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Bike theft ‘kingpin’ admits crime to local TV reporter

Posted by on March 24th, 2015 at 2:59 pm

KGW, Portland’s NBC affiliate station, is the latest local media outlet to take a closer look at Portland’s bike theft problem.

KGW Reporter Nina Mehlhaf took a deep dive into the issue. Her story, Chop Shops: Suspects stockpile bikes at homeless camps aired on the news last night and is now available on their website.

The focus of the story was a man named Leroy Parsons. Mr. Parsons is well-known among local police officers for his love of bikes. The only problem is he sometimes loves bikes that don’t belong to him. He’s been referred to as “the kingpin” of bike theft in downtown Portland and his mugshot is on a hot-list that PPB officers share with local bike shops. Last night KGW reported that, “Parsons has been convicted of 15 felonies and 22 misdemeanors for methamphetamine, stolen bikes, and burglary, among other charges.”

Mehlhaf and her crew got some up-close and candid footage of Parsons, who didn’t seem to mind the cameras at all. Then, just when I thought he’d claim completele innocence when asked if he was a bike thief, he cracked. Parsons looked right into the camera and offered a pretty stunning contradiction and confession:

parsons

I’m no legal expert, but I can’t help but wonder if such a bold admission of guilt could be used against by the DA the next time the cops catch him with a stolen bike.

Check out the story at KGW.com.

Stay tuned for some big news about our Bike Theft Task Force in the next few days. Oh, and while Mr. Parsons is still free, the PPB recently arrested another one of the most prolific downtown bike thieves. We’ll have that story soon.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Lester Burnham
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Lester Burnham

Wow…way to go Parsons. You really boost my faith in humanity.

Bella Bici
Guest

After viewing that video, I’m just boiling with the basest of human emotions about bike thieves, or any thief in general.

Will anything change?!?!!

scott
Guest
scott

Nothing will change. The way this is being addressed is ridiculous. Does anyone see logic in jailing and fining a homeless person? The jailing costs money and how do you think he would pay the fine if he decides to pay it? The percentage of kleptomania is less than 10% across the board and there is nothing to suggest any link between kleptomania and homelessness. If anyone wants this problem to be addressed, the solution will have nothing at all to do with bike theft enforcement.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

What is the solution?

scott
Guest
scott

For America as a whole to be less afraid of more/new taxes.

I am definitely in favor of corporations and the ultra-wealthy paying their fair share (which is more than they pay now by far), but even if we close those loopholes and get what megacorps and the ultra-wealthy ought to be putting in the 99% is going to feel an increase in their tax as well.

Better infrastructure, better mental health and outreach, fewer prison and a better understanding of where crime comes from are all going to cost money. And this is America. So it’s going to cost a lot of money. There is no way around it.

For what it is worth I am also in favor of increasing the minimum wage and making sure everyone makes enough to live on.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Violence as a deterrent, for one.

If someone is caught stealing a bike there needs to be enough of a deterrent to prevent that from happening again. Clearly, with all of those convictions…they ‘system’ is not a deterrent.

If I caught someone trying to pilfer one of my bikes, they would think twice about the next one they thought about stealing.

dan
Guest
dan

Nice to see this issue is receiving media attention. Hopefully that helps make it a front burner issue for the police. Jonathan, thanks for leading the charge on covering the Eastside chopshops.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is getting major attention now, and things could go downhill really fast. It isn’t hard to imagine a group of vigilantes taking out their frustrations on these chop shops. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

dan
Guest
dan

IDK, anyone invested enough to take violent action has known about those chop shops for much longer than they’ve been getting media coverage, and as far as I know, nothing of the sort has happened yet.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

There was that guy who got out of his Subaru and fired at a pair of guys in sleeping bags a few years ago. So technically it’s already happening.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

maybe that is exactly what is needed. I don’t think it has been tried yet.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Death to bike thieves and all that, right?

Tom
Guest
Tom

37 convictions and still on the steet? I would think the judge might give a little longer sentence after the 14th felony. And his parole officer needs to be held accountable for not doing his job.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

nobody with that many felonies should be free in society… sorry, but they’re obviously a detriment…

was carless
Guest
was carless

Don’t they have those GPS ankle tracking things? At least they should keep him under house arrest or something. Home -> Job -> back home.

Joseph E
Guest

Does he have a permanent home or a job?
It sounds like he may be homeless, and his job appears to be bike theft.

scott
Guest
scott

You seem to have not watched the video or understand the cycle of homelessness.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I get your argument (and it has some merit), but maybe this is not the guy you want to stand behind to get your point across.

scott
Guest
scott

I’ve made this point many times in many articles on this subject. I’m not standing behind anyone. Especially not the person handpicked by the local Portland media to perfectly embody all of your fears.

scott
Guest
scott

You would prefer to pay to jail this person forever instead of have taxes going to treatment and rehab?

George H.
Guest
George H.

Yes. This person cannot be and does not want to be rehabilitated. The cost of all the stuff he steals and the cost of repeatedly arresting/trying him likely exceeds annual costs for long-term incarceration.

If he said in the KGW article “I want help and want to be clean” we’d feel otherwise. But he made it clear that he steals, has no remorse, and will continue stealing.

People cannot be saved if they don’t want it. Society needs to be protected from people like this.

scott
Guest
scott

You literally have no idea what incarceration costs in comparison to rehabilitation.

Your comment also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of drug addiction, mental health issues, homelessness, and the interaction of those factors.

I very much encourage you to read up and do the math. I am confident that you will see that you are incorrect.

Jail pays millionaires. It does not fix criminal behavior or deter criminal behavior.

scott
Guest
scott

In addition, had he said that he wants to be rehabilitated, I would be shocked if the news would put that on the air. They don’t benefit from that type of cry for help in a story like this.

George H.
Guest
George H.

Your posts are getting very meta. Are you actually Leroy Parsons?

scott
Guest
scott

I don’t understand the reference.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Can you put a price on someone not being sexually assaulted? It reads like this guy has committed other crimes beside property crime. How do we figure what preventing more of those crimes is “worth”?

scott
Guest
scott

That’s just it though. How many times has he been through the system with zero change in his behavior. It’s not working the way we are doing it. We need to try something different.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I agree, but some here are arguing that the “something different” is actually keeping him in jail this time.
15 felony convictions is a bit ridiculous. That seems to be WAY past the line of “oh I just screwed up a few times and made a couple of bad decisions”.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Actually I would prefer to see many fewer first time offenders in prison and more 37 time offenders instead to take their place. The cost to keep him in prison would likely be much less than the continued cost that he is incurring on society. This is not the case for most 1st time non-violent drug offenders, who should have been sent to rehab not prison.

But who I would really like to see in prison is his parole officer. How could the PO not notice the large stash of slolen bike parts during his site visit, or the company he keeps, or the meth paraphernalia that the police were obviously able to notice. The PO is the biggest thief of all, taking tax payer money while failing to do his job. Its call fraud. I’d love to know who this parole officer is so I could write a nice letter to his boss pointing out the PO’s utter complete incompetence.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

… and if this guy’s same sounds familiar, it is because his pitbull attacked and killed another dog on the MAX back in Oct 2014. http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/10/streetcar_dog_attack_new_detai.html

J_R
Guest
J_R

Wow. It’s been more than an hour and the apologists have yet to comment. Isn’t time we were reminded that these poor homeless people were probably given the bikes or found them for free at bike shop dumpsters…. Yeah, right.

lyle w.
Guest
lyle w.

You mean HOUSELESS people?!?!?

You soulless, hateful little man. How DARE YOU?!?!

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

The correct term is UN-HOUSED, you unfeeling ogre!

scott
Guest
scott

You three are awesome! Man, you want to get together and laugh at special needs kids?? Or maybe we could go to a place and find women that do the same work as us and show them our paychecks?? KA-BOOOOM!! So rad!!! Maybe we can go somewhere and enjoy white privilege while at the same time acting like there is no such thing as institutionalized racism?!?

J_R
Guest
J_R

So, until special needs kids are always treated appropriately, racism is banished, and sexism disappears, I should just put up with vandalism, theft, and physical threats because of my “white privilege?”

scott
Guest
scott

Yes.

dan
Guest
dan

I’m not white, ***portion of comment deleted by moderator***!

David Lewis
Guest

Our shop (Veteran Bicycle Co.) is one block away from that camp, and we had a bike stolen last month, two weeks after moving in.

Charles
Guest

you left it unlocked on the back of a subaru, prius, or more elite hybrid? Seriously tho’: some people have mentioned GPS-ing his ankle and a more effective parole/probation officer, maybe they can get him off meth without the expense of prison or before a sneakier vigilante invests the price of many bullets in hooking him up with some sort of suicidal OD? Does that happen from meth, how much Brian Cranston’s Breaking Bad does one need to watch to learn …?

George H.
Guest
George H.

You can’t “get him off the meth” because he’s made it clear he has no interest in getting off it. Rehab only works for people who want to get clean….

scott
Guest
scott

Tell me about why he would want to get off meth George H.?

Let’s say he does get on the waiting list for a state sponsored treatment facility. Then let’s say he does make it all the way through his waiting period without going to jail and enters treatment. State sponsored treatment, mind you so they do the bare minimum because that is what that they can afford, not because they are bad, but because they are woefully underfunded because, unlike prisons, treatment and mental health facilities have not been privatized because the people going to these types of facilities can’t be used as a labor force to generate huge profits and make investors interested.

Now, he makes it out of his treatment, clean as a whistle, and is deposited right back on the streets he just attempted to leave. How does he avoid the triggers that remind him of his past? Where does he live? Where does he work? Who would hire him? What motivation does he have to stay on the straight and narrow? Are you going to give him a second chance George H.?

I am making no apologies for people who steal. I am also not saying that lawbreaking should go unpunished. All I am saying is that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is lunacy. That is what we are doing. The problem is not being addressed, only the symptoms. So just like the common cold, it is not cured, and we will continue to experience the symptoms.

George H.
Guest
George H.

I’m not interested in your Polyanna-ish hypothetical scenarios. I’m interested in getting perennial bad seeds like Leroy Parsons removed from society.

scott
Guest
scott

There is no way to remove someone from society. That’s the rub. So if you feel like you are a better and more functional part of society, it is your job to bring others up. Not think that you can discard them or act like they are not there.

spencer
Guest
spencer

I ride by that camp in the video daily, and the pile of wheels, frames, and parts shows a constant influx of parts. I for one have given up on taking a stand, as it got me assaulted. I don’t want to get disemboweled over a bicycle (as happened recently in SE Portland).

Arrests should be made for littering, public urination, camping, and the resultant shakedown would result in the camps members being arrested for “holding”. The current situation is so ridiculous it sounds like Fred and Carrie wrote it for Portlandia.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

We can’t do that! Someone’s feelings will get hurt. I have total faith this new task force will solve the problem without offending a single person.

Billy Cooley
Guest
Billy Cooley

I’ve known Leroy Parsons for well over 10 years….He has been stealing bikes and electronics for as long as I’ve known him…however he is in no way a kingpin…his status as a known sex offender and overall volatile and irreliable nature has always made him nothing more than a two bit thief….If your interested in finding the upper levels of this operation look to SE Portland Pawn shops that are run or associated with Eastern European immigrants.

scott
Guest
scott

There are no registered sex offenders named Leroy Parson in the national database.

Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
Guest

Drop me an email on this, if you don’t mind …

Mike Quiglery
Guest
Mike Quiglery

Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” These guys steal bikes because that’s where the money is. Everybody wants to lock ’em up and throw away the key, but don’t want to pay for it. Hence the revolving door.

dan
Guest
dan

Wow, a buddy on a snowboarding forum just posted this property labeling product – half-millimeter “microdots” that adhere to the property and bear a unique PIN that’s readable by law enforcement: http://www.antitheftdots.com/AboutTheTechnology.aspx. They say you apply dozens of dots to each item you want to protect. Could be a way to label bike components as well as just frames.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I looked at the site you provided. Is scanning for the microdots part of a regular process used by law enforcement agencies? If it is, I might consider it. I didn’t get my pets “chipped” until vets, humane societies and animal control agencies pretty much all had scanners and used them.

dan
Guest
dan

Yeah, I think that the scanning by LE is the chicken/egg part of this solution. I have no idea how common it is now.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

I saw this product in the news report on stolen bikes on I think it was channel 6. What a genius product, I’ll be looking in to it for sure.

scott
Guest
scott

Portland’s approach to this is like handing a Band-Aid to someone who has just been attacked by Jaws.

This task force will get one or two peoples bikes back. There will be applause. Nothing will change.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Jaws the fish or Jaws the James Bond villain?

scott
Guest
scott

Either.

TJ
Guest
TJ

Is it not that the relatively high availability of bikes to steal partially enables the lifestyle choices of thieves like Parsons? The quickest solution may not be rehabilitation but rather prevention.

Without victim blaming, we know how most bikes are stolen:
-poor locks
-poor visibility
-outside overnight
-car/truck racks

Granted, burglaries / basements or garage invasions are harder to predict and thwart, though measures can be taken to prevent such crimes.

Bike thefts aren’t a new occurrence. Maybe not even a new epidemic… themes of significant film, etc.

jeff
Guest
jeff

No, most bikes are stolen by thieves.

jeff
Guest
jeff

homeless camps under the Hawthorne were all gone this morning. Nice to see actually, as that area was becoming unusable by most people, the sidewalks were covered, but wonder where they all went with all of the stolen bike parts.

dan
Guest
dan

… And they’re back, complete with nice new bikes strewn in front of the tents.

David Lewis
Guest

I just rode around and it was eerily still. Even the trash was gone!

dan
Guest
dan

I was disappointed to see this morning that the tents, the bikes and the trash are all back.

99th Monkey
Guest
99th Monkey

Here in Kenton we have had a lot of bike-parts theft recently where I live. The lofts where I live have staples in the courtyard for residents to lock up their bikes rather than carry them upstairs. WRONG! With few exceptions they quickly loose wheels, brakes, saddles, etc and then the owners just leave them as warning for others not to lock up there. I recently spoke to one of the homeless in this area when he was sorting through our recycle bins to pull out the bottles and cans for their deposit value. He told me he knows who is doing it and will attempt to locate his current camp. He also advised me that the main “gang” that runs most of the Downtown Portland bike thefts is the “Sik Boys”….

Justin Gast
Guest
Justin Gast

At home, while mowing the lawn, I’ve noticed shady people look into my open garage at mine and my wife’s bikes. All I have to say is “try it.” I’ll club you at the knees, which will then make it very difficult for you to ride a bike.

Nothing gets me more fired up than theft. An item(s) I’ve worked my ass off to obtain and you think you’re going to take it from me because you “need the money.” I don’t think so. GET A JOB!!!!

This is why I lock my bike up with two Kryptonite U-locks and always remove all lights and my computer…because, unfortunately, the less than poor only have two ways of obtaining money, scamming it or stealing it. And when I say “less than poor” I mean drug-using homeless individuals, which in many cases are street kids.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Good luck. Thieves are pretty damn good at what they do. If they target you my guess is you won’t know they are there. I built a wall in front of my bikes so that passers-by never see them in the garage. I also get them into the garage as soon as I get home. No hanging outside with a nice bike around. Lastly, I keep the garage door closed as much as possible. To mow the lawn I take out the mower, close the door, mow, open, put it back in, close the door.

Opus the Poet
Guest

What is fueling this is the willingness of people to buy cheap parts from shady people. Stop buying parts that are too cheap to be legit and the problem will go away in a few months. Look at the difference in buying used parts for cars and the number of stolen vehicles stolen for parts, compared to the number of stolen bikes dismantled for parts.

AlphaMonk
Guest
AlphaMonk

A lot of talk of violence. Classy.

If this news story were about a bum stealing watches and people in the Rolex PDX blog comments went ape about how thieves need to be beaten or shot, a casual reader might make some judgements about the character of the fancy-watch-wearing community.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Not really. I think one can still realize that the threat of potential violence is a deterrent, regardless of what is being stolen.

It’s not about who is being stolen from, it is about who is doing the stealing and what will stop them.

AlphaMonk
Guest
AlphaMonk

That’s not endorsement for or approval of meth enthusiasts, sex offenders, or bike thieves.