helpful that a thief gets taken to MCDC and is back on the street before that cop’s shift is over.
tl;dr – we could bust every bike thief in the county, but they go through a revolving door back to the street and start stealing again. This is because Multnomah County does not make property crime a high priority.
Todd’s was the first of several comments on the theme of how courts’ handling of bike theft could be changed. If you’re interested in this issue, don’t miss the conversation between Daniel L and Edward about whether bicycle thefts should actually trigger Oregon’s felony charges against vehicle theft. That’s an issue that seems ripe for more reporting. Stay tuned.