Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 2nd, 2015 at 9:31 am
The Portland Police Bureau swung into action after hearing about a suspected bicycle chop shop on the Springwater earlier this week.
On Tuesday we highlighted an encampment just south of the Ross Island Bridge that was overflowing with bike parts and frames. The person who sent us photos for our story suspected that the parts and frames were stolen. After hearing about the encampment a day later, Portland Police Bureau Officer Dave Sanders and his partner Officer Bryant went to take a closer look.
They rolled up on ATVs and filmmaker Guthrie Straw (who you might have met at the Bike Theft Summit) just happened to already be there capturing B-roll for his upcoming documentary on stolen bikes.
In Guthrie’s footage below you can see the officers rifling through the parts. They found one frame (out of six) that was confirmed to be stolen. Also among the parts was a partially cut cable lock and various tools used to take apart the bikes.
In a follow-up interview with Officer Sanders, we learned the camp was abandoned when the officers rolled up. Sanders said the size and sophistication of the camp — and the fact that it was so brazen — was unprecedented. “The camp itself was pretty elaborate, like nothing I’d ever seen.”
In addition to what’s in the video, Sanders said they also found a pair of 18-inch bolt cutters.
Following the police investigation, the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau will come through and clean out the remaining parts and trash.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story attributed a comment about the legality of searches to Officer Sanders. We erred in that attribution and regret the mistake.
UPDATE, 3:52 pm: I contacted Officer Sanders to make sure we had the facts straight in terms of the legality of searching this encampment. He said (as I originally reported) that the PPB is not required to obtain a search warrant on abandoned camps that are on public property. While search and seizure rules are complicated and depend on the “totality of the circumstances present,” Sanders added that they also did not obtain a warrant because there were no security measures in place on the tarps or enclosures, “that would imply someone was residing here and wanted others to stay out.” The fact that the frames were laying out in the open also allowed the PPB to seize them. This particular site was also posted with a notice by the Parks department that everything left on 12/31/14 would be hauled away and disposed of.