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The battle against bike theft in Portland has begun

Posted by on November 13th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

theft-suspect

I had a long conversation with this
man under the Burnside Bridge last week.
He’s a bike theft suspect well-known
to the PPB.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

Portlanders are rising up to fight the growing scourge of bike theft.

From the many sources I’m tracking, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, business owners, and other agencies and community leaders are taking the bull by the horns.

And it’s a big bull.

Through a mix of official enforcement actions and old-fashioned, grassroots neighborhood organizing both offline and through social media, bike thieves are coming up against a harsh reality: We are sick and tired of how out-of-control this problem has gotten and a feeling of “enough is enough!” has reached a boiling point in Portland.

After getting my bike stolen — and then taking it back — earlier this month, I’ve been learning as much as I can about the local bike theft scene. I’ve reached out to various players (including the alleged thieves themselves on one occasion) and have followed the issue closely. In the last few weeks I’ve noticed several separate actions taking place and figured it was time to share them here on the Front Page.

Here are some updates and ongoing efforts we’re following:

A well known bike theft suspect (I know his face from a flyer with mug shots being passed around by PPB Central Precinct) told me last week that ODOT has cleared the encampment of people living under I-5 east of the floating portion of the Eastbank Esplanade and just north of the Burnside Bridge (where I recovered my bike). I met this guy (in photo, above) after he noticed me peeking under a tarp that covered a pile of bikes that were parked between I-5 and the Burnside Bridge stairway. (At first he was angry with me, but as we kept talking he calmed down and answered all my questions.)

———

I spoke with Deputy District Attorney Vivian Godsey (Lloyd District/North Precinct) last week. She has been in contact with ODOT, TriMet, and the PPB about the bike theft issue. She told me her office, “Will keep working on these issues and areas.”

———

Bike shop owners play a big role in this equation. Molly Cameron, owner of Portland Bicycle Studio at NW Raleigh and 14th, works right in the heart of a place where there are a lot of bikes being handled by people who live on the street. Cameron updated friends on Facebook about her efforts:

“I’m in touch with and close with folks at ODOT, PPB and our neighbors and neighborhood group. The cops and ODOT have been very pro-active in the last 2 weeks which has been a relief. The chop shop underneath the Vaughn st. 405 on/off ramp in NW (and right under most of the freeway pillars in NW) was completely out of control.”

———

Another shop in northwest Portland, Western Bikeworks, has also been actively working to stymie thieves. I’ve gotten a lot of information from a Western employee who is working closely with PPB Officer David Sanders (who I profiled a few weeks ago) and other bike shops in the area. The employee is aware of bike theft suspects and passes along everything she sees and knows to Officer Sanders.

———
rangers

Rangers Kalivas (L) and Williams are ready to help.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Parks & Recreation rangers are on the case. I ran into Rangers Kalivas and Williams one morning while snooping around the Esplanade and was happy to hear they are well-versed in the bike theft issue. Kalivas said more staff and resources are needed to address the problem.

———

A spokesperson for ODOT Region 1 told me that they manage 200 parcels in the Portland area and many of them are the sites of illegal camping. He said the agency is “Certainly going to get engaged on this issue.”

———

Residents of Creston-Kenilworth have been using the neighborhood-based online social networking tool Nextdoor to tackle bike theft. Working in cahoots with PPB Neighborhood Response Team officers, there was an arrest made and a truck used to steal bikes in the neighborhood was recently impounded. Here’s the recap just posted to Nextdoor:

stolen-chernoff

———

Portlander John Howe regularly spotted what he thinks are “bike chop shops” during his rides through northwest Portland. On Wednesday he was delighted to see PPB officers “tearing into one of the tarps and pulling out bikes and parts.” Later that day he saw a police car stopped at the location and chatted with the officer inside. According to a post by Howe on Facebook, “She [the officer] said they are gonna start doing more about bike theft and the “chop shops”!”

Howe’s post started a comment thread and there’s now a meeting being planned. Stay tuned for details once a date and location is set.

———
Springwater Bike Chop Shop

Bicycles in an illegal camp on the Springwater Corridor path.
(Photo Roger Goldingay)

And last but not least is Roger Goldingay and his work in southeast Portland. Goldingay is the owner of the Cartlandia food cart pod on the Springwater Corridor path and SE 82nd (and the one on N Mississippi and Skidmore). He is tackling the bike theft issue on two fronts: By working with city agencies to clear out the growing number of illegal camps on the Springwater path and by putting together a separate effort to thwart bike theft and other residential property thefts in nearby neighborhoods. Goldingay has meetings for each issue on the calendar and has firmed up attendance by the Multnomah County DA’s office, a property crime specialist at the PPB, Portland Parks & Recreation, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and others. We’re planning to attend these meetings and report back.

All the above has come together just in the past two weeks, which shows me that Portland is rising up against this problem in the way we always tackle tough issues around here: Through a mix of citizen and agency-led activism, collaboration, and creativity.

Bike theft is a complicated problem whose tendrils reach into several other even more complex and sensitive social issues. It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to make a significant dent. And as people get frustrated with the problem, it will be very important to remember that people’s lives are more important than stolen bikes — even the people who many of us accuse of stealing. I’ve never been comfortable with the “Death to bike thieves!” mantra and I think we need to remember that people who live in these camps deserve our respect and often have no other place to go.

There’s much more to come on this topic. We’re following it all as closely as possible so stay tuned to the Front Page for announcement of a Bike Theft Summit and please keep sending in your updates and news tips so we can help connect all the dots.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

94 Comments
  • bryan hance November 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Count me in, obviously. 😀

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  • Joe November 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    great news!

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  • Tom November 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Subscriptionless GPS tracking is coming. http://www.iotera.com/. It would be nice if you could register your GPS tracked bike as an official bait bike. Seems like less work for the authorities. Rather than have dedicated bait bikes that they have to move around all the time, just use personal bikes.

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  • Krista November 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Talk of this has really made me look at the camps more closely than before. Springwater trail just south of Ross Is Bridge seems to be an easy place for storing them with steep cliffs, no car access, and the river as a barrier. But now that the leaves are falling off the trees, there are quite a lot of bikes being revealed. And it seems more camps have popped up in the last month. It may be those who just relocated here from farther north on the trail. Hope PPB looks into this too.

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    • Todd Hudson November 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I paddle up the Holgate Channel a couple of times a week. The number of camps at the water’s edge has grown quite a bit. And yes, lots of bikes. The amount of garbage they leave down there is saddening – when the waters rise in winter/spring, tons of refuse will be washed into the river.

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  • Charles Ross November 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    A bike share system here in Portland would go a long way towards eliminating the theft program. @ $100 a year: Check your bike out in one location, ride to another, check it in. You are done.

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    • Travis November 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      I don’t think the majority of bike thefts that happen are due to lack of transportation though.

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      • John Lascurettes November 13, 2014 at 3:58 pm

        No, but a majority of them are because you’re leaving you steed locked up an unattended. The point of the Bike Share bikes is:
        – They’re locked in a dock which is harder bust than a U-Lock
        – They’re not yours to worry about once you check it back in
        – If a cop sees one in a camp, he can be darn confident it’s stolen without any accusations of harassment.* **

        * I say this based on my own assumption that retired bike share bikes are rarely resold (but rather parted or recycled but he company) and would certainly be visually altered in some significant way before being sold to the public to differentiate them from fleet bikes.

        ** then again, the harassment might be that homeless person just might possibly have a membership to bike share

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        • meh November 14, 2014 at 7:19 am

          Doesn’t keeping the bike for extended periods up the cost. A homeless person with limited means would be very cognizant of the costs of keeping a bike share bike.

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        • JAT in Seattle November 14, 2014 at 9:56 am

          BUT most of us really like OUR bikes – they’re lighter, faster, fit better, in (maybe usually…) better repair. You cannot tell me that most people here on this forum don’t have a personal relationship with their bikes – that a bike to us is not a commodity, or more accurately: you can try telling me that, but I won’t believe it.

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          • John Lascurettes November 14, 2014 at 2:26 pm

            Yeah, but I wouldn’t lock my bike up outside of many places for the duration of a concert or long movie. I have the luxury of having pretty damned secure parking at work, so I ride a bike that I would be nervous about locking up in those situations. Outside a restaurant or bar where I can check on it regularly or through a window, no problem.

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            • John Lascurettes November 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

              … Just saying that for those situations where I don’t want to lock up my own bike, or where I happen to not have it, bike share is great. I got to experience it this summer in Minneapolis and it was quite handy to have their system around to get around town and never worry about the bike security.

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  • TOM November 13, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    >> By working with city agencies to clear out the growing number of illegal camps on the Springwater path

    REALLY ??? I rode through there last Monday and the number of camp between 82nd & Foster seem to multiplying every day. bikes in parts in many of them.

    Homeless groups blocking the path , garbage dumped all over.

    Geeze , put a dumpster over there and maybe some will use it (they’ve already left a porta-potty for ’em)

    PPD only seems to patrol on nice days when they can ride their quads.

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    • Eric November 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Thats such a sketchy stretch of trail, especially in the darkness of early morning/late evening. I avoid it as much as possible.

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  • Peter R. November 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Jonathan, you say “…..I think we need to remember that people who live in these camps deserve our respect and often have no other place to go”. I very politely, but very strongly have to disagree with you. They do not deserve our respect. Respect is something that has to be earned, and quite frankly these camps are disgusting, thieve ridden dens of illicit acts.
    I do not have the answers to “help” them, but thievery, property destruction, and all the other associated issues with these camps is totally unacceptable.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      We can disagree Peter R.

      The thing is, “these camps” are not all identical, nor are the people who live inside them. I have no doubt that — like the rest of society — there are all types of people and all types of different behaviors going on. Yes, there is crime happening and many of the camps are really disrespectful of their surroundings (both human and natural) — but I’m not ready to paint with such a large brush.

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      • Mike November 13, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        “… important to remember that people’s lives are more important than stolen bikes”
        I wonder if you would feel any differently if you did not recover your bike? – especially if that was your only bike and sole source of transportation.
        Being a victim is very different than being a near-victim.

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        • Karl Dickman November 13, 2014 at 11:47 pm

          You know, I didn’t think when I got up this morning that I would have to defend the principle that the lives of human beings are more important than objects. I’m said to see that there are those among us who don’t believe in such a foundational moral principle.

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          • J_R November 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

            I’ll agree that a life is more important than any of my possessions, but even my old commuter bike is worth more than someone’s dose of meth.

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            • 9watts November 14, 2014 at 8:30 am

              What I was objecting to here is not the need to tackle bike theft head on, but the tendency by some here to collapse homelessness with bike theft and/or drugs. Just as we don’t appreciate others lumping all of us in with the few so-called scofflaws who ‘blow’ stop signs, I don’t think it is fair or useful to lump the houseless people who have no truck with drugs or bike theft in with those (housed or not) who are stealing bikes around this town.

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      • Beth November 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        The tradition I work within teaches that three is a difference between respect and compassion.

        Someone sleeping rough and stealing to get what they need may be well beyond needing or wanting my respect. What they need is compassion — in the form of meaningful and far-reaching changes in every strata of our socio-economic structures — so that their needs are met and they do not have to resport to such desperate chces. Bike theft is a very tiny tip of a very big and deep iceberg. We will not solve poverty and all of its myriad “tentacles” in our lifetime, but neither are we free to desist from our efforts.

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    • 9watts November 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      “these camps are disgusting, thieve ridden dens of illicit acts.”

      Have you had conversations with any of the people living there? Made any attempt to learn what the world looks like to them? Seems kind of an easy thing to toss out when you (I am going to assume) have no idea what circumstances precipitated their living in those conditions.

      I have no tolerance for anyone stealing bikes or bike parts, don’t get me wrong, but to let fly such undifferentiated indictments of large groups of our fellow citizens seems unhelpful and unwarranted. The USA is one of the most unequal countries in the world; I don’t suppose that has anything to do with this.
      http://inequalityforall.com/fact-4/

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      • Adam H. November 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        Why doesn’t the city just build some legitimate camping sites with open shelters, tables, toilets, and garbage cans so these people can stop living under bridge overpasses and making messes? It would be a simple thing to set up temporarily to see how it works out.

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        • 9watts November 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm

          Because in this country the conservatives have managed to seize a much better hold on the narrative by which we conduct our affairs, and doing what you suggest goes against the principles they hold dear: responsibility, self-reliance, hard work, strict father, etc.

          http://georgelakoff.com/
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strict_father_model

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          • Barney November 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm

            Oh, it’s still George Bush’s fault. Well then, that makes sense, NOT!

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            • lyle w. November 13, 2014 at 6:17 pm

              It’s actually Clinton’s fault… thanks Oba– Clinton!!!

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              • Skid November 18, 2014 at 2:43 am

                Actually it’s Reagan’s fault. He made the cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, etc. that created the mentally ill and homeless population. That was the start of it.

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              • Barney November 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm

                Reagan created the mentally ill and homeless? That’s a bit of a stretch. Blame the other guy and take no responsibility seems to be the current approach.

                Were you even a voter in Reagan’s day or did you get that from Media Matters?

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          • davemess November 14, 2014 at 7:47 am

            Yet Multnomah county is heavily “liberal”. Why is that supposedly happening here?

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            • spare_wheel November 14, 2014 at 8:39 am

              The overton window happened.

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            • Adam H. November 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

              It’s all Monsanto’s fault, clearly. /s

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          • Adam H. November 14, 2014 at 10:17 am

            Wow, non sequitur, much?

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            • 9watts November 14, 2014 at 2:03 pm

              Only if you opt not to listen to what I was trying to say. I meant what I wrote sincerely.
              It isn’t the fault of conservatives or George Bush, per se. But we (who may not see the world the same as the above list of characters do) have allowed the debate to be defined by those who see the world through the filter of the conservatives’ moral categories: Moral Bounds, Moral Authority, Moral Essence, Moral Health, Moral Wholeness. To build such facilities (or offer mental health care or anything dignified to people who have lost or never had the means to live indoors) would, in these terms, be viewed as a moral weakness on our part, a ‘rewarding’ of the ‘morally weak behaviors’ by the homeless.

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        • 9watts November 13, 2014 at 3:37 pm

          …and one more really good George Lakoff piece on morality as understood by liberals and conservatives:
          http://www.wwcd.org/issues/Lakoff.html

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        • Todd Hudson November 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          Because nobody wants permanent homeless camps in their neighborhood.

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        • wsbob November 14, 2014 at 12:23 am

          “Why doesn’t the city just build some legitimate camping sites with open shelters, tables, toilets, and garbage cans so these people can stop living under bridge overpasses and making messes? It would be a simple thing to set up temporarily to see how it works out.” Adam H.

          Look to history for ideas about how this idea may work out. Right now, Portland has Dignity Village, and Right2Dream 2. Years back already, there was the weeks long Occupy Portland encampment demonstration, which a considerable number of houseless people gravitated to. In last century’s big depression, there were what was called ‘Hoovervilles’, which are remembered as places where ordinary people put out of work and home because of the crash, camped, working when work was available. Like in Sullivan’s Gulch.

          Sometimes, these kinds of camping sites sort of work out. Still, a rough life. Is having such sites available, enough to persuade people to give up crime, if that’s how they’ve been getting by, in exchange for being able to live there?

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    • spare_wheel November 13, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      “thieve ridden dens of illicit acts”

      in all fairness, some of those acts will be legal next year in OR.

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    • Cairel November 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      How about our compassion then?

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      • Peter R. November 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm

        Bingo. I can be compassionate, even sympathetic, but I respectful. No.

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  • Justin November 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Peter R., my thoughts as well. Respect is earned by producing and contributing, rather than by asking and (in some cases) taking.

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  • Judge Roy B. November 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    How about setting up a ropeshare program for the various vigilante groups while we’re at it?

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    • Adam H. November 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Here’s the sack! But you gotta supply your own doorknobs!

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      • Adam Herstein November 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        Lol, lighten up. It was a quote from a classic Simpsons episode — Homer the Vigilante. I would never beat anyone with a sack of doorknobs.

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        • spare_wheel November 14, 2014 at 8:35 am

          The Simpsons is satire. Joking about beating human beings with a sack of door knobs on a comment thread redolent with bigotry is not satire.

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          • Adam H. November 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

            Judge Roy B’s original post was satirical. I was simply mirroring his sarcasm.

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  • brian sysfail November 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Our collective space in Inner SE has been reclaiming bikes from these camps for about a year now. Surprisingly though none returned to owners because none of the serial numbers recorded.

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    • bryan hance November 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      … which is exactly why I would like to encourage everybody to pop over to http://www.bikeindex.org and register their serials right now. It’s free. No spam/marketing. Open source, etc.

      -b

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      • METROFIETS November 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm

        529 GARAGE IS ANOTHER PLACE TO REGISTER YOUR BIKE.
        THEY EVEN SUBMIT A POLICE REPORT FOR YOU IF YOUR BIKE IS STOLEN.
        Super stoked that we have more than one place to register.
        The more eyes the better. https://project529.com/garage/

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        • Alan 1.0 November 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm

          It would sure be nice if those two systems would exchange at least the serial numbers of stolen bikes so that anyone reporting a stolen bike to either system would show up on both systems (if they have a serial no.) and anyone checking for a serial would know if it was stolen with a single look-up at either system. That would go for cops as well as buyers.

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    • buny November 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Seems like your collective has found the perfect way to steal bikes…

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    • spare_wheel November 13, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Have you considered that some of the bikes you “reclaimed” were not identified because they were not originally stolen.

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  • Justin November 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Jonathan, thanks for writing on the issue (and everything else).

    Collectively, I wonder what makes sense – what people riding by a camp that looks like a collection of stolen bikes ought to do. Not correct to assume all are stolen, and approaching the pile & persons would not be widely adopted (for various reasons). You’ve written on this discussion in past, and I recall one police raid on a camp where the bike serial numbers were not turning up as stolen…

    Do you think it a good idea for people to photo what they see (as done by the person on Springwater) and send to you? To someone else? Ring police to give them a “don’t know what we have, but looks suspicious”?

    Other ideas?

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    • was carless November 13, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      You can’t really do anything except talk to the people. Are you willing to do that? Its not like thousands of Portlanders don’t pass by these camps every single day – I certainly do. Burden of proof that they are stolen is on the accuser, btw.

      Oh, I suppose you could also call the police and contact the city (mayor, councilmember, whoever) to report them, which probably should be done. But vigilantism? Nah.

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    • sabes November 13, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      It’s pretty safe to say that all the bikes are stolen. People who want to give the chop shops the benefit of the doubt that maybe those 20 bikes in various states of disassembly might be honestly owned by the people running the chop shop are either hopelessly naïve or hopelessly stupid.

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  • Justin November 13, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    …the thinking being if collectively, the participation was high for calling police regarding suspicious looking sites, police would get several calls for some areas, tending to result in more action

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  • Dwaine Dibbly November 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    With the weather turning foul, ridership will drop off and the thieves will leave for nicer weather. The situation will improve, but not necessarily because of enforcement. I hope the “battle” has a positive effect, but it will take some analysis of the statistics to know for sure.

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    • lyle w. November 13, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      I don’t think they’re gonna leave, they’re just gonna turn to car prowling, shoplifting, car theft, etc… and whatever other petty crimes people subsist off when bike theft isn’t an option.

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    • was carless November 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      I don’t know, they have been breaking out the tarps. And a few boats have anchored right offshore along the Springwater, its almost like a mini township growing south of the RI Bridge.

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  • Jess E. Hadden November 13, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    I live in Creston-Kenilworth. I didn’t call the cops when my bike was stolen right off my porch. It wasn’t worth a person’s life. Do y’all know what cops do to homeless people in this city? Ever hear of collective punishment? Get some perspective.

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    • lolzo November 13, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      What’s your address?

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    • J_R November 14, 2014 at 8:30 am

      If the cops really did what you imply (killing or beating homeless people), why do I see so many homeless people in Portland?

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  • lyle w. November 13, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Part of me wonders if the PPB has just made a decision on some level to be hands-off when it comes to bike theft, because they feel that the group of people partaking in it would move to other– arguably more ‘in your face’– crimes, like car-theft or burglary/robbery, if they didn’t have such an apparently endless pipeline of bikes to steal from.

    Their apathy about crimes against cyclists/bike theft has objectively gone way past what could ever be considered coincidence at this point. I feel like a broken record saying that, and I don’t like to sound like a whiner, but it’s just the truth.

    I feel like some of the professional bike thieves out there (the type that carry around angle-grinders, have an ebay account that looks legit, and can put on clothes that look decent and clean themselves up) might decide that it’s a wrap if the heat gets turned up… but an equal number of people would just ride their POS mountain bike five minutes deeper on the springwater every night, and maybe decide breaking into garages, or shoplifting clothes and electronics all day would be preferable.

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    • davemess November 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

      I think the PPB has been hands off to all “minor” theft. We’re seeing a lot of small property crime that is either ignored or just flat our refused when people call the police.
      I”m sure the city will say it is prioritization and that they don’t have enough police officers.

      I’m just saying I don’t think it’s necessarily bike specific. PPB just seems to be spending little time or resources on what they consider “lesser” crimes.

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  • Jon Wood November 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    The homeless camps under the Ross Island Bridge, the tombs, have been there for decades and people who have camped there have been rousted by the police repeatedly, only to re-appear. Same with the camps along the Springwater. The issues of homelessness, untreated mental illness & drug abuse, and bike theft are significant problems that we are not likely to solve soon. I worked in North Clackamas & Brentwood-Darlington and I can tell that there were bike chop shops at houses in the area. The best strategy to deter theft of your bike is to mark/ engrave your bikes and register with one or more anti-theft services like Bike Index, and lock your bikes with one or more U locks. Fwiw, I’ve lost a bike & a wheel to theft. I sympathize with everyone who has had a bike stolen.

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    • davemess November 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

      The camps are definitely more prevalent this year. I am guessing as a result of the busting up of the large Johnson Creek camp.

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  • Gerald Fittipaldi November 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I’ll tell you why so many stolen bikes are low-end bikes. Because people who can’t afford nice bikes also can’t afford quality locks. They end up buying cable locks which thieves can easily cut through.

    Before you dismiss my comment and say, “a u-lock isn’t that expensive,” consider that many people who purchase inexpensive used bikes or department store bikes are struggling to pay rent and may often go to sleep hungry. If they’re a month behind on rent, barely making minimum wage, and struggling on all fronts, it’s not so easy to just go and drop even $30-$40 on a u-lock.

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    • lyle w. November 14, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Very true. Back in my early 20’s, spending $50-60 on a u-lock would have been literally insane. Even though I could have afforded it when my student aid check came in or whatever, my brain just was not wired to look at preventative spending like that.

      Not even close.

      Maybe if you have a little extra money, offer to pitch in halfway for a friend who’s down on their luck, and have them get the next few drinks when you go out, or whatever.

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      • Adam H. November 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

        Seems like a good opportunity for a charity organization. I’m betting that Kryptonite has bulk discounts on U-locks, and they can be purchased and handed out for free to needy cyclists.

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  • K'Tesh November 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I’d still like to see bait bikes left around town to make it a 100% lock that we’re tracking down all the bike thieves and their fences.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate November 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Good! Clean out the camps!

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 13, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Well, if so many Portland cyclists think that bike thieves and chop shops deserve sympathy, respect, compassion, the benefit of the doubt, to not have the police “harassing” them, to not have their stacks of bikes and parts taken away – then perhaps Portland cyclists deserve to have their bikes stolen, off their porches or otherwise.

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    • F.W. de Klerk November 14, 2014 at 7:16 am

      The compassion for criminals here is astounding. No wonder it’s a thriving business. Maybe Portland has rightfully earned the title “America’s Bike Theft Capital” ?

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      • Concordia Cyclist November 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

        F.W. de Klerk: Are you willfully misreading the responses?

        Nobody here has mentioned having compassion towards a crime being committed. The compassion is directed at the situation the homeless find themselves in. Yes, there are folks in that group who may be broken beyond reform and see me as nothing but a mark, but plenty of the homeless got there due to difficult circumstances beyond their control combined with a society with a weak safety net system.

        Plenty of the middle class are one catastrophic health event away from losing their home.

        When you take a step back and look at much of homelessness as a symptom of a larger condition then it is much easier to have compassion towards the individuals caught up in it. I fully understand there are people who choose such a “lifestyle”, but most don’t. And we don’t make it easy for them to get out of it.

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    • spare_wheel November 14, 2014 at 8:51 am

      “if so many Portland cyclists think that bike thieves and chop shops deserve sympathy, respect, compassion, the benefit of the doubt”

      straw man. houseless persons are not all thieves, and not all bikes or bike parts owned by houseless people are stolen.

      “to not have the police “harassing” them”

      i consider police harassment based on socio-economic status to be a far more serious crime than petty theft.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu November 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

        A pile of bikes and parts stashed under tarps in a homeless camp is very likely stolen. A single beater bike being ridden by a homeless person may not be. Police should sweep up the former, not the latter.

        And bike theft in Portland has gone well beyond inconsequential petty theft. If we (the collective We) think otherwise, then we deserve our bike theft problem.

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        • spare_wheel November 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

          i support enforcement and stings but i don’t support singling out a particular demographic.

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          • Middle of the Road guy November 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm

            even if they are more likely to be committing those crimes?

            Sometimes a sense of misplaced equality gets in the way of reality.

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            • 9watts November 15, 2014 at 8:17 am

              The point, MotRg, is you don’t know that they are more likely to be stealing your bike, and besides, even if you could know that you don’t need to know it to make inroads into this matter. Why not focus on the behavior rather than the category of misfortune that landed these people in camps under bridges?
              Driving while black…
              Camping while homeless…

              Distracted drivers is a category, an important one, in our efforts to understand and reduce or eliminate carnage on our streets and roads. Bike thieves is a similarly helpful category. But when you mix homelessness in with it, equate being houseless with stealing bikes, when as Hart pointed out, many/most? people who steal bikes are not houseless, and the majority of houseless people don’t steal bikes, your hunch is not only unhelpful but bigoted and mean.

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              • Middle of the Road guy November 16, 2014 at 10:25 pm

                Does not make it incorrect, though.

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              • 9watts November 17, 2014 at 9:47 am

                Do you take that kind of shotgun approach to other areas of your life?

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  • TOM November 14, 2014 at 7:49 am

    >>I spoke with Deputy District Attorney Vivian Godsey (Lloyd District/North Precinct) last week. She has been in contact with ODOT, TriMet, and the PPB about the bike theft issue. She told me her office, “Will keep working on these issues and areas.”

    “Will keep working on these issues and areas.” ???

    that really seems like a blow-off answer.

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    • GlowBoy November 14, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      It does seem like the DA is the biggest missing link in this problem. And since they are going to stop prosecuting most marijuana offenses (as reported in this week’s Mercury) they should have some extra resources to do it now.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

    What’s missing from this comment thread — and from similar conversations about myriad sensitive issues — is a recognition that it is possible to have a middle ground.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to choose between compassion and enforcement. I absolutely believe that everyone should be treated with dignity and given the benefit of the doubt — but I also think we can’t be afraid to face reality of this situation, enforce laws, and come together around solutions to community livability problems like these encampments have become.

    We need to make illegal activities like bike theft and camping on public property a high priority for the City, but we also need to make sure it’s done in a respectful way. I think that’s possible.

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    • Adam H. November 14, 2014 at 10:52 am

      I agree with this sentiment. I don’t mind the homeless camps unless they are leaving messes, harassing people, or stealing bikes. Being homeless shouldn’t be illegal, but harassment and theft certainly should be.

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    • spare_wheel November 14, 2014 at 11:56 am

      “We need to make illegal activities like…camping on public property a high priority for the City”

      I vehemently disagree.

      The Netherlands and Denmark have absurd rates of bike theft. I hope we are lucky enough to have that “problem” some day.

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  • dan November 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Tangential but somewhat related question: do the various soup kitchens, relief agencies, and food programs provide enough of a food safety net that homeless people are guaranteed food in Portland? In other words, are homeless people stealing bikes to eat, or stealing bikes for disposable income? The second would bother me more than the first.

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    • Tim November 15, 2014 at 1:07 am

      There is a soup kitchen/community service center next to the Fred Meyers on 82nd. This is a major reason you see so many homeless in that vicinity.

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  • TOM November 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    An hour ago I rode Springwater and from Linwood to Foster I counted 19 homeless camps (one was so big that it counted as 3) . Near 82nd they were blocking the trail, just standing there. Saw tall guys pushing kids bikes back to the camps (chop shops ?) lots of bike parts scattered around. Kids trailers loaded with bikes.

    Did not notice ODOT, TriMet, or PPB presence.

    >>I spoke with Deputy District Attorney Vivian Godsey last week. She has been in contact with ODOT, TriMet, and the PPB about the bike theft issue. She told me her office, “Will keep working on these issues and areas.”

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    • Chris November 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Yes, I really hope the Springwater Corridor gets cleaned up. It’s really gone to hell this year and that section around 82nd is downright scary.

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  • Chris November 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Great work Jonathan. Thanks!

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  • hiram November 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Bike thefts are a fact of life. I’ve had 3 bikes stolen, all well locked up;one of them by a roommate, one by fratty college kids(they ripped a sign out of the ground to do it), and one I have no idea. Two of the 3 bikes were def not stolen by anyone homeless.
    To judge an entire group of people on a few ‘bad apples’ is childish, disgusting, shameful, ignorant, and pointless. Why didn’t your article include Prevention 101 ideas like regging your serial numbers, or a breakdown on the easiest locks to compromise, or areas the most thefts occur?
    On top of that, the City Mayor, PBA, PPD, and elitists all treat our homeless population like they are criminals! The bike community isn’t exactly high on their list either. To suggest teaming up with the police and Goldfinger in theirbloodlust to punish a whole population based on their situation expresses a clear lack of understanding what makes Portland great: community and solidarity!
    If there’s anything we should lobby police about, why not something constuctive like cracking down on drunk driving in East Portland, where the running theme is “Who’s your designated kinda swordof drunk driver!?”.

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  • Jon Wood November 19, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    There may be more homeless camps now than they were 5 years ago due to escalating rents and long waiting lists for shelter. I should ride out there and look for myself; but there have been multiple camps along Springwater before. There are two food assistance programs within a mile of the Springwater; the Francis Center to north and the Clackamas Service Center to the south, next to the Johnson Creek Fred Meyer. Clackamas provides several food assistance programs including a meal that a person could use 3, 4, or 5 times a week. We may not have enough inexpensive rental housing units or shelter beds in Portland, but there are plenty of places to eat, and free clothing & bedding is also available to a lesser degree. While there are multiple providers of emergency shelter in and near Downtown, there was no emergency shelter for single & childless adults in Clackamas County a decade ago, and a quick google check indicates that there still isn’t. When there is no shelter for single & childless adults in a county of nearly 400k people, car camping and homeless camps are to be expected. Clackamas County has nothing like the alcohol & drug treatment programs for homeless a & d users. The Springwater Corridor is sort of a no persons land; it is a city of Portland park partly located in unincorporated Clackamas County & Multnomah County; so when more people are homeless, the corridor is a refuge. One idea that I haven’t seen discussed is to make overtures to people camping out and ask them to help bike theft victims. Homeless people have lost bikes to theft also.

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  • Jon Wood November 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Reagan didn’t start deinstitutionalizing indigent mentally ill people, but he took part in defunding proposed community based programs that might have made deinstitutionalization work, or at least work better. http://www.salon.com/2013/09/29/ronald_reagans_shameful_legacy_violence_the_homeless_mental_illness/

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  • Josh Chernoff January 3, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I’m almost 100% sure I just called 911 on the guy in your photo for car prowling on Clinton and 19th. He was looking in to the window of this car and then wiggled the handle to see if it would open right then he looked up and seen me and started to acted tuff. I called him a few choice words. “I’m sure we he super offended :p ” and he shouted back & ran. I later got a back from the police saying that they have been chasing the guy and have failed to find him after he managed to ditch them at the plaid on division. I think he’s going to jail for awhile if they catch him. well I hope at least.

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