Gravel - Cycle Oregon

How I stole my bike back

Posted by on November 4th, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Stole my bike back!-1

Found it! (Can you tell I was a bit nervous at that moment?)

It’s back! I found my bike and am happy to report it’s right here next to me in my office.

Let’s rewind…

This morning I did something really dumb. I left my bike unlocked and unattended on SW 4th Avenue for several hours. And, not surprisingly, it was stolen. OK, now that I shared that very embarrassing fact, here’s what’s happened since…

After trying to catch my breath and calling Juli sobbing like a little baby at my luck and stupidity, here’s what I did:

I spread the word as far and wide as I could. Facebook, Twitter, and here on the Front Page. I also made a listing on the Bike Index. Thanks to many kind people, the word got out quickly and I felt pretty hopeful that it would turn up. I’ve written about many recoveries over the years and I know that hustling and spreading the word is the best way to get bikes back. I also had a lot going for me in that the bike is very distinctive (one-of-a-kind), I know a lot of people in this town, and I have a fair bit of good stolen bike karma working in my favor.

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After I got the online communication work rolling, I got on my bike and went out to see if I could find it. At first, I did a quick loop through Waterfront Park and found nothing. I was still in such shock and felt too sick at what had happened that I really didn’t feel like riding around. So I went back to the office to fan the online flame and see if any leads had turned up.

Then about one hour later, I rolled out again for a longer loop to see check the eastside. This time I took my camera and was feeling more determined about the search. I headed straight for the start of SE Salmon under the I-5 freeway at the northeast corner of the parking lot at the Hawthorne Bridge. I knew this was a common spot to see people living among lots of bikes and bike parts. It was bustling with activity but I didn’t see my Cielo. So I continued north on the Esplanade.

Then I realized that if I was a good bicycle thief I would not have a freshly stolen bike out in the open. I would stash it for a while. So, as I rode I started looking to my right into the bushes and under the freeway. Eventually I was down on the floating portion of the Esplanade ramps, just north of the Burnside Bridge, and lo and behold I saw a white road bike resting on some rocks underneath I-5!!! I could not believe it.

This photo was taken while looking east from the floating Esplanade path after I retrieved the bike.

I stopped to take a closer look but it was dark under the freeway and my eyes are not that great. I needed to get over there. I thought about snapping a photo but didn’t want to attract any attention to myself out of fear that someone would grab the bike and run before I could get to it.

I wasn’t sure how to get across the water and onto the rocks, so I headed north hoping for some access. Sure enough, right at the top of the ramps there was a big cut in the chain-link fence. So, I carried my city bike up the embankment and onto the Union Pacific property ODOT property.

Stole my bike back!-5

A break in the fencing just north of the floating ramps.

It was muddy and rocky and I had no idea what I would encounter under the freeway, but I had to get closer to that bike. Fortunately there were only a few tents around. As I walked over puddles, trash, and sharp rocks I eventually came upon the bike I’d seen from the Esplanade. Sure enough, it was mine. Bastards! I locked up my city bike and walked down to the Cielo to grab it. There was still no one around, except for two people in a tent about 50 feet away.

Stole my bike back!-2

On private railroad property looking toward the Willamette. The bike was stashed just on the other side of those tents.

As I walked closer I could not believe my eyes. There it was, all alone just waiting for me to grab it…

Stole my bike back!-4

The whole time I was nervous and worried that something would go wrong. I just wanted my bike and I wanted to get out of there before things got complicated.

As I grabbed my bike and started to leave, three kids walked up. They had big backpacks and looked as if they lived under the freeway. I told them what happened. They said they knew nothing about it. I snapped a few more photos of the area, made my way back to the Esplanade, and that was that.

Stole my bike back!-6

Part of the encampment where I found my bike.
Stole my bike back!-7

Duct tape residue over the distinguishing logo on top tube.
Stole my bike back!-8

In perfect shape — minus a good set of lights, a frame pump, tool roll, and my GPS unit.

On my way back south on the Esplanade (now ghost riding a bike), I rolled by those encampments at SE Salmon again. I thought it was very telling how many heads popped up and out of tents to stare at me now that I was carrying another bike — because the previous time I rolled through, no one noticed me at all. I started a conversation with two people who were disassembling a Raleigh singlespeed. (Keep in mind there are parts and bike frames everywhere.) I asked if this was some kind of bike shop. One woman was very interested in me. As if she thought I might be there to sell her the bike I was carrying. “You want to drop something off?” she asked.

I have always given these encampments the benefit of the doubt in terms of whether or not they were trafficking in stolen bikes. But after my conversation and experience today, that’s no longer the case. I am convinced there are active bicycle theft operations happening in broad daylight in Portland. It’s really absurd that more isn’t being done about it.

Thank you everyone for the support this morning. It meant a lot. I am extremely lucky this turned out the way it did. I was so sad about it because of my goof-up and — more importantly — because this bike means so much to me. It feels great to have it back and this has been a valuable experience in more ways than one.

Harvest Century is September 23rd
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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

187 Comments
  • Rob Chapman November 4, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I’m glad you found it!

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  • GlowBoy November 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Good sleuthing!

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  • ricochet November 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Death to Bike Thieves. Glad you got it back.

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    • calen November 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      How about mental health services for drug addicts. Bike thieves don’t do it for fun. They’re desperate. They don’t need death. They need help.

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      • eli bishop November 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm

        THEY NEED TO NOT STEAL BIKES.

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        • scott November 6, 2014 at 8:49 am

          It’s so simple Eli, I’m really glad you discovered the problem and the fix.

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  • AdamL November 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Really glad you got your ride back. I’d love to become more involved in community driven recovery – however that might work. I participated in a successful Craigslist recovery a few years ago and it was an empowering experience. Slippery slope, I know. I imagine there a lot of readers here that can relate to that sick feeling in your gut when your bike is stolen. I know there are many good ideas already floating around (revamped bikeindex will hopefully help) and maybe some kind of brainstorming session over beers is in order:)

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  • Jim November 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    File a complaint with UP about criminal activity on their property. They have their own police force and are used to dealing with bummies.

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    • Adam November 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      They don’t seem to deal with them very well. I run past that hole in the fence almost daily. It is always there, and there are ALWAYS tons of menacing transients coming and going through it. If UP really cared, they would do a lot more to keep people out. It makes that portion of the Eastbank Esplanade very sketchy in the dark. It freaks me out running past it at times for sure.

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      • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

        If you are frightened on Portland streets then I highly encourage you to volunteer somewhere where you can meet some of these people. Your fear leads me to believe you will not approach them on the street so go to the mission or something once a month or a food bank or organize a Food Not Bombs or something. There really is nothing to be afraid of. They are people. Plain and simple. If your privilege has separated you from that simple truth, do whatever it takes to get that understanding back.

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    • F.W. de Klerk November 5, 2014 at 6:38 am

      They are too busy harassing people from Daimler who ride the cement road.

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    • scott November 6, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Everybody knows cops fix nothing. Yard bulls, even less. No need to have a bunch of power abusing small minded people just moving camps from here to there. That fixes absolutely nothing.

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    • Don November 6, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Actually, UP has only a couple of Police in the area. Portland Police used to have a couple of officers assigned to the area to deal with that sort of stuff, and those camps got visited often.

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  • patrickz November 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Here’s to you and your ride, Jonathan. I’m glad for you.

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  • Cheif November 4, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    It wasn’t mentioned in the article but I would suggest going out armed for anyone wanting to take part in similar bike return scenarios.

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    • Paul November 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Let’s just assume he was armed – a right one and a left one 😉

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    • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Here’s a person that is afraid of everything and thinks one can control situations with threat of harm.

      pfft

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  • Todd Hudson November 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Great ending. Did you inform PPB? Complaints about thieves operating in that are might prompt them to roust the campers out of there. It might be useful to tell ODOT too, as it’s their property….

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  • Paul in The 'Couve November 4, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Jonathan, Very glad you are back in possession of your bicycle and sorry you lost the accessories. Great work recovering it. Still sorry for the loss of your lights and gps and sundry.

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  • bryan hance
    bryan hance November 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    It’s embarrassing and maddening that we have these idiots/thieves operating bike chop shops in the same places, out in the open, every ***ing day, completely unchecked.

    Take a lap around the esplanade any day of the week and you’ll count several of these chop shops. Head down the Springwater and count the frames. Head under the 405, do the same thing. It’s a disgrace.

    Given the violence these esplanade guys have been responsible for lately your recovery trip could have taken an entirely different and horrible turn, Jonathan. Rusty screwdriver + angry tweaker, etc. Glad you’re back in one piece, and let’s do that summit soon.

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    • Adam November 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      I don’t understand how they are there. The Portland Police Bureau has police on bikes on the Esplanade pretty much permanently. They never seem to arrest anybody, for anything. They bike right past people smoking illegal substances, shooting up heroin on the steps, and disassembling bicycles, so it would seem.

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      • Cheif November 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

        Your bike cops actually ride their bikes? That’s impressive.. Seattle bike cops have fully embraced cafe culture, these days you will only see a police bike in Seattle if you are walking past a coffee shop. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a police bike in use.

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      • was carless November 5, 2014 at 11:50 pm

        You don’t see them actually on the Esplanade, but just off the Springwater and along the streets next to the Esplanade.

        However, to “nail them” the police would actually have to track stolen goods in/out of the camps, which would take some effort. I wonder if they prefer this kind of theft rather than home break-ins, car prowls and robberies? Would the crime shift from one to the other?

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      • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:12 am

        Disassembling bicycles is not illegal. As to open drug use what would you have them do? First of all I do not believe you that cops see drug use and do nothing but give me your scenario on beat cops arresting addicts endlessly and how that would help.

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        • Nicholas Skaggs November 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

          Dude, Scott.

          C’mon man, stop being such an apologist. It seems like you’re on every comment thread in this article defending or excusing the behavior of these people. How many times do you have to make your point? We get it, you think the solution doesn’t involve police or law enforcement. Awesome. That’s a nice opinion. Thank you.

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          • scott November 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

            Many people have commented multiple times on this thread. Are you mad because of my position, my dedication to my position, or that my argument is solid and informed?

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    • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Yeah! And one of the tweakers could have been former NFL prospect Brian Bosworth and used his strength and speed to turn the rusty screwdriver into an elven firesword with a +8 to smiting!!! What would Jonathan have done then? Does he even have fire armor???

      I think it is weird when people project fear into situations that have not come about yet, but you bryan hance, have managed to project it onto a situation that was resolved with a threat level of zero. Amazing.

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  • Tim Hanrahan November 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Oh man, my buddy and I rode by you there on the esplanade a couple of hours ago and said hey, thinking you were doing a photo shoot or something. I saw the two bikes. Dang, if I’d known you were in the middle of a stolen bike recovery I would’ve offered a hand. Well done! Glad you saved your Cielo. I’ve seen another hobo camp just south of the Ross Island Bridge that looked like a bicycle chop shop. Dirty rats. Good save!

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  • wsbob November 4, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    An almost unbelievably lucky recovery. In the daylight, no predators to fight off, bike still in very good condition. You’sa lucky boy, maus. Nice to have that little chapter in your life over, I’m sure.

    I suppose even better, would have been to also catch the guys that took the bike. How significant that could have been, depends. Life is bleak for a lot of people today.

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    • RHampel November 5, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Life has ALWAYS been bleak for a certain group in ANY society. This isn’t new and there isn’t a cure. The common denominator in the vast majority of cases like the miscreants running these “chop shops” is people who refuse to follow the most basic rules of what is a pretty tolerant society.

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      • RHampel November 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        Oh, I’m very happy that you had a happy ending, Jonathan.

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  • Alex Reed - BikeLoudPDX November 4, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Oh my gosh, how wonderful and exciting that you got it back! Well done!

    My positive spin: it makes me wonder if this whole series of events was somehow fated to take place in order to give even more motivation and a personal story to your already-extant work with the City on bike theft. Let BikeLoud know how we can help! (a few hundred well-timed postcards to the right person, say! 🙂 )

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    • More cynical November 5, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Or possibly engineered, which would really suck.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly November 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Congrats!!!!

    Maybe somebody should organize a “chop shop ride” where 50 of us crash several of these locations and…. I don’t know. I haven’t thought it through, yet.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      How about an invitation-only ride sort of like the Policymakers Ride? Take key city hall and dept people (PPD, PPR, BOT, DOT) on a 90-minute loop highlighting the most obvious chop shops along popular bike routes. I’ve only seen pictures and those are quite appalling but I bet a real-world glimpse would have even more impact.

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      • was carless November 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm

        And the media…. what a shitstorm it could cause!

        I almost feel bad for the people living there, though. I go by them every day.

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  • Bjorn November 4, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Moving these people around the city isn’t going to help. It is time for people like Amanda Fritz to realize that coddling drug addict thieves isn’t helping. Something needs to be done to get bike thieves off the street for extended periods of time. I am glad you got most of your stuff back but you still appear to be missing hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. We need sting bikes and real penalties for the people who are doing this. Lets open up some space in our jails by releasing non-violent people who were selling some weed and put these folks where they belong.

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  • Jon November 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Portland is far too tolerant of these camps. They need to be cleaned out and the laws enforced. Lawlessness breeds lawlessness. My wife tells me about the things she sees around the camps along the Springwater and they discourage her from riding on that path. Sadly it sometimes seems safer to ride on the streets instead of the path.

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    • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Where would you have them? Out of sight out of mind? Hidden in Forest Park? Illuminate me with options that don’t include increasing taxes to provide better permanent shelters.

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      • davemess November 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

        Scott, I know this is an important topic for you. Are you okay with the status quo?

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        • scott November 7, 2014 at 9:10 am

          I am not okay with the status quo. I also think it is absolute folly to think that anything positive will come from going after the symptoms. People doing what they have to to get by is not surprising. Mental health systems and avenues for rehabilitation and reintegration of those living on the streets are the only way to address the problem.

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  • Sam November 4, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I’m glad you and your bike are safe! I knew you were OK because you were justifiably triumphantly writing your blog, but I keep thinking a meth-head you jump at any time as I read it.

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  • Jolly Dodger November 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Holy hell that was fortuitous! Good rescue story.,,,no disclaimer about not trying this ‘at home’ so to speak? Did you carry any weapons (other than a u-lock)? Be safe where you seek…the most desperate folks are those hungry enough to steal in the first place.

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  • Lee November 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Another community driven web service — Nextdoor.com — offers among other things crime reports, lost and found. This would have been another way to get people on the lookout for your bike.

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  • Alan 1.0 November 4, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I know it’ll never happen but I’d sure be interested in a long-term (many months) undercover sting on the full chop shop and fencing scene, not only bait bikes (frame serials) but also carefully marked components (RFIDs? etched?), and coordination with other cities to see where the parts show up. Seems pretty easy to seed via buyers like the woman Jonathan mentioned.

    Since that won’t happen, I’d be happy to see some short-term take-downs of the blatant chop shops. If any cops or policy makers are reading this, take note of the numerous sentiments posted about citizens taking things into their own hands, think what that says about how bad this problem is, and get a handle on it before good people do dumb things out of desperation.

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    • Psyfalcon November 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      That would be nice to know.

      We know that bikes are easy enough to steal, and even to resell for $20, but if you have people taking bikes apart, there must be a market for the (often low end) components. Who is buying this stuff? Craigslist isn’t exactly filled with a parts list and “meet me under the Hawthorne Bridge.”

      Directly sold to shops? Laundered though other people?

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      • lyle w. November 5, 2014 at 8:08 am

        Ebay has a pretty thriving used bike parts section. If you’re not super super desperate for cash immediately, that’s probably the smartest way to go if you’re ripping bikes off on a regular basis. I got my ultegra groupset that way, and wonder if it came from a stripped bike, as the ad was somewhat poorly written and terse.

        That’s really actually the only way to get quality used bike components where you can buy from someone who has an established and documented history of being a legit online seller.

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        • Psyfalcon November 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm

          But how do the parts go from the homeless along the waterfront to ebay? No computers, no internet?

          Is it one person, or several that are buying up the parts? Finding those people might be the quickest way to make the industry a little less viable.

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          • bryan hance
            bryan hance November 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm

            Through a series of middlemen, like this guy who’s advertising “cash for bikes” in all the local transient camping spots/chop shops. Or any flea market within 200 miles. Or any number of guys who run their own little markets out of their garages, etc.

            Lots of flea market buyers, too – just middlemen who will move bundles of bikes, tires, parts etc. to other sellers and sales outlets. Some of which end up on ebay, CL, or flea markets etc. — and some of which don’t – there are middlemen who buy from flea mkts, PD and college auctions etc and put them in shipping containers and ship them back to their home countries where they can make a higher profit on them. Stuff like that.

            There are endless hordes of these guys, and not all of them bad … but most of them are greymarket and at least know they’re getting smoking deals because the bikes and parts are all stolen. But the first part of the chain starts the whole thing rolling – and it’s these esplanade-type guys, basically.

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  • Tim November 4, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    I commute on the Esplanade every day and have steadily watched the number of tents under the I-5 bridge near where Jonathan recovered his bike increase. Many of them have been there for weeks or months. Similarly, I’ve seen the chop shops, particularly in the vicinity of Salmon and Water, operating in the open for months on end. And that’s a conservative estimate.

    These are ongoing theft operations, and they may well move around in the event of crackdowns, but that’s no reason to allow them to do their thing with impunity. I think this situation has long since ceased to be about homelessness and started to be about allowing lawless thieves to operate in plain sight steps from some of the most heavily trafficked cycling and pedestrian thoroughfares in the city. It’s not acceptable. Compassion for the homeless does not mean you need to suffer every schmuck in Portland, and these people are definitely schmucks.

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  • Tilton Farnsworth November 4, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Folks are rightly angry about the brazen street thieves and their riverside dens…you can call ODOT, Union Pacific or the Police to try and clear out the camps but you’ll just be squeezing a balloon. They will pop up somewhere else within 48 hours.

    Lock your bikes properly (U-locks not cables), take off the lights and accessories and accept the fact that it may still get swiped despite your best efforts. Don’t get too attached to your “stuff” folks…you didn’t make it, you just bought it…it’s doesn’t represent or define you as a person.

    Losing a bike to theft is psychologically invasive and perhaps financially painful as well but you’ll likely be “whole, healed and wheeled” in a month or less…the creeper who stole your ride likely has one foot in the grave and a bed under a bridge…nothing we can do short of extended imprisonment or capital punishment will reduce the threat of bike theft…and (fortunately) very few would advocate for those remedies I suspect.

    Hats off to Mr. Maus for his deductive initiative and brilliant profiling skills…you deserve a jersey with a big red “B” on the chest…BIKEMAN!!!

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    • esther2 November 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Its true that our belongings don’t define us. But there is nothing the matter with valuing possessions that we work hard to own for the conveniece they provide us. Mobility is nice and bikes give us that.

      Portland doesn’t have to make itself a haven for bike thieves so they come from all over the country to operate here with impunity.

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  • William Henderson November 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Wow, what a lucky break! Congrats on the find.

    I ride by the homeless camps on the east bank Springwater trail every day. There are always tons of bikes, plus piles of parts and frames. Makes me pretty sad, but I’ve never done anything but stare. Should I call the cops? Would they do anything?

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  • K'Tesh November 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Great detective work! Glad to hear the good news!

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  • Drew November 5, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Happy to hear you got your Cielo back!
    Several years ago I saw a beautiful Mariposa custom touring bike leaning up against a pole outside Woodstock Safeway, unlocked. It was amazing to me that such a valuable bike would be left unprotected. Nobody seemed to be looking like after it. I waited for half an hour, acting like the owner. Finally I had to leave the bike to its fate. Taking it for safekeeping and trying to find the owner did not seem like a good option. I didn’t think the police would be interested. Anybody have an idea on what to do in this situation?

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    • wsbob November 5, 2014 at 12:58 am

      “…Several years ago I saw a beautiful Mariposa custom touring bike leaning up against a pole outside Woodstock Safeway, unlocked. It was amazing to me that such a valuable bike would be left unprotected. Nobody seemed to be looking like after it. I waited for half an hour, acting like the owner. …” Drew

      If you’re honest, it would have involved some effort and risk on your part, but I think if you were prepared for that, you could have taken it. Rescuing it thus, you would have had a number of legit options. There’s a greater chance the bike would get back from a rescuer, to the owner it was taken from, than it would from some thief.

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    • Stevie Dee November 6, 2014 at 7:33 am

      Drew
      I saw a beautiful Mariposa custom touring bike leaning up against a pole outside Woodstock Safeway, unlocked. It was amazing to me that such a valuable bike would be left unprotected. Nobody seemed to be looking like after it. I waited for half an hour, acting like the owner. Finally I had to leave the bike to its fate. Taking it for safekeeping and trying to find the owner did not seem like a good option. I didn’t think the police would be interested. Anybody have an idea on what to do in this situation?

      I would have suspected a honeytrap intended for a genuine bike thief and left it alone, as you did.

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  • David Lewis November 5, 2014 at 12:31 am

    I am originally from a part of the country where the weather does not support homelessness. Even panhandlers are quite rare.

    Then I lived in Germany for several years, and the beggars there kneel with their hands outstretched. They are professionals, and have a combination of pride and humility I have a certain admiration for.

    Then I moved to Portland, where there are several distinct subcultures of transients, the first I noticed being the crust punks with their color-coordinated uniforms. There are others.

    To be fair, I judge our current socio-political climate for failing to provide shelter and sustenance to the mentally ill equally and fairly. This has created most of the problem.

    Additionally, bicycle subculture has a convoluted sense of value in brand names, which perpetuates the problem.

    I seems to me that acting on a hunch in a small town like Portland is a good bet.

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    • F.W. de Klerk November 5, 2014 at 6:41 am

      That’s right. It’s the victims fault for having something nice they worked and paid for. I guess those who steal these bikes are entitled for some reason.

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  • Ted Buehler November 5, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Jonathan — I’m pretty sure your bike was on ODOT property.

    The break in the fence is between Portland Parks and ODOT property. There’s another fence between ODOT property and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

    FWIW.

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  • Ted Buehler November 5, 2014 at 12:38 am

    BTW, the gap in the fence in Pic 3 represents a potential future Multiuse Path “shortcut” between the Steel Bridge and the corner of Water Ave and SE Stark St. It’s a level route, plenty wide, of poorly maintained gravel. Used by ODOT as an access route for freeway maintenance. (Not used by the Union Pacific, as I don’t think there are any breaks in the fence between the gravel road and RR tracks.

    This would make travel a couple minutes faster between NW Portland and SE Portland than any of the existing routes. You wouldn’t need to go down the ramps to the floating path, and up again. Wouldn’t need to do the zig zag south of Burnside, wouldn’t need to play chicken with the bollards all over the place.

    You could just ride from the lower deck of the Steel Bridge to SE Water St. Bam. Flat level route, wide, direct. And it wouldn’t be attractive to recreational riders and joggers because it would be between the freeway and railroad tracks.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Michael Miller November 7, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Exactly — I’ve long thought this would be a great bike infrastructure improvement. During the warmer months, it also gets you out of the slalom course on the Esplanade. It would make conditions nicer for both recreational users of the Esplanade and transportation cyclists.

      Portland’s first bike route bypass?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 5, 2014 at 5:40 am

    On a previous thread, I suggested a city ordinance that would criminalize possession of a large number of bikes or parts not on the possessor’s own property, with exceptions for rides, swap meets, bike shops, etc.

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    • Todd Hudson November 5, 2014 at 7:08 am

      Or just enforce the already-existing camping ban on public property. If city runs constant sweeps of these areas, it’ll keep them moving and less able to run chop shops.

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  • Grandpa November 5, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Jonathan
    Thank you for using your beloved bike as bait to shine light on the pervasive problem of bike theft in Portland. I look forward to seeing how your hands-on journalism is leveraged with law enforcement to address the problem

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  • F.W. de Klerk November 5, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Who is advocating beatings? People just want something done about a big problem in this city. For some people that bike that was stolen from them may be their only source of transportation. Sorry but I don’t subscribe to your “the homeless are holy” ideal.

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    • J_R November 5, 2014 at 8:43 am

      Being tolerant hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s time for a more aggressive approach. I’m tired of having my possessions vandalized and stolen, my home invaded, and being harassed or at least made uncomfortable for my personal safety in public spaces designed for transportation or recreation. I guess you’re just more compassionate and forgiving at this stage of your live than I am now.

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      • Bjorn November 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm

        Jonathan mentioned that there is quite a list of known bike thieves, I am guessing that file probably also has information on if the thieves have steady addresses or not. Shouldn’t take much to determine if most of these serial bike thieves are homeless, my guess is that if they had a house to break down bikes in they would use it rather than doing it out of a tent down by the river.

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      • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:26 am

        Compassion comes with understanding. That is what you need. Educate yourself on the ACTUAL problem and not the symptoms and your understanding will be greater and then compassion will follow.

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        • bobbobberson November 6, 2014 at 10:25 am

          Yes bike thieves need to be more compassionate towards the people they steal from. They need to understand that what they are doing is wrong. The cops need to educate people that they are breaking the law.

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    • Dan November 5, 2014 at 10:29 am

      So you don’t advocate a private or a public force? Fascinating. Tolerance of crime has just made it worse. What is your solution?

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      • MaxD November 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm

        The thing that keeps nagging me about the tent-city chop-shops is how impressive they are! These are people who clearly understand the power of bikes! With very little resources few tools, no covered space, no electricity, etc, they build up these pretty sophisticated businesses. If the mental health issue and addiction issues could be worked on, these people seem to possess the skills and initiative needed to launch a legitimate, bike-based business. It seems so expensive and counter-productive to imprison the petty criminals (some of them, yes- but hopefully not all of them!).

        On the other hand, I hear rumors of some organized, west coast, stolen bike distribution ring that drives up an down the I-5 corridor with a bus and trailer, buying and selling stolen bikes. For my money, I would like the law to go after these people and lock them up! I can see some similarities to prostitution- go after the pimps and johns, do what you can to protect and support the women.

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        • Psyfalcon November 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm

          Exactly.

          And tearing apart all these bikes isn’t that easy. Would they work if you offered them $20 to plant some roses or something? I guess you have a minimum wage problem then, if the city does it.

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        • wsbob November 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm

          “…These are people who clearly understand the power of bikes! With very little resources few tools, no covered space, no electricity, etc, they build up these pretty sophisticated businesses. If the mental health issue and addiction issues could be worked on, these people seem to possess the skills and initiative needed to launch a legitimate, bike-based business. …” MaxD

          Nice thought. Much tougher though, to run a legit business or hold a legit job. And there’s the adrenalin factor. I wish everyone could be able to have a nice, regular job at a decent wage, that they could be happy doing. A very elusive dream, it seems.

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      • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

        Yeah cuz our use of force in the middle east is paying off big time. We should just invade these camps. Maybe bomb them. Tanks or something. That oughta do it.

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  • Tony November 5, 2014 at 7:16 am

    well done! I tried the same a year ago when my Tri cross was stolen, no luck! There is a special place in hell for bike thieves!

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  • Tim November 5, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hopefully there’s a balance between the two extremes. I don’t want a private security force brutalizing the homeless either, but that doesn’t mean criminals should essentially have free reign to do whatever they want. Those seem like the two most dramatic extremes; there’s a reasonable middle path, I would think.

    Letting the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater operate as open-air chop shops has real consequences: it sucks for victims like Jonathan, obviously. It sucks for the popularity and mode share potential of bicycling in Portland in general; I work at a large Central Eastside employer and the biggest reason clients and colleagues tell me they don’t ride to work is fear of theft. And when we have bikes brazenly stripped in the relatively early evening hours regularly, it’s hard to blame them. And it sucks for any future potential Springwater-like bike and ped projects. When you don’t meaningfully tackle crime on the Springwater or the Esplanade, you’re giving ammunition to every NIMBY who’s going to fight ambitious future projects like the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. If we don’t care for these bold, person-friendly pieces of infrastructure it’s going to get harder politically to build more of them.

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  • Todd Hudson November 5, 2014 at 7:41 am

    No, people just want the law enforced (e.g., theft, trafficking stolen goods, camping on city property) and nobody has suggested violence. It’s an uncomfortable fact that these homeless campers drive a disproportionate amount of property crime. Their poor life choices don’t exempt them from consequences of breaking the law. The approach of coddling them has made things worse. It’s time to do something that has positive has results.

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    • Bryan November 5, 2014 at 7:54 am

      To say nothing of the actual stabbings, violent robberies with boxcutters, etc.

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  • Cindy Bernert-Coppola November 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

    So glad you were able to retrieve it, Jonathan. I know that bike meant a lot to you. And glad you were safe – that’s a scary area!

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson November 5, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Go By Bike Valet 97,000+ bikes parked and zero bike thefts

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  • Marc Brodehl November 5, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Story of the year! Loved it.

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  • Charles Ross November 5, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I have no sympathy for the homeless. Yes, it’s tough to be without a roof over your head. It’s tougher to get up to an alarm everyday and hold down a job that keeps that roof over your head.
    Jonathan obviously values his bike and was focused on the simple return of his property but he should have gotten a police officer out there to arrest the person responsible. He should have then followed the process out to its natural end: a court proceeding, a guilty plea and a fine.
    Bike theft is more than a simple theft of property worth X amount. It’s really a crime against the community. It undermines us all.
    I lock my $1,000 bike downtown and lose it to theft? Maybe I don’t replace it and instead just drive instead.
    Who loses? Everybody!!

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    • lyle w. November 5, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Even if a cop responded who was actually interested in being proactive and arresting someone on sight, that would have been tough to do with nobody around and the bike abandoned. Let alone, the issue of having to actually witness the bike being stolen in order to charge someone with the theft. Just walking around with a bike, or having it stacked among a dozen others in a chop shop, is not a crime if you can’t definitively link it to an act of theft. A lot of times, all you need to do is claim ‘some guy’ gave it to you, or you found it laying somewhere, and that’s all the cops need to let you go. Maybe you’ll get the bike back, but in order to really prosecute someone for this theft, that would have been exceedingly hard to do at the point where the bike was discovered on the esplanade. Basically impossible, actually.

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      • Psyfalcon November 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

        Receiving stolen property?

        I’m sure they’ve arrested people for less.

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      • Anna November 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm

        When I found my stolen bike on craigslist the cops straight up refused to help me get it back or do anything about it. They said they don’t have the time or the manpower to deal with recovering stolen bikes. I made an appointment with the seller/thief and stole it back myself.

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  • Neil
    Neil November 5, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Good karma indeed.

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  • Tom November 5, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I talked to a homeless person that said there was a guy posting signs in that area that he would buy “used” bikes. This means, there are others supporting the thieves and making a business out of it.

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    • bryan hance
      bryan hance November 5, 2014 at 9:14 am

      I think you mean this “cash for bicycles” one, which was posted back in October:

      http://bikeportland.org/2014/10/03/comment-week-fight-bike-theft-111813

      This and others like it have been posted in and around chop shops / transient camps for months now.

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      • TonyT
        TonyT November 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

        I’ve been taking down every one of those things I see.

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        • Cheif November 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

          Maybe time to start replacing them with signs offering cash in exchange for the right hands of bike thieves.

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        • bryan hance
          bryan hance November 5, 2014 at 9:54 am

          good! 🙂

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          • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

            If only the cops would get a wiretap on that number like they did in the West Coast Car Crushing case that Russell mentioned

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  • caesar November 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Charles Ross
    … but he should have gotten a police officer out there to arrest the person responsible. He should have then followed the process out to its natural end: a court proceeding, a guilty plea and a fine.
    Recommended 0

    I wish it could be that simple. In this case, who would the police have arrested? Who witnessed the theft? Cops must follow legal process.

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    • Charles Ross November 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

      The guy who hops on Jonathan’s bike and rides it one foot is the thief. It doesn’t matter who originally stole the bike . As it sits there under the overpass, the bike still belongs to Jonathan Maus. If the owner of ‘Bike Portland’, a bicycle advocacy blog can’t step up and follow the process through: find the bike, arrest the thief, file a complaint, go to a court proceeding, exact punishment, why should any one else do anything?
      His quickly finding his stolen bike is certainly noteworthy and remarkable but the guy who stole his bike is still out there.
      Why?

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  • Kristof Roth November 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

    How did you manage to leave your unique prize-bike unlocked for several hours in the first place? Were you texting?

    Please write another entry on the perils of absent-mindedness. 🙂

    Ever ride in the Corridor at night? Smoke from fires of permanent camping residents along the shoreline just beyond Ross Island Bridge drifts up over the bike-path. People are moving things down there (big boards and shit) to fortify their camps after dark. It’s weird and makes me wonder about the legality of such settlements.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

      I forget exactly what I was doing at that moment. I suppose I could have been looking at my phone. It was simply, like you said, absent-mindedness.

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  • Editz November 5, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Here’s how Oregon used to deal with horse thieves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_theft#mediaviewer/File:Horse_thief_hanging.png

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  • Eric November 5, 2014 at 9:21 am

    LOCK UP YOUR BIKES!!!!

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  • Dan November 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I’m imagining a scenario where transient camps are running chop shops for stolen automobiles in broad daylight in the middle of the city. Would the enforcement (or lack thereof) be the same?

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  • Karl November 5, 2014 at 9:30 am

    This reeks of FALSE FLAG. I’m surprised the STORY didn’t include you single -handedly fighting off the purported bike thieves. Don’t ever run for office, I promise to expose you. And yes I have pics.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

      I had a feeling some people would think this is all B.S. It’s not Karl. And I would love to see these pics you’re talking about. I’d love to see you try and expose me! I have nothing to hide. Thanks for the comment.

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      • Karl November 5, 2014 at 10:50 am

        Pics of you daily stalking the homes of people who disagree with you. Making obscene gestures at their prepubescent children.

        Self righteous zealots are always thin skinned nut jobs.

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        • OuterSERider November 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

          Third party, uninitiated observation: That last statement seems ironic coming from you Karl.

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        • Chris I November 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

          Maybe you can write a guest blog post.

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          • John Lascurettes November 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

            Yes, Karl. Please, by all means, write a guest blog post. And as Jonathan invites you to – expose him. This should be [a] good [waste of text].

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        • Paul November 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

          Broadcasting accusations in the comments of his blog isn’t exactly noble either.

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      • Bjorn November 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

        I have known several people who realized their bikes were stolen shortly after they were taken that were able to recover them by quickly scouring the usual suspects. In fact one of them was able to recover his touring bike on two separate occasions. I have no doubt that although he was lucky to find it that this story is accurate.

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  • jonno November 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I agree with the commenters who point out that this is not an issue of homelessness, it’s an issue of lawlessness. It’s everywhere and the level of aggression and menace is like nothing I’ve seen in my 15+ years in Portland.

    Case in point: heading home over the Burnside bridge eastbound late this past summer, I saw a guy brazenly stripping a bike in the bike lane just east of SW 2nd, adjacent to the unwelcoming stretch of sidewalk where groups of what look like heroin addicts hang out all summer long. Even against that backdrop this guy was so shockingly blatant that I had to get him on video. The group reclining on the sidewalk started shouting at me that I had to have permission to film (ha!) and one guy got up and started coming at me with his hand in his pocket like he was holding a weapon, so I quickly fled the scene.

    I got threatened by gutter punks for documenting criminal activity on a public street in downtown in broad daylight.

    The status quo has gone way too far in the direction of looking the other way. At least now in the rainy weather, maybe some of the worst will wash out to sunnier climes, but what happens come springtime?

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  • Bald One November 5, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Jonathan, l think you must be the king of karma. And damn fine detective work on your own. You deserve this favorable outcome. Congrats.

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  • TOM November 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

    >> ” I left my bike unlocked and unattended on SW 4th Avenue for several hours without realizing it was even there. And, not surprisingly, it was stolen.”

    I don’t understand that statement. If you didn’t “realize it was even there” , how did you know it was missing ? sleepriding ?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 5, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Tom,

      I agree that statement is weird and confusing. I just deleted it. To clarify: I left the bike unattended at about 8:30 am or so and didn’t even realize that I’d left it there until about 12:30 or so. I only realized it was missing after I dressed for a lunch ride and went to hop on it!

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  • Ben McLeod November 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

    These chop shops have gotten much more brazen over the course of the last several months. I ride the Springwater most every day, and work in the Eastside Industrial District. These camps are up and down the Springwater, taking over picnic tables and benches with their tents, tarps and many, many bikes and bike parts. It’s totally crazy. Anybody looking at the scene knows that these people are trafficking in stolen bikes – in broad daylight.

    I’ve been riding the Springwater between Sellwood and OMSI for five years and, until a few months ago, never felt unsafe. Over the summer, I’ve seen what was a few scattered camps along the river turn into a pretty continuous camp, filled with trash, (stolen) bikes and really sketchy people. If this activity keeps up, the Springwater will no longer be the family-friendly, safe place to ride.

    I want to be compassionate of the homeless. I really do. But frankly, I also question whether these people are truly destitute and homeless, or just criminals who have found a new angle.

    When such rampant crime is occurring right in front of our faces, what are we to do?

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  • Beth Hamon November 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

    It is hard for me to read this story and not see a much bigger, sadder picture. The fact is that we are spiraling downward into a deeper class divide, more people are becoming homeless and desperate, and those of us clinging to some vague “middle” class either ignore the signs and pretend we’ll be fine or we are lying awake at night wondering if and when we’ll be next to fall off the cliff.

    Homelessness is growing. Mental illness is increasingly going untreated. Kids are losing family and stability at a younger age as the job market becomes more brutal, Public schools are going in the toilet. College has become an expensive joke that fewer can afford and jobs continue to pack up and fly overseas.

    Bike theft is a SYMPTOM of a much bigger and scarier hole. I’m sorry Jonathan lost his very nice road bike, and glad he recovered it; but honestly it is very hard for me not to see the bigger picture and consider the first-worldness of this story. One of these days, someone is going to try and take back his stolen bike from the thieves and get himself killed in the process. When that happens I will not be surprised, only very sad.

    (To be fair, I am writing this the morning after an election in which conservatives and their brutal social policies have won out, and I admit that my writing is deeply colored by that reality.)

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    • Granpa November 5, 2014 at 11:37 am

      There is a difference between being sympathetic to the homeless and wanting effective justice set upon bike thieves. From the boo-hooing it sounds like homeless sympathizers are admitting that the homeless are bike thieves and because of their plight, it is justified.

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      • Adam November 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

        No, Granpa, I think Beth is calling for a more complex analysis of cause an effect. Long term policy decisions have put a lot of people on the streets. And, some homeless people engage in survival crimes. You will not have a lot of success addressing one thing and not the other.

        And, in my opinion, maybe hundreds of people living under bridges is the bigger deal, anyway.

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        • Grandpa November 5, 2014 at 6:45 pm

          They are not stealing bread or blankets

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          • Bill Walters November 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

            Really? How do we know? Check the coverage on bread/blanketportland.org?

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    • Paul in The 'Couve November 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Just letting the homeless camps get larger and letting theft and chop shops become bolder and more open is not a good option. Unfortunately, just cracking down and arresting people is just going to shuffle people around and not likely improve the overall picture. A much broader commitment to addressing these problems is required from the entire region.

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      • Editz November 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

        I tend to agree that rousting these camps isn’t a long term solution, but we should be doing something to make it more difficult for these thieves to operate, i.e. forcing them to set up further from downtown. It also encourages the homeless to keep an eye on who’s around them and report problems, since they don’t want to be rousted.

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    • Nicholas Skaggs November 6, 2014 at 11:14 am

      This is a very good analysis of a big problem that we are all going to have to work very hard to solve, if we can solve it.

      🙁

      It’s a mad world.

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      • scott November 7, 2014 at 9:13 am

        “It’s a mad world” ??

        And you have the gall to call me an apologist.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Beth wrote:

      Bike theft is a SYMPTOM of a much bigger and scarier hole. I’m sorry Jonathan lost his very nice road bike, and glad he recovered it; but honestly it is very hard for me not to see the bigger picture and consider the first-worldness of this story.

      You and me both Beth. You and me both.

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  • o/o November 5, 2014 at 10:12 am

    We need to form some kind of a volunteer group to patrol and look out for stolen bicycles/theives in the corridor. The city seem not to do much about the ongoing problems in the corridor.

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  • PNP November 5, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I’m so glad you got your bike back! Great story. Your story is also highlighted on Oregonlive. Don’t read the comments; the bike haters are out in force, as usual. Still, there’s a really good picture of you there.

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  • Edwards November 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

    There is a very clear (and simple way) to take action on this issue from your desks… Media attention locally and nationally is how Politicians get involved. Once you get them involved then the City has to do something about it and not just police the issue till the heat is off them, once the city reacts we push even harder!

    I implore everyone that reads Bikeportland to write (and complain) to the local news, national news outlets… the more people that flood them with complaints the quicker they will react with research and a story! Once they launch a story everyone send it to the Governor, Mayor and city leaders!

    Here is a link to investigators submissions at KATU news
    http://www.katu.com/news/investigators/storyideas

    KOIN 6 has an investigation tip hot line… Call It!

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  • esther2 November 5, 2014 at 10:49 am

    I suppose the police are hampered by profiling. Can they just assume a bike is stolen because the person who possesses it is homeless? Unless they have a report in hand on the exact bike what is their legal reason for confiscating the bike?

    Could they get lists of stolen bikes and raid the chop shops daily? That might be an effective tactic. All they would need is one documented stolen bike to clean out all of them.

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    • BIKELEPTIC November 6, 2014 at 7:12 am

      That would be profiling to assume a bike is stolen because the person is homeless. I work for an organization assisting people experiencing homelessness and have many clients that scrimp together taking on day labor jobs, temp jobs or other legitimate opportunities to pay phone bills and buy themselves bikes so they would have reliable transportation to jobs. I get requests all the time (because apparently I’m the resident bikey know-it-all) on where to get inexpensive bikes, and sadness when I have to tell them that the CCC ‘create a commuter’ program isn’t happening right now.

      The best thing that can happen is, unfortunately report the area to the police. Especially when there’s such a confirmed theft happening. Police can clear it out. Outreach services can come in and try to redirect them to other places. And if that fails, they come out to E portland. But do remember that they’re people. We not dealing with a pest-control issue.

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      • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

        Sorry to hear CCC’s commuter program is dormant; maybe 2015? Meanwhile, Bikes for Humanity PDX (http://b4hpdx.org/) offers a similar program. They were at the 3rd Avenue Better Block PDX event early last month, so they’re very much active.

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        • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm

          I heard today, but have not confirmed, that Open House Ministries in Vancouver offers a similar “overhaul it to own it” bike program.

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        • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

          In today’s podcast, Lillian Karabaic says the CCC Create a Communter program is still around. That page needs an update to 2015, and it talks about “no longer take referrals for singular individuals, but rather work with our partner agencies who can fill a workshop with 15 or more participants…serving up to 168 people annually,” but it’s still going, I hope.

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          • BIKELEPTIC November 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

            You all rock. I am going to research Bikes 4 Humanity and the Open House Ministries (I actually bought some rarer pieces from their shop this summer coincidentally) – I misspoke re: CCC. It’s more a “not happening when we need it” – waiting for their funding hiatus to be over.

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  • Karl November 5, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Those poor people just need to pull themselves up by the boots and cross the line between homelessness and riding a bike worth thousands of dollars. Damn the poor, they ruin everything for us.

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    • Adam November 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      They are bad for the economy, too. Raise their taxes on those freeloaders. The bums will always lose!

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  • Dmitriy Zasyatkin November 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

    The City will try to do something about this if enough people speak up about it.

    So, who do we write to about this?

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    • Yellow Vest November 5, 2014 at 11:28 am

      your local state rep is probably a good start. Rob Nosse?

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    • KARL November 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Homelessness and poverty and big problems. It’s nice that you care so much though.

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  • Yellow Vest November 5, 2014 at 11:30 am

    find all the cops who are (were) really good at busting people for weed and tell them that they should now direct all of their energies on bike thieves… don’t want to waste those resources.

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  • robert November 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I know what it is like to be robbed, have my bike my car stolen, to have my house broken into, to be threatened. But I consider myself to have had a very easy life. When I read this tale, and all of the comments, all I hear is a bunch of whining about minor property crime. I don’t say this to invalidate a victims feelings, (believe me I have been there,) but to put it in context. Please don’t become bubble people who are outraged when the real world brushes up against your own.

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    • Bjorn November 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      There is no minor property crime, the fact that people view a stolen bike as unimportant because it might not be worth that much is precisely the problem. It creates far more inconvience and lost productivity for society when someone steals 200 50 dollar bikes than if they steal 1 10000 dollar car. There has to be some kind of real reprecussion on these people or they aren’t going to stop, but one thing the city could certainly do is make it a lot harder on them by busting up their chop shop encampments which would also do a lot to stop the insane litter problem they also represent.

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    • GlowBoy November 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      “Whining”? “Minor property crime”? Losing a bike may not be as bad as some things that go down, but it’s a significant loss for most people.

      Put the “first world problems” card back in the deck, please.

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  • tm November 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Tell that to Mark Sudin, Joseph Nelson, Jacob Harris and Joseph Tadlock, etc.

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  • Seph November 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    A few years ago I had a blowout near oaks amusement park and didn’t have a spare tube. I walked all the way to the homeless camp under the Hawthorn bridge pulling a bike with a trailer with 0 people stopping to ask if I needed any help. When I made it to that ‘chop shop’, everyone imminently jumped up and helped get me back on the road and never asked for a thing. Now I am not saying that there are no homeless people chop shops on the corridor, but I think that camp is pretty legit. Homeless people use bikes heavily and help each other out a lot. The lady didn’t ask to buy the bike, she asked if he was dropping it off. Maybe, just maybe, they are somewhat used to people being generous. If you are scarred of poor people, stick to car dominated routes.

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    • F.W. de Klerk November 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Plenty of “poor” people behind the wheel of cars too.

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    • was carless November 5, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      Partially true, its not like there aren’t a huge number of abandoned, shitty bikes that get recycled, with homeless people the beneficiaries of fixed up bikes. But there is clearly a decent amount of theft going on that may touch some of those camps as well.

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  • redhippie November 5, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Well, go on craigslist or look around at the “bye bikes” signs on the power polls. My house was recently burglized and it is amazing how many ads there are for “buy your silver”, “buy your electronics”, etc. on there. I think there are multiple tiers. People who steal, people who part out, people with the ebay/craigslist presence. It all trickles down.

    I think Johnathan got a taste of this when the woman asked if he was there to “drop off”. Only way it will change is if you start getting into the elected officals faces about it. Ask Amanda Fritz in a public meeting why our parks and green spaces are turning into shanty towns and magnets for crime?

    Psyfalcon
    That would be nice to know.
    We know that bikes are easy enough to steal, and even to resell for $20, but if you have people taking bikes apart, there must be a market for the (often low end) components. Who is buying this stuff? Craigslist isn’t exactly filled with a parts list and “meet me under the Hawthorne Bridge.”
    Directly sold to shops? Laundered though other people?
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  • redhippie November 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    It is apathy such as yours that encourages and fosters this problem.

    robert
    I know what it is like to be robbed, have my bike my car stolen, to have my house broken into, to be threatened. But I consider myself to have had a very easy life. When I read this tale, and all of the comments, all I hear is a bunch of whining about minor property crime. I don’t say this to invalidate a victims feelings, (believe me I have been there,) but to put it in context. Please don’t become bubble people who are outraged when the real world brushes up against your own.
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  • PJ November 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I used to be one of those traveling kids and I never knew one that was a bike thief. The thieves are the local tweekers that stay put and steal everything of value, especially bikes that can be disassembled and frankensteined back together to look different, or the parts themselves just sold off. Thank you meth, for making everything so wonderful 🙁

    Pro tip, hoppers don’t usually have tents, home-guards do.

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  • Peter R. November 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    What totally ticks me off is that people know these places exist and nothing is done about it. To those “defending” homelessness and the crime associated with it, all I can say is that through my life experiences, wherever there are homeless camps, there has always been crime. As far as I am concerned homeless camps and crime go hand in hand. That’s my politically incorrect statement for the day.

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  • Bald One November 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I don’t hear too much discussion about meth addiction as it relates to these homeless camps. I ride through these areas a lot. There are many, many tweakers in this bunch. Many people as high as a kite down there.

    Smoke meth >become a tweaker > become homeless > steal bicycles > buy meth > stay homeless

    Obviously many homeless people do not fall into this grouping, but it is getting really bad down there in this area in particular.

    Saw a guy down there recently trying to ride a nice $2000 road bike obviously not his, so tweaked, grinding the gears, weaving around, trying to blend with commuter traffic. He would have had an easier time walking it, but was clearly in a hurry. I see people riding around with bolt cutters in their hand and bandanas on their face on water Ave during the day.

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  • Paul G. November 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Anyone here experienced a burglary at their home? Had their garage broken into and tools or power equipment stolen? Had their car windows broken multiple times? Had their car boosted?

    How about had a road raged car driver try to run you and your son off the road because he felt you didn’t stop long enough at a stop sign (3 way stop btw, we rolled slowly through the side with no street)?

    I’ve experienced each, and dutifully filed a report, and in every case *but the last one that involved a physical threat*, the cops dutifully took my name and information and I never heard back. In the last case, the cop did a great job following up but only because it involved a physical threat to my son. He admitted if it had just been me and no force had been used, he wouldn’t have been able to give it much attention.

    Bicycle thefts are low level property crimes and the Portland police simply have too much on their plate to deal very aggressively with bike theft.

    Sure you can raise the profile in the City by publicity, but if you ultimately want the City to aggressively pursue low level theft, you are going to have to put up with higher taxes to pay for more cops on the street. If you really want to sweep out the homeless, you’re going to have to deal with ugly scenes of individuals, many of whom are mentally ill, being rousted and hassled. And I assume everyone here is ready to dig deep into their pockets to pay for the prison cells to hold these low level felons and the medical services to deal with their mental health issues.

    None of this is politically viable in the city we have all chosen to live in. Aggressive police enforcement and arrest without some other sort of policies to address the problems of mental health and poverty are doomed to failure.

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    • MaxD November 5, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I would rather pay for drug rehab and mental health counseling than prison cells. I suspect that the people in these homeless camps are stealing and stripping bikes and selling to the real criminals- entrepreneurs that deal in stolen bike parts and prey on the drug addicts. I would love to see some bait bike-type programs go after some of the criminals higher up the food chain. The tweakers would not steal so many bikes if there wasn’t a market for them.

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  • TOM November 5, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    OKAY, I rode Springwater from se111 to Sellwood just a couple of hours ago. There were even more homeless settlements than last summer. Most are located around where it underpasses 205.

    I sympathize with their problems, but there were mounds of garbage all over the place, groups were blocking the trail , and now there is a big encampment with a white picket gate protecting the blue tarp area. It had at least 20 bikes visible just from my few seconds passing by. Sure did APPEAR to be a bike chop shop.

    But about 50 yards later (at the first crossing east of 82nd) there was a PPD car parked on the trail . I’m thinking “ah,the PPD is way ahead of me” , but he was just packing up to leave. Hear no evil, see no evil ? They seemed invisible to him . And NO, I’m not calling the homeless ..evil , if some breaks had gone the other way, I might have been in that situation too.

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  • TOM November 5, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Tom,
    I agree that statement is weird and confusing. I just deleted it. To clarify: I left the bike unattended at about 8:30 am or so and didn’t even realize that I’d left it there until about 12:30 or so. I only realized it was missing after I dressed for a lunch ride and went to hop on it!

    sorry, but the explanation seems just as “weird and confusing” as the original.

    >> I left the bike unattended at about 8:30 am or so and didn’t even realize that I’d left it there until about 12:30 or so.

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    • davemess November 6, 2014 at 10:52 am

      He had two bikes. One he locked up and he meant to take the other in with him, but forgot and didn’t realize it until 4 hours later when he went to use it.

      This is kind of like when you have two bags of groceries and you go to get in your car (or on your bike, sorry) and you put one down to get out your keys and then you just leave it there.

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  • K'Tesh November 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Seems to me that bait bikes are long overdue in this city. :/

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  • Vicente Harrison November 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    My lock was cut and bike stolen off Porch in Arbor Lodge 4 years ago. I am still pissed. Blue Trek 1500 Discovery Channel edition. Converted to a Specialized Allez…

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  • Alan November 5, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Did you by chance stop by at businesses around the area to see if anyone had any video footage of who may have stole and rode off on your bike? With the prevalence of cameras, it seems a very strong likelihood that you can find some video evidence of who took it.

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  • Tophermcgarry November 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    While sitting with my daughter beneath the Hawthorne bridge this past weekend, I couldn’t believe what my eyes and common sense led me to realize. A bike chop shop was alive and well right there amongst one of the more traveled bike routes in Ptown. I witnessed at tweaker roll up in a crappy jeep with a expensive Mt. Bike load strapped to the roof. He was a clown who clearly did not own the bike. Just then the PoPo rolled by and didn’t even give a second look. They in turn went a block over and parked. I went over and expressed my concern, to which they casually replied ” yeah that’s a bike chop shop”. Well, can ya go take a look? Blank stares……. Bikes are precious beyond their appraised value people. If it’s dear, keep it near:)

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  • was carless November 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Man, you are so lucky you recovered your bike!

    Like I posted in the previous thread, some of the Springwater camps seem to be heavily involved in the trafficking of bike parts. Bike chop shops… heavy on volume.

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  • Broc November 6, 2014 at 12:57 am

    For those of you intent on highlighting a perceived skewed priority on the part of the PPD in regards to these matter, I strongly suggest you spend some time doing a ride-along with these officers. They will be glad to oblige.

    You might just be surprised at how much they bust their asses, from one incident to the next.

    So, you choose…which call does dispatch push you to, the assault or the abandoned bike? The wreck blocking I-5 during rainy rush hour or an incident report for a stolen bike? The 30 shots fired scene, or the pile of random bike parts?

    Quit simplifying and cherry picking the situation and blaming the cops. Grow up. Just a little.

    And, no, I ain’t a pig.

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  • BIKELEPTIC November 6, 2014 at 7:04 am

    I think the best part of this story is that the lady thought Jonathan looks like a tweaker and/or scuzzy bike thief that wanted to sell/trade a bike with her. <3

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  • scott November 6, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I agree. We have almost no infrastructure for mental health nationwide, none to speak of for public drug and alcohol counseling, and almost nothing in the way of getting people on the streets back on their feet.

    Doing what has to be done to get by is human nature. Yes drugs exacerbate the situation, but that is far from the point.

    Calling these camps the problem is victim blaming at it’s most privileged.

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  • Ken Southerland November 6, 2014 at 9:29 am

    In scanning this thread I don’t see anyone who has brought up the fact that to call this bike “stolen” is a real stretch. Jonathon, you left your bike *unlocked* for hours in a public space. It’s not that I don’t have sympathy, but to call its disappearance a theft is a bit of a stretch. Yes, you or I, would have, had we had the time, tried to locate it’s owner or locked it and left a note or something. But if I were a homeless person who stumbled on that, I would just say *sweet*! Score! And take it back to my humble abode.

    It is amazing, and awesome, that you found it and got it back. I would have done the same with the one exception that I wouldn’t have written an article about how scary and horrible this *den* of bike “thieves” were that I walked into to retrieve it. You have fallen right into the trap we Americans have of our fear of the homeless or the black man or what have you.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Hi Ken,

      Nice to hear from you! I think the issue here is that you’ve only “scanned.”

      You might be interested to know that I did not refer to my bike being stolen in my initial post. I said it was taken and I said it was my fault that it was taken. (note “taken” is different than “stolen”).

      I do not fault anyone for taking something that looks abandoned.

      However, I have changed my tune a bit after the situation unfolded and I realized — thanks to many commenters — that taking something that isn’t yours (regardless of if it was locked or not) and not trying to return it to its rightful owner is essentially theft. Not only that, but it’s clear that the bike did fall into the hands of thieves rather quickly. Given that the bike was stripped and that I had a strange conversation with a man in an encampment under I-5 who has been arrested for bike theft and who was extremely/strangely knowledgeable about my bike.. I think it’s safe to say my bike was indeed stolen.

      And I disagree with how you’ve characterized my article and my perspective on people who live outside. This article was not about how scary and horrible a “den of thieves” was. In fact, you used quotes on “den” but I never actually wrote that word.

      Throughout all of my coverage — even after what has happened — I have been completely respectful about people who live in these camps. But I am not afraid to call a thief a thief when it’s reasonable to do so.

      The only reason I described fear in the story above was because of the circumstances in general: I was in a dark, sort of spooky place, retrieving property that had been taken from me. Has absolutely ZERO to do with what you referred to as the “trap we Americans have of our fear of the homeless or the black man or what have you.”

      I don’t have that fear at all.

      Thanks for your comment. As you can tell by my response, I take this type of feedback seriously.

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  • babslin November 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Gotta shout out to PoPo who went out of their way to help me recover my bike. An awesome neighbor saw who took it from in front a friends car in their driveway (I’ll never not lock it again). Police applied appropriate pressure at the right house and voila! In a day my bike was back in my very happy hands. Congrats Jonathan, I know how great it feels to recover it!
    ….now carry on crazy ranters, use up your employers time whilst looking productive on your computer.

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  • KristenT November 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Saw you got interviewed on TV! I’m very glad you got your bike back!

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  • chicamarie1 November 6, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I am fairly aware of the tent cities and chop shops around inner SE as I ride on the Esplanade and under the bridges. But I hardly ever get to see what I assume is an intermediary. Last Saturday my family and I were leaving a Halloween party on SE 49th and Mill and I saw an extended bike/Extracycle bike in front of the house, just sitting there in the dark. Because I am naive and a good citizen, I thought I should knock on the door and let them know they left their bike out there. I had my hand on the handlebar when a super creepy dude opened the door and said “what’s going on?!” and looked all sketched out. Through the door I could see in the living room were many many bikes leaning up against the wall. My husband grabbed me and said we should get out of there, duh. So, if you are ever walking or riding by SE Mill between 49th and 50th, it’s a little blue house on the South side in the middle of the block. Maybe someone should start a pin-drop site with locations of these houses. Super NSA lameness, I know, but any legit bike people are already on this site, right??

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  • Nicholas Skaggs November 6, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Jonathan,

    I’m glad you got your beautiful bike back! Bummer your accessories were lost. I greatly appreciate the bicycle coverage you provide here on BikePortland, and I’d be happy to stitch you up a new tool roll if you’d like one!

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  • David November 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Johnathan,

    I’m glad you got your bike back but I’m wondering what you expect to be done about the obvious bike-theft ring that’s ongoing? Are you expecting the police to do their jobs and actually arrest and charge these people so they can be prosecuted? Are you expecting the DA to actually try and convict these people? And are you expecting the judiciary to sentence these people for their undeniable crimes?

    In almost 20 years of riding, there’s one thing I’ve learned; cyclists are sub-citizens. We don’t garner the same rights, privileges or respect as citizens in motor vehicles. That being said, I guard my 6.9 P1 like it’s made of gold because I know, if someone did steal it, the police would take less interest in doing their jobs to recover it than if I were to call in and report someone for texting while driving (which is illegal in TN\GA).

    Before we start blaming the criminals for committing crimes, let’s place the blame where it lies and hold law enforcement accountable for not actually doing their duty and incarcerating and charging these people so they can be tried. You showed us how simple it was – two patrol cars, with two officers each, could have found your bike in less than 30 minutes.

    After all, if no one is going to be punished for committing a crime, where’s the deterrent to follow the law?

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  • q`Tzal November 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Too bad we can’t make some type of VIN# for bike parts. As a buyer you could use an app to check if items are listed as stolen.

    The Number:
    Obviously a painted number can be covered; also it requires manual entry.

    NFC tags could work. My preference would be to epoxy them to the inside of frame tubes but metal does block the signal a lot. On the up side the cost of tags is below $0.40 in rolls of 2000 (1) so this could be a justifiable expenditure for a small quantity builder like so many in Portland.

    QR Codes are fun.
    With a 6 character code limit (2) the size can be limited to the absolute minimum size (3) even with the error correction cranked up to full (4).
    Point being that a QR code of minimum bit code size could be applied to any part down to 5mm in physical image size. (5)
    This means it could be applied to almost anything: frame, rims, pedals, cranksets, seat posts, handlebars, lights, fenders, cassettes, forks.

    The Application:
    A stamped metal plate can be removed and could be too large however it’s absence is telling. Also they could be exceptionally ugly.

    Stickers or anything adhered to the exterior is also prone to easy remove, obscuring and damage; same on the ugly. The all NFC tags I saw were adhesive label style.

    A code stamped directly in to the metal could work. Even if it was damaged or dirty it would be read well enough with full error correction coding to ensure that anything other than very complete removal would fail.
    A solid deep embossing in a part to be painted/coated or laser engraving on bare metal parts would be sufficient and are more than common enough that the price is reasonable.

    I’d really prefer the ease of use of NFC but the size and readability when near or inside so much metal is probably a show stopper.

    Tangents:
    (1) http://www.atlasrfidstore.com/NFC_Tags_NFC_Readers_s/140.htm
    (2) a little more than 280 trillion possible #’s
    (3) so as not require much detail
    (4) I was posting QR Codes at TriMet bus stops linking to the transit tracker years before they did; even with graffiti and damage they all still scanned
    (5) I just printed a series of these from an old printer on paper and got readability down to just under 3mm.

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    • Paul in The 'Couve November 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

      I’ve thought this system looks good
      http://www.alpha-dot.co.uk/cycle/index.html partly because it is pretty difficult to remove, and it is also not obvious that the tag is there without close inspection.

      The main problem I see with it is that not enough police departments and LBSs and bike buyers are going to be expecting, and looking for the tags.

      If it became as common and expected as tagging pets, it would be a good deal I think.

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  • Danke November 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    REGISTER YOUR BIKES WITH PROJECT 529!!!

    If you register your bike with Project 529, when your bike goes unfortunately missing you can alert all riders within a 10 mile radius of where your bike was stolen.

    Vigilantes on the road! That is one step in the process of thwarting bike thieves. I’m all for what Project 529 is doing, and hope all the bike registration services will one day merge to create a huge resource for all bikes.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Oh my…choices, choices! And perhaps others, too? This consumer would appreciate information to make an informed decision amongst them. And yes, please-please-PLEASE expedite merging of at least essential information like serial, make, model and owner contact.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly November 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    What if bike component makers started putting serial numbers on parts? It wouldn’t have to be all of them to start making a difference and it would differentiate one brand over another, helping sales.

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  • TOM November 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I used to frequent a flea market on Stark near Gresham. Up until recently there was a bike seller in residence.
    Some of the bikes for sale were not very old and were selling CHEAP. It was tempting, but I will NOT knowingly buy a suspected stolen bike.
    One seller informed me that the market management had been notified (now under new management) and they were unconcerned. Also that the local police (Gresham) check out the market and left said bike seller alone.
    There was 1 carbon Specialized for small money … I wrote down most details (couldn’t really flip it over to get serial) and came back to BP.O to check stolen bike listings.
    They did show one recently stolen in OCity. I contacted the owner, but the OCity police had actually found his.

    We gotta watch out for each other.

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    • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      (couldn’t really flip it over to get serial)

      Why not?

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  • TOM November 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Now that the PPD/courts won’t have to spend soo much time and money chasing down grass smokers (see yes on 92 commercials) , I ASSUME that they will now have more time/funds to deal with property crimes ?

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  • TOM November 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Alan 1.0
    (couldn’t really flip it over to get serial)
    Why not?
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    the seller was standing there holding on to it …and he locked it when I was leaving. He didn’t want it to be stolen (re-stolen ?)

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    • Alan 1.0 November 6, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      I’ve purchased three used bikes in the past year. None of the sellers batted an eye when I said I was going to run the serial numbers, and none came up stolen. I’d be very suspicious of any seller that wouldn’t let me check the serial number. But hey, you were already suspicious of that guy. 😉

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  • TOM November 7, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Alan 1.0 I’d be very suspicious of any seller that wouldn’t let me check the serial number. But hey, you were already suspicious of that guy. 😉

    It was a current model of a $3000 bike that the seller (fence ?) wanted $600 for. It was in “near perfect” condition, almost looks like it was taken from a store. I had watched tweekers roll in bikes for him to sell.

    They also offered me a current model Fuji road bike for 130 that was barely used.

    The whole scene was pretty obvious. His mechanic looked like he’d just come from a Springwater camp, and was busy pulling parts off other bikes (in plain sight)

    This was all happening at a flea market where the seller was paying for his space and the local police were unconcerned , BUT the FBI/Govt agents cruise in there now and then looking for pirate DVD’s.

    I had asked him in the past if I could check a serial number. He answered “oh, you don’t need to, we already do that, they are all clean”. Made me wonder if they are NON-PDX bikes brought here to sell ?
    (or he was just lying)

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  • Daniel November 7, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    It’s easy for people who’ve never had to worry about their own shelter to dismiss people who have to do it every day.

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  • Caesar November 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Ken Southerland
    In scanning this thread I don’t see anyone who has brought up the fact that to call this bike “stolen” is a real stretch. Jonathon, you left your bike *unlocked* for hours in a public space. It’s not that I don’t have sympathy, but to call its disappearance a theft is a bit of a stretch. Yes, you or I, would have, had we had the time, tried to locate it’s owner or locked it and left a note or something. But if I were a homeless person who stumbled on that, I would just say *sweet*! Score! And take it back to my humble abode.

    Ken, the presence or absence of a lock on a bike standing alone in a public space (or any space) in no way determines whether or not removal of that bike by anyone not the owner (or without the owners’ explicit or implicit permission) commits theft. So, yes, your hypothetical homeless person thinking “sweet, score!” upon finding an unlocked bike on the corner is indeed stealing that bike if and when he/she rides away on it. Absence of a lock did not make Jonathan’s bike fair game to the first stranger walking by, any more than me leaving my car unlocked with the keys in the ignition implies that the car is available for donation to whoever sees it and wants it.

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    • bob meier January 28, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Locked or unlocked a theft is a theft. A bikeowner should lock their bike with a strong lock to a secure anchor-something that can’t be broken off or uprooted-you have shown a naivete about bike ownership. Bikes get stolen all the time which is why i ride the cheapest bike I can buy-at least I won’t be too much upset when it is stolen. It’s a shame people steal bikes but they do and the reason is irrelevant. Also-in a bad situation-bad neighborhood or just not a good feeling about the spot-take the time to find a good place to lock-out of sight if necessary. Also-the more desirable your bike is the more likely it will be stolen. There are people who steal bikes in order to sell them. I ride a $100 WalMart bike- it has been stolen about six times in the past 20 years. I just walk to WalMart and buy another one-I don’t feel good when it’s stolen, but I learned my lesson in the 1970s with an expensive Motobecane(showing my age here.) It actually had an expensive Kryptonite lock on- they couldn’t remove the bike or lock so they stripped the bike of everything but the frame. I’m not saying it’s your fault the bike was stolen-I’m saying learn from your lesson.

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  • Dave Guettler November 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Dude! Unlocked for a couple hours??? You were trying to give it away- how nice of you!

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  • Joe November 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    glad you got your rig back in one piece. waterfront is like a bike pick n pull 🙁 Portland needs to stand up and make sure these rip offs get the point. DON’T touch it if its not yours!

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