under the Burnside Bridge. He asked to pose with
these bolt-cutters, which PPB officers photographed
as evidence prior to arresting him.
(Photo: Portland Police Bureau)
The Portland Police have nabbed one of our city’s most prolific bike thieves: 29-year old Johnathan Marcel Dubouis. Dubouis was arrested on Sunday night, just about 24 hours after he appeared in security camera footage stealing a woman’s bike in southwest Portland.
On Saturday evening, KGW-TV ran a story about a bike theft that happened in front of the Multnomah Athletic Club in Goose Hollow. The segment aired footage from the club’s security camera that showed a man committing the theft. His long red hair was unmistakable for those of us that know Dubouis from his previous activities.
Back in November 2014 I recovered my own bike from underneath the I-5 overpass adjacent to the Eastbank Esplanade. With my bike firmly in hand I rode past some people who live under the freeway near the Hawthorne Bridge. As I did, Dubouis poked his head up. I knew his face from a “hot sheet” of known bike thieves the PPB had sent around to local bike shops.
Dubouis noticed me as I rode slowly past because I was ghost-riding a bike with one hand. Still upset at having my bike stolen, I asked him what he and others were doing with so many bikes and bike parts. He said they were just fixing up bikes that people people donate to them. When I told him mine had been stolen and I was suspicious that perhaps he knew something about it, he became upset and told me to leave. So I did; but not before hearing him rattle off a bunch of things about my bike. He was listing its features and components as if to impress me with his bike knowledge (instead, it just confirmed for me that he’s probably the guy who stole my bike).
A few days later I returned to the Esplanade (underneath the Burnside Bridge) to check on a tip about a pile of bikes underneath a tarp. As I poked around the tarp, someone appeared from under the bridge. It was Dubouis. On that occasion we chatted for several minutes. I told him I wanted to learn more about bike theft in Portland. He said he knew people that were involved in it; but that he personally was just liked fixing them up and collecting vintage parts. He admitted to me he’d been arrested for bike theft but that he was always let go due to lack of evidence or proof of his guilt.
Since that meeting, Dubouis has been arrested twice for bike theft.
On the night March 13th, he was taken into custody after PPB Officers Dave Bryant and Dave Sanders (the two Central Precinct officers we work with on the Bike Theft Task Force) questioned him about some suspicious bicycles he was working on under the west end of the Burnside Bridge. These officers know Dubouis well and have arrested him for bike theft “multiple times” before.
In the arrest report filed after that March 13th arrest, Ofcr. Sanders shared this interesting back-and-forth (emphases mine):
“While we were talking with Dubois [sic]… he would periodically fiddle with his bike. Welsh [another man they’ve arrested for bike theft in the past] and Dubois both asked us questions about the media attention regarding bike theft and we discussed this issue with them at length. At one point, I asked Dubois what his solution was to addressing bike theft in the city and he said, “I’d tell ’em to stop stealing the shitty bikes, and just go after the nice ones”. He said that anyone who locks up a $3000 bike with a cable lock ‘won’t make that mistake twice’. He told me on his own to the effect of ‘I’m not saying I’ve never stolen a bike before’. To this, I asked him how many bikes he’s stolen. He said “about seven”. Additionally, he told me he has stolen bike components before as well, and then proceeded to make fun of people who left bike lights, etc. on their bikes. Dubois told me he does not steal bikes anymore, though.”
The officers also found a pair of large bolt-cutters in Dubouis’ possession. Sanders wanted to photograph them as evidence and Dubouis requested to pose in the photo.
Dubouis’ latest arrest for bike theft was on Sunday night. Sanders said the video allowed them to identify Dubouis and go pick him up. Now Sanders is working with the Deputy District Attorney to see what type of charges might apply. In Oregon, property theft becomes a felony if the stolen items are worth over $1,000.
Even if Dubouis gets the felony charge, his jail sentence won’t amount to much and he’ll soon be back on the street. Even Leroy Parsons, a man the PPB call the “kingpin” of bike theft who admitted stealing expensive bikes on a KGW-TV segment, served just 90 days. (And by the way, Sanders told me at Sunday Parkways that Parsons is back on the streets already.)
These cases illustrate that enforcement isn’t the only tool we need to address bike theft. Bike theft is just the tip of a very large iceberg of failed social policies and a lack of funding for people in need. Both Parsons and Dubouis (and many other people arrested for bike theft) are methamphetamine addicts who need help to treat their abuse and get their lives turned around.
If you’re frustrated, you might like to hear what Ofcr. Sanders had to share about the change he’s noticed in the bureau since the bike theft issue has been given a higher profile:
“I was encouraged that we were able to identify/arrest Dubois based on the video. Also encouraging was the fact that I instantly received emails from officers who recognized Dubois after the video was aired on KGW. That shows an increased awareness of bike theft by officers on the streets and an awareness of those stealing them. Every day around the office, I am hearing officers talking about bike theft cases and sharing information about them — something that was largely absent even several years ago. I hope this trend continues as we promote the problem more to our officers in Portland.”
Educating officers about bike theft is one of the main areas that Ofcr. Sanders and his partner Dave Bryant have focused on as part of their work on the Bike Theft Task Force. That effort is now four months old and continues to grow and get stronger. Stay tuned for more updates.
In the meantime, please contact Mayor Charlie Hales and let him know that want him to make these issues a higher priority.
Sounds like education of the bike-riding public is also needed, specifically about what locks to use, how to lock your bike, and what not to leave on your bike (lights, etc).
I’m very glad that the bike task force is making such big strides and that regular officers are able to share info back and forth about bike theft! It’s encouraging that the police force seems to be working and communicating together.
“Sounds like education of the bike-riding public is also needed”
I would think that should be the first and easiest piece of this puzzle. I remain interested to learn what percentage of stolen bikes were U-locked to something stationary (rack, pole, steel fence, gas meter) as opposed to locked to themselves, locked with a flimsy cable, not locked, etc.?
A few months ago I found a section of a U-lock that had obviously been cut with bolt cutters. You can find plenty of youtube videos of people demonstrating the same thing in a matter of seconds.
I use a U-lock, but I have no illusion that my bike is safe from theft. The thieves pass my old bike by because it’s old and doesn’t look too good and because there are slightly easier targets and better looking bikes.
If everyone used U-locks, I doubt the number of bicycle thefts would decrease significantly. The thieves would simply upgrade their tools.
Education is really only going to do so much. A guy in broad daylight during school used a battery powered sawzall to cut the bike racks at Beverly Cleary Elementary. He walked right off with two student’s bikes. They were u-locked to bike racks and that didn’t stop the creeps in town.
We can’t just victim blame for all the bike thefts.
Realistically you should be able to leave your bike out completely unlocked anywhere and expect it to be there when you get back. It’s the thieves that are the problem, not how people lock their property.
It’s not like we see people that park cars without putting on a tire-boot and a club and then blame them for having their car stolen because they only locked their doors.
“Realistically you should be able to leave your bike out completely unlocked anywhere and expect it to be there when you get back.”
I disagree. There are a lot of things that would be nice–guaranteed income, stable populations, and end to homelessness, no climate change, all children wanted and loved… but that is just not the world we live in and to expect law enforcement to do what would be required to clamp down on theft of **unlocked** bikes is just preposterous. I think the only place that [might] have a line on that is Singapore.
I agree with you 9watts, but bikes in Japan are often left unlocked, or only with the rear wheel immobilized. The police are very efficient, but there’s also just a whole lot less crime.
Also, there’s next to no market for it. For whatever reason, Japanese have very little interest in second-hand goods, even through completely legitimate channels.
I lived there for 10 years and had my bike stolen. There is plenty of crime on that scale. The big difference is the lack of homelessness and drug addiction fueling it.
But you’ll agree that if you walk around with a Portland mentality towards securing a bike, you’ll be constantly scandalized, right?
Last time I was there, on a busy Ebisu street, I saw a Giant road bike with 105 components left unlocked for several days straight. Lots of nice bikes with flimsy cable locks, most mamachari with just the immobilizer.
“We can’t just victim blame for all the bike thefts.”
Emphasizing to people biking the probabilities associated with using a U-lock properly when leaving your bike unattended is not blaming the victim, it is common sense. As far as I know, it also offers a *much* better rate of return than all the other ideas floating around on this subject, most of which are premised on law enforcement kicking it up a notch or seven, which, as this article notes isn’t really making much of a difference. E.g., Leroy Parsons is already back on the street.
Cars have locks built in. A better analogue is the city’s efforts to reduce car prowl. There are signs all over the city, especially by parks, asking people not to leave valuables in their cars. Sometimes police give out flyers telling you not to make yourself an easy victim.
How is telling a cyclist to lock up their bike, which locks to use, how to use them, and to secure or remove valuable components any different?
I’m not victim-blaming– I just think a bit of education goes a long way, especially of ways to prevent getting your bike stolen.
I also think you’re being incredibly naive– do you leave your house unlocked all day while you’re at work? What about your car (if you own one)? Do you leave your bike unlocked while you’re away from it? Odds are, the answer to all of those questions is no.
It would be great to live in a society where one could leave things unlocked and it would be still all be there when you get back, but we don’t, and that’s reality.
“you should be able to leave your bike out completely unlocked anywhere and expect it to be there when you get back.”
Of course it’s idealistic, but so is Vision Zero. This is a worthy goal that should be aimed for.
“Of course it’s idealistic, but so is Vision Zero. This is a worthy goal that should be aimed for.”
The point of Vision Zero is to leave no stone unturned, attend to all the things that pertain to safety, task everyone with doing the things they can do from a very long list.
What Matt is suggesting is quite different. He’s proposing that people who ride bikes should not have to lock them, or do anything sensible to deter theft, and everyone else should see to it that the problem is quashed, presumably mostly law enforcement. This is completely untenable, an abdication of responsibility.
A worthy goal would be to work toward an end to bike theft, not an end to locking bikes.
“A worthy goal would be to work toward an end to bike theft, not an end to locking bikes.”
Wouldn’t the first achieve the second?
If the second (no more bike locking) is the stealth goal, the first (no more bike theft) would be made that much harder. Why are we even having this conversation? Given all the things to devote time and energy and public funds to is it really such an imposition to lock these pieces of property as one easy and first step to deter theft? What if people on a car blog demanded they should be able to leave their cars unlocked and expect zero probability of theft? Would you take that seriously as a public policy suggestion?
The Vision Zero analogue to Matt’s proposal that comes to mind would be to devote incalculable police resources to nabbing every last speeder, but ruling out any attention to reducing speed limits. Bonkers.
I work bike retail. I always recommend a U-Lock, and almost always describe or walk over to a floor model bike and show the customer the Sheldon Brown method. 7 out of 10 times the customer will hear me out and buy the U-lock. Sometimes folks just feel they don’t have the extra $10-20 over a cable lock (I always recommend braided), or they don’t feel theft is a big issue for where they are riding. Twice I’ve had customers return, tail between their legs, to buy a new bike and follow my recommendation for a U-Lock. Now, I don’t promise 100% security, I liken it to running faster than the person next to you when a bear is charging. Some people just have to learn the hard way.
I wish bike shops would just stop selling cable locks, period.
I’ve heard this way to often and it is a silly statement. You might as well tell bike shops to stop selling cheap entry level bikes because they break to easily when you take them riding at Sandy Ridge.
Everything has a purpose and for accessories there is a good, better, best choice of products.
Cable locks serve a purpose as a low level deterrent, in 90% of the rest of the country a cable lock is plenty of security where bike theft is low and the thieves are way less prepared to defeat them. Which is why bike shops sell them because cheap security is all you’ll need when your visiting say Hood River or Sandy Ridge or Bend.
But as plenty of shop guys here have stated they inform their customer that cable locks are low security deterrents and are not a good lock for use in Portland when your not in sight of your bike and are leaving it locked for more than a couple minutes.
And furthermore if cable locks were banned in Portland all that would happen is the thieves would upgrade their tools to be able to cut through U-locks. by the way, those bolt cutters he is pictured with above will easily cut through 75% of U-locks on the market so… their already upgrading their tools.
Should we start banning sales of U-locks with a diameter less than a half inch now?
The true problem is bike theft in Portland (and many other bike cities) is a huge black market business that is fueled by a very prevalent drug dependency epidemic. If we fix the drug problem in our inner city then we would see a huge drop in bike theft.
PPD if your reading this, crack down on the drug use, sales and distribution in Portland and you will see property crime go way down!
Wow, talk about blaming the victims! How about we teach thieves not to steal, hmmm?
Glad to see PPB ramping up on stopping bike theft. Keep up the good work!
Thanks Officers Bryant and Sanders, hit me up for pizza and beer.
Seconded. These guys are doing a lots solid work on the theft issue that most of the public isn’t aware of. Follow them on twitter at @ppbbiketheft if you aren’t already following.
I’m am not a fan of Dubouis by any stretch of the imagination, but remember: Theft only works if it translates to money on the other end. To Dubouis, stolen bikes equal money and money equals meth (probably, or some other addiction)
I think many people are willfully ignorant when buying stolen goods. They don’t try to prove the item is stolen so in their mind they can ‘believe’ the seller.
Address the selling end, and the motivation for theft gets much smaller.
Is there anything we can do or support to help prevent these people from being right back out on the street to steal more bikes within a matter of days or weeks?
There is, but this isn’t the wild west and it’s not worth going to jail for.
There are resources to get them off the street, but many don’t want to abide by the “rules” of the shelters.
One-way bus ticket to Miami?
Yes. Make the necessary changes to city ordinances and policies, so that police, rangers, and other city personnel can and do routinely load up and haul away the piles of bikes and bike parts that are “inventory” for people like Dubois. The only reason his bike theft works is because he can store and break down his stolen bikes in those piles. The police know where these stashes are, but they have to treat them like they might be someone’s legitimate property. That’s a load of hooey. As soon as a stash is spotted, send a city truck and crew, clean it up.
Those bolt cutters will cut through almost anything. The city enacted an ordinance regulating the sale of of “graffiti materials” (e.g. spray paint) in 2011 (www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/article/172437). Purchasers have to show identification to buy. Maybe a similar ordinance for bolt cutters would slow down a few of these criminals.
We’re lucky it’s just bolt cutters and cable locks most of the time. Battery-powered angle grinders make short work of even the burliest U-Locks. I wonder if we’d see more of them if there weren’t the low hanging fruit of cable locks all around.
I feel a physical discomfort in my gut when I see a nice bike locked up in a public place with a cable lock.
The city should partner with bike shops on offering free U-locks to people who purchase a new bike or register their bike on an online database such as BikeIndex.
The City, meaning us? We should subsidize locks for everyone who is able to buy a new bike?
Maybe the City should require bike purchasers to buy a nice, strong lock? I almost always do that anyway.
I also mentioned getting a free U-lock for people who register with an online database. That way, low income people or people who buy a bike from a friend or craigslist could get a free lock as well. Booths could be set up at Sunday Parkways or at other community events to get the word out.
There is no such thing as “free” u-lock. I don’t mind paying taxes for services we all use, but am I supposed to subsidize absolutely everything for everyone?
Or, instead of a whole new program that costs a lot of money, we could enforce existing laws and bust up the camps that are hosting chop-shops.
You are correct – the new mobile angle grinders can make quick work of almost any lock, this is why Portland needs secure bike parking facilities for long term parking over 2 hours…if retaining Platinum is still a goal.
[The community needs to start asking for parking security equity, “Why are the public Smart Park garages still so un-bike friendly regarding the quality of access and the racks?” etc.]
Exactly. Advocate for planners to put pressure on developers to allow secure bike lockers to be placed onsite, or set a standard for including them in transportation centers. We’re fighting for this at certain Caltrain stations in the south bay area (some already have them).
The strongest U-lock isn’t going to prevent a crank or derailleur or even a light mount from being stolen. As potential customers of these services, we should speak up and show there is a need and market and we’re willing to spend money on it. It will save cost and burden on law enforcement officials as well.
If you see a bike chop shop in progress within city limits the best thing is to call police non-emergency at 503-823-3333, correct?
Please, bike store owners and employees, will you boycott the sale of substandard (cable, cheapo U locks) locks? And owners, don’t require your employees to speak positively about bad hardware. Allow and encourage them to call a shit lock a shit lock.
I used to work at a bike shop here, and we always warned people the dangers of cable locks and bike theft in Portland. We recommended u-locks to everybody. You’d be surprised how few people actually listened after they saw the price difference.
I’m amazed that bike shops will even stock cruddy locks. Maybe I should make my bike shop decisions by the locks they sell. If you sell bad locks, I’m not shopping in your store.
Cable locks are appropriate for some people’s situations. My mother has been using one for years without a problem. The light weight and ease of use offset the risk in her assessment. That is her option, kind of like I don’t always feel like I need to wear a helmet. Should bike shops not provide an option for those who evaluate the risk as acceptable?
I use a cable lock to lock my bike onto the rack on my car, but only rely on it when I’m driving or when I can see the car (e.g. from the restaurant). I don’t know how I’d use a U-lock on the rack on the car, so a cable makes sense in that situation.
I’d never depend on any lock to secure my bike on a rack on my car overnight.
I’ve carried a light cable lock while touring. And I use one on my night time beater bike (the $20 lock is of about equal value as the mid 90s mtb bike!). As long as the store gives sage advice, and I’m sure most all do, I’m happy they provide the full docket of lockets.
It’s probably Fred Meyers, Walmart, etc., that are the places where those cheapo locks get bought.
I give very good odds those bolt cutters were not purchased by meth head bike thieves.
Probably purchased by a legit user who had them stolen from their tool box. Tools are probably the only thing as hot as bikes for thieves.
They’re locked up in most of the hardware stores around town now so there’s a good change they were shop lifted at some point.
I seen Leroy Parsons under the ever growing chop camp under the SW side of hawthorn just the other day.
Not to be too cynical, but I feel like if this theft didn’t happen at the MAC there would likely be a different ending to this story?
The fact it happened at the MAC had little to do with it OTHER then…the MAC, thank goodness, have video cams on site which “caught” the act in progress. If the bike would of been stolen in front of Voodoo and caught on camera I’m pretty sure we’d be reading the same story today with VooDoo inserted where MAC is.
The chop shops on Waterfront Park and Eastside Esplanade operate with impunity. Why even bother arresting Jonathan Dubouis anymore?
“In Oregon, property theft becomes a felony if the stolen items are worth over $1,000.”
I’m pretty sure a strict reading of Oregon law says that possession of a stolen bike is a felony, regardless of its value. Specifically, ORS 814.400(2) says, “(a) A bicycle is a vehicle for the purposes of the vehicle code; and (b) When the term vehicle is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles,” while ORS 819.300 (also part of the vehicle code) lists possession of a stolen vehicle as a Class C felony. So why aren’t police hitting bike thieves with felony charges across the board?
TriMet switching over to eLockers, 5 cents an hour. If you lock up 50 hours a week, it’s $120 for the year.
I currently pay $180 a year for my reserved locker in the Lloyd district. I’d rather use an hourly system like this instead, with lockers all over the city.
Car parking: Free
Bike parking: Buy a $20 card, pay a $5 activation and pay 5 cents an hour.
Car parking (# of spaces): 9,616
Bike parking (# of spaces): 32
It’s kinda ridiculous, don’t you think?
32 unreserved elockers. How many free bike racks are there? And other pay options:
A lot less than 9,000, that’s for sure. To put this in perspective, if these park and rides were all built today, they would collectively cost more than the entire new bridge, the Sullivan’s gultch trail, and cycle tracks on Vancouver and Williams combined.
What bikes fit in them? I know my cruiser won’t fit. What about bike trailers? Cargo bikes? I have a friend who rides an adult tricycle. He’s had two stolen. I’d sure as heck pay the $25+time to be able to park my bike. At least when the lockers were near anything I actually traveled to, which isn’t super-often either.
If they were everywhere, and your bike could fit in them, would you use them? They seem to me to be worthwhile. The vast majority of bikes do fit in them, and if you want to ride on something else, you can bring a lock like usual.
The problem seems to me that there are so few of these (for now).
Sidewalks are already obstructed enough. Adding lockers to the streets would be much better.
How tall are they? If someone is in a wheelchair could they see over them? When drivers have their view of a crosswalk obstructed by a tall car/SUV they often don’t slow down enough to compensate and it creates a lot of conflict with people walking around (or biking on the sidewalk). You don’t necessarily want nothing there because then drivers take turns too wide. But if you had these bike lockers you get the traffic calming effects of a parked car without the sacrifice in visibility. The only issue is are they too tall for children/wheelchair users to be seen over them?
Bike Thieves: Portland’s 21st century horse thieves.
I was just in Texas. The Portland bicycle community talking about bike thieves sounds just as Hang-em-High as old western cowboys.
For all the talk of Portland being a liberal town we can get awfully old testament vengeful when the mood suits us.
We might want to look in to correcting our hypocrisy.
True, but how.
Dubouis is smiling in that photo because there’s virtually no real punishment for bike theft. And if rehabilitation were available, would he even take advantage of it?
I’m pretty liberal and support with tax money and personal money actions that are intended to help people less fortunate. Being liberal doesn’t mean that I roll over and allow rampant theft from those who have by those who don’t. I’ve had bikes stolen, house broken into, car broken into, vandalism of my car and house. I’m tired of it. I’d rather continue to give to “good causes” instead of spending the same money on alarm systems, but I’m reconsidering. I don’t think I’m being hypocritical when I want the Parsons and Dubouis locked up for a long time.
But there’s a difference between wanting legal justice and hearing the lynch mob tone that consistently cranks up on BikePortland whenever a bike theft story is posted.
The thing everyone remembers from the book 1984 is Big Brother and Authoritarian surveillance.
Don’t forget about the “Two Minutes Hate” and the irrational violent fervor that it is natural for people to get caught up in.
We do want legal justice, but there’s a lynch mob tone because there is no legal justice. Bike thieves will continue to steal our bikes with impunity.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I’m just calling in to question the ethics of dealing with barbarism by stooping to a lower level.
Yes, guys like this need to be re-educated or permanently contained.
No, these criminals do not deserve beatings, pain, injury nor death.
The problem I observe here, and on old western shows, is that vengeance is equated with justice.
The fact of the matter is that while vengeful retribution feels good for the victim all of world’s historical record shows that cruel and unusual punishment doesn’t actually achieve anything other than increasing public risk.
So yes, imprison those that won’t change but then focus all efforts on undermining the foundation that causes crime to be seen as a viable risk-vs-reward option for the most poor.
Adopt Hammurabi-style codes for theft! Just kidding…
A bike for a bike..?
“Bike theft is just the tip of a very large iceberg of failed social policies and a lack of funding for people in need.”
It’s your fault that Parsons and Dubouis steal bikes.
If we just provided “more funding for people in need”, they would stop stealing bikes.
“Both Parsons and Dubouis (and many other people arrested for bike theft) are methamphetamine addicts who need help to treat their abuse and get their lives turned around.”
And if Parsons and Dubouis aren’t interested in kicking meth?
What do you do then?
I disagree with you Random.
It’s not my fault these guys steal bikes.
However, I firmly believe that we are all to blame in some way for being part of a culture that has become so completely devoid of a social safety net… the kind of net that could create conditions where there are fewer people living on the margins like Dubouis and Parsons.
Are some people just bad apples and going do crimes and bad things? Yep. Probably, but my comments in the story are not about those people. I’m assuming that most people – even Parsons and Dubouis – might have had different lives if they were helped at an earlier stage.
Neither of these guys may be interested in helping themselves, and that’s too bad… But it doesn’t mean my concerns and beliefs about the greater issues we face are not valid.
As for what to do about Dubouis and Parsons. Again, it comes back to social policy and funding. We should detain them for much longer in a secure location where they can either give back to the community and/or work to get healthy and then return to society and be productive.
What are your ideas about solutions to this problem?
“However, I firmly believe that we are all to blame in some way for being part of a culture that has become so completely devoid of a social safety net… the kind of net that could create conditions where there are fewer people living on the margins like Dubouis and Parsons.”
Which is why bike theft is so prevalent in Portland with attitudes like this – Portland is hardly “devoid of a social safety net” – it provides a very high level of social services to indigent people, which, combined with Portland’s reputation for tolerance, is why transients are attracted to Portland from all over the Western United States.
Combine that with an attitude that property crimes are not worthy of serious prosecution by the DA, and this is what you get.
I can’t imagine another city that would allow bicycle chop shops to operate openly for any length of time.
“We should detain them for much longer in a secure location”
LOL. There’s a word for that “secure location” – but is it entirely against the Portland ethos to advocate putting habitual thieves in that place.
You are very good at pointing out what you think is wrong my perspective… But you still haven’t shared any ideas for solutions.
I’m just trying to figure this thing out, and I’ve actually taken some concrete steps toward doing so. Have you?
I’ll ask again… What are your ideas for solutions to this complicated problem?
I’m kinda sorta with Random here, up to a point. I work in the treatment field and while I’ve never met either of these two gentlemen, I’ve met a few (dozen) other frequent flyers.
Regrettably there are too few treatment beds in Portland – especially for longer term addicts enmeshed in the drugs/crime subculture. For the slots that do exist, turnover is very high. Guys (can’t speak for the women) come in, they get just enough better and they’re back out there. I don’t have statistics, just anecdotal/observation, but it’s unclear that more beds in treatment and/or more opportunities for gainful employment are of interest to a lot of this population.
There needs to be a better social safety net, but Dubois and his lot are gonna do what they’re gonna do as long as they are on the street.
Most of us agree there needs to be a better safety net. However, what do we do with these bad apples that are too far along in their ways to accept change and be halfway decent citizens?
I think we need a combination of stiffer penalties with lots more jail time for people past a certain number of criminal convictions, and better programs for those that haven’t reached that threshold. These guys have how many felonies and other offenses on their records already? Time to move on and help other people while we lock these guys away until they are sober and mature enough to be released (at least 10 years by what I can tell).
How can you tell that when there’s almost no sentences or rehab in the first place?
A big part of the problem here is that it is more expensive to put people into the system than to just bear the crime. There is no reporcussions for people who have no expectations to ever be part of a civil society. I would vote for a “singapore” solution. I would use corporal punishment. If the guy got 10 lashes with a cane there is a concrete disincentive to not be a criminal. Under the current system the hardcore criminals are essentially rewarded with a shower, food, medical care and a bed in a county jail.
Now many will say this is cruel but what are your solutions that don’t incorporate creating a Marxist utopia, shipping them to Idaho or trying to social engineer out of the situation. These are essentially feral people and the solutions should be in terms they can understand.
Where, do note, the cost of bearing the crime is not paid from taxes, but instead lands on whoever happens to have their stuff stolen.
Random, you make some assumptions about Portland’s “high levels of social services” that don’t align with the data I’ve seen.
In one graph, we can see that the emergency bed situation massively underserves those in need, and that suggests why so many people are sleeping outside to begin with: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland-homeless/art/housing.png
Since services, or at least emergency housing, have been drastically reduced in recent years, your assumption that services entice homeless people is proven incorrect. Services have gone down, the homeless population has increased.
Harsher penalties might be a reactive way to deal with this after the fact, but will that really work as a preventative? Is there something more proactive we can do here?
Personally, I feel like a harsher sentence doesn’t necessarily mean less drug/alcohol addiction, and if the addiction drives the need for money (which drives the urge to steal), then I’m not sure more jail time will solve anything, since surely this same situation affects many others living on the street. Legal whack-a-mole might just tire out the gears of justice.
I think some perspective from a career criminologist would be really great for this discussion.
“But you still haven’t shared any ideas for solutions.”
Probably starts with much harsher sentences for habitual criminals. Dubouis and Parsons do what they do because they can get away with it, and there isn’t much in the way of consequences.
From KGW: “Parsons has been convicted of 15 felonies and 22 misdemeanors for methamphetamine, stolen bikes, and burglary, among other charges.”
It would be interesting to know how much total jail time Parsons has done for his 15 felonies (not to mention the 22 misdemeanors).
Other cities don’t seem to have quite the bike theft problem that Portland has – what do they do that Portland doesn’t do?
Many fewer bikes.
Simple lack of opportunity combined with the conspicuity that comes from trying to sell a rare item in a small market.
If there is only 1 unobtainium bike in town and it gets stolen fencing it locally is like trying to fence the Mona Lisa.
In Portland there are thousands of easy pickings every hour and a huge market for parts, pieces and whole bikes such that disappearing in to the anonymous market place is easy.
Ask for a receipt whenever you buy a used bike. Get the seller to include their name, address, the serial number, sold for $amount, and a signature. If you can get their original proof of purchase, even better. If everyone did this (and know your serial numbers, check the db before buying), the market gets complicated for thieves. People don’t have to think about this with cars because the DMV requires it.
And use at least 1 u-lock per $500 bike value?
Actually, in cities that are less bike-friendly, used bicycles generally sell for less money. At the Kansas Bike non-profit, I saw a refurb’d vintage Raleigh road bike selling for $175 that would have fetched three times that amount in Portland.
Another point: In cities where it’s harder to get around by bike, bikes are also often less valuable. Kansas City is not a great bike town (though it’s trying to improve). Its suburbs are even worse. The upside is that people can lock their bikes with a cable and expect to find it there when they come out of the store. Geography and bicycle climate definitely inform bike theft numbers.
Yes. I’ve found that in the “bike knowledgeable” cities, people to tend to really overvalue their bikes.
I heard about that on an NPR economics podcast; Planet Money or Freakanomics.
Seems there’s a racket whereby stolen cars are shipped out to high car demand areas and the trucks carry stolen bicycles back to low car demand/high bike demand places like Portland where the bikes fetch a better price.
Really the horse theft trade of the old west is an ideal model for the difficulties we face in tackling bike theft.
816, RevolveKC, Lawrerence bike co-op, Acme, ?…. what, when, where, and how, to just about everything you posted about Kansas City….including which side of state line? I truly have no recall of ever using a cable lock for my Rivendell or Paramount while living there. Granted my hometown is a shadow of its former self, you paint an unfair picture, to be sure.
“Portland is hardly “devoid of a social safety net” – it provides a very high level of social services to indigent people”
Compared to what? Not if we’re comparing it to places that take care of their poor people. I’d start with Germany.
“Probably starts with much harsher sentences for habitual criminals.”
Nice. And who’s going to pay for all that. Perhaps you don’t realize how unbelievably expensive and counterproductive that is? We in the US already do this (when compared to the rest of the world). We lock up a higher percentage of our fellow citizens and for longer than all but one or two other countries (to which we would prefer not to be compared). And look how good the results are.
“Nice. And who’s going to pay for all that. Perhaps you don’t realize how unbelievably expensive and counterproductive that is?”
So Parsons and Dubouis simply get to stay on the street, and get to continue stealing bikes with minimal consequences. (Any guesses how many bikes they’ve actually stolen? I’m sure that they have been arrested for bike theft a tiny fraction of the times that they’ve stolen bikes.)
15 felonies and 22 misdemeanors isn’t deserving of some serious prison time, apparently.
Hope you don’t like your bike very much – since it’s going to continue to be open season on bikes.
Your two options: harsher penalties or doing nothing are not the only options.
Habitual criminals that don’t want to be or won’t be rehabilitate should be removed from society, period.
There a other options for those that still have hope for rehabilitation.
Yes. I’m absolutely in favor of harsher penalties. There are virtually no penalties now. Anything would be harsher.
I agree with you (and several of your other points in this thread) but “harsher” needs to be qualified with “more effective.” Current penalties include criminal records that make employment very difficult and housing nearly impossible (rental agencies all run background checks). Being turned out of jail onto the streets with no hope for income or housing and a near-certainty of returning to their old ways is harsh but ineffective. Maybe some sort of official record for those background checks indicating “done their time, behaved well, meeting release requirements” could help reintegrate into society. “Housing first” solutions are also showing good results. If someone still can’t cope by society’s rules, then less freedom for them seems like the next step. Whether that is incarceration, electronic monitoring, reporting to probation officers or other options depends on specific cases, but those are the places where the sharp stick of “harsher” seems to me like it could do some good.
Decriminalizing ALL drugs might help to bring the more marginal people like Mr. Dubouis out of the shadows. It seems to have helped Portugal.
Mandatory drug treatment for criminal addicts probably wouldn’t hurt either. It seems like it would be cheaper for society than throwing people in jail multiple times. Do any social service types on Bike Portland have any insight to share?
Have fewer bikes.
Didn’t I just see a Monday roundup article that said Copenhagen had cut bike theft in half by getting people to use better bike locks?
And where are the three strikes laws when these guys are convicted for the umpteenth time?
We don’t have a 3 strikes law. There is a presumptive (not mandatory)18-month sentence on the second conviction of certain property felonies, including 1st degree theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle which could be charged in these cases.
I am pretty sure they will just release him again. It is well known that Portland police doesn’t care about bike thief.
PPB BTTF is changing that perception, and the quick-release incarceration policies aren’t PPD’s call. Contact Mayor Hale’s office, and Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas District Attorney’s Offices about those policies.
The woman in the KGW story who had her fork, front wheel, etc, taken from her bike said that it cost her $1500 to repair. There’s your felony.
Actually i partially blame bike manufactures, there is no reason that you can’t have brazed on cafe locks on the seat stays, and for some reason the front fork locks never took off, but I really like mine.
With the front fork lock and a cafe lock on the back, I just use a cable for securing it to objects. Even if they somehow cut the cafe lock without ruining the bicycle, that front fork lock makes it impossible to steer the bike (it locks in one of three different positions).
I’ve often thought it’d be fun to park the bike with only the front fork lock secured and watch how long and how many try to ride off with it only to bite it upon trying to ride it. Could make for some entertaining video.
I want one of those! There goes my evening, down the internet rabbit hole. Again.
Mine is a 1971 Raleigh Superbe.
The fork locks were mostly used on the “high end” (though the only real difference between a Sports and a Superbe was the fork lock and dyno light system) English – (including Gazelle who was Raleigh at one time) commuter bikes. Not sure that the “technology” ever crossed the pond or even the channel for that matter.
But it’s still cool, and effective. I almost always get comments when I’m locking it up (including a few I suspect were eyeing to take it), and with it and the cafe lock on the back – I’ll often not lock it to anything for those quick convenience store parked-within-sight kind of stops, which is one of the best places to get your bike ripped off at. Sure they could pick it up and put it in a truck – (but most bike theft isn’t like that – they’re riding off or ghost biked away), but even then with the fork locked in a turning position, there is no rolling it anywhere.
Thanks for that pic. This would be awesome on an edgerunner. Maybe I should find someone to braze one on along with the mounts for that fixed front pizza rack?
Dubouis is lucking he’s not committing his crime in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria, He wouldn’t be able to steal again. Drugs can be a powerful driving force too.
I’ve had u-locks cut, so I don’t understand this pretentious only-a-u-lock opinion. If someone wants your bike they will take it. We need better enforcement and alternatives (e.g., bike boxes).
“I’ve had u-locks cut, so I don’t understand this pretentious only-a-u-lock opinion. If someone wants your bike they will take it.”
I’m still interested to learn from someone who knows the statistic: what percentage of stolen bikes (in Portland) were locked up with a U-lock to a stout stationary object? I don’t see what is pretentious. I know very well that this is an actuarial game, that U-locks aren’t a panacea; but if my hunch is correct they are 10-100x better than the alternative. Show me the numbers.
I agree that U-locks are the best option for most cases but they aren’t perfect. PPB’s Bike Theft Task Force has a picture today where one was defeated and the bike mangled in the process: https://twitter.com/PPBBikeTheft/status/626393684435533824 .
Indeed. Why would I lock my front door when anyone could just break my living room window?
This from Gerald Fittipaldi yesterday:
Does anyone know what the story is with the cobbled together shanty boat anchored just south of the Hawthorne Bridge toward the west side? I noticed that it has a lot of bikes and bike parts piled up in it, and I wonder what the story is. Given the rise in attention to bike theft in Portland, I’ve taken to noticing piles of frames with a more mistrustful eye.
use this site’s search box for “pirate ship” (with quotes)…you aren’t the only one to notice 😉
Portland is a tough town for “bike shops”…now there are 70+…the new ones have to differentiate themselves from the herd…whom would have thought there ever could be a floating bike shop on the Willamette?!
Where do the stolen bikes get fenced? Can anyone answer that?
I doubt the thieves are posting everything on craigslist (which requires answering emails, setting up meeting times, talking with regular people, etc). I sell stuff on CL and its a hassle.
“You want to by this bike? Meet me under the hawthorne bridge at 10:30 tonight, bring cash!” I dont think so.
Follow the trail of money upstream and go after the source.
Have police start enforcing “nuisance crimes” for a year. Littering, petty theft, drug use, public urination, unseaworthy craft, etc for repeat and problem offenders. Offer treatment in lieu of prosecution to unfortunate people with mental health problems or substance abuse problems who want to get better, but prosecute guys like this guy pictured to make it uncomfortable for them even if it means revolving in and out of prison until they understand they need to break the cycle. Assess the impact on social services after a year to see if this results in a workable situation where people who need and want help have adequate services.
His picture makes him look like Zaphod Bebblebrox, he just needs another head shopped in.
So shaggy, very busted, much criminal pride, herez mah toolz.
Keepin’ Portland wired. . .
Casey Jones better watch his speed…
I’m fortunate to have a secure house and secure office to keep my bike in, so I don’t usually even carry a bike lock. The problem theft creates for me is I don’t use my bike for errands or running around like I would otherwise – too much hassle to lock up the front and rear wheels, remove computer and lights, and pannier, carry them into the store/restaurant/pub – then return to find the seat stolen. It’s not worth the hassle. I’m a full-time bike commuter and recreational rider, but I walk or use the car when I’m going anywhere else in town. A pity.
This is I keep a townie bike, which is really my cross bike that has beat down over the years. It sucks to have to drive when you don’t want to. Also, I choose places that I can hang out by the bike while enjoying my libations. The Belmont Station is a perfect example, seats right next to the bike rack. Some days I don’t even bring a lock when I stop. Cheers!
Why do I hear Crispin Glover’s voice when I see the face in that first picture?
Here is the thing. We can all agree that what we variably call homelessness, whether due to a vagabond lifestyle, addiction, mental health disorders and the inherent crime…none of it is good for any of the people involved. We should not stand by as someone suffers. It is such a commonality among us Portlanders to care deeply about other people and it is a fabric of this town. Whether it is liberalism or libertarianism, we do see things differently from many other places in the US.
But we are contradicting ourselves over and over, and debating ideals in silos instead of grasping the big picture. How can we care so deeply about those living on the streets and yet only enable them to continue to do so?
The way I see it, there are things we can’t fix but our leaders in City, State and Federal Government might. And those involved in the efforts on the streets or hospitals or clinics can guide. We need a comprehensive plan, there is no one solution.
Mental health providers can guide us on how institutional care can be in someone’s best interest. It’s been gone since Reagan, it’s time to reconsider. They can monitor who is appropriate for group homes, or other living situations. Will it solve the problem? No, but it will greatly reduce it. Our government needs to ensure there are more facilities and health coverage for these disorders. This is possible to accomplish slowly.
Addiction is also a mental health issue, but needs to be separated from other types. Addiction is very difficult to treat, but it also is possible. Sometimes, limits and responsibilities are required. Rules do need to be followed and not everyone wants to help themselves. But the easier it is for someone to jump ship back to using, the more it happens. Law enforcement here is imperative. We aren’t locking someone up in a jail, you are entering them into a system. When they choose to leave it where they can, we as a society need to remind them it is not okay for them to do so. We have a moral and legal obligation to get them off the streets to try and help again. We don’t just sit back and watch this in our city.
So the third aspect is our expectations of our citizens. This again comes down to our institutions, clinics and our legal system. Find as many avenues for help as we can. It won’t be enough, so we keep trying to do more. It’s not okay for someone to sell large quantities of substances that kill people in our city. It just isn’t. We must stop tolerating heroin and meth use. Don’t put away the individual addicted user, I understand that argument but something this dangerous musn’t be so readily and widely available. Right now, there is no fear of repercussion in this city. It’s an addicts heaven. We are allowing them to hurt themselves. We aren’t even trying.
So finally, people steal our bikes. Now Jonathan and others are putting themselves at risk confronting these addicts. Someone is going to get hurt. It all stems from us allowing our citizens to hurt themselves, allowing them to suffer. It is not ok.
Us “allowing” these people to hurt themselves?
Us “allowing” people to suffer?
What does that even mean???
The reason the institutionalization of those suffering from mental illness decreased dramatically during the Reagan era was directly due to the rise of better psychotropic medications. The newer drugs had huge advantages due to a low incidence of life-impacting side effects. Those who were previously forced to live behind bars due to their illness could now maintain free and independent lives as long as they continued to take their meds. Therein lies the problem. Maybe what we really need is some sort of enforcement for medication compliance in those who have shown to be repeat criminal offenders due to their mental illness?
Agree. Not sure they were behind bars in the way others are behind bars, people cared for these people. I’m not sure the option of wandering the streets in that mental state, able to choose not to take meds is better or worse than the cared environment but I’d suggest it isn’t working!
It’s easy to access records of who these thieves are.
It’s easy to find mug shots of these convicted thieves.
It would also be easy to copy their mug shot pictures and post them all over Portland so at least people would have a chance at recognizing these scummy thieves.
Perhaps they could be shamed out of the community.
I would say also that bike theft undermines the City of Portland and the goal of multi-modal transportation. It’s simply not a question of a bike stolen having X dollars of value. I won’t lock my $1,000 bike up downtown. That means I walk; or I drive; or I don’t go at all.
Also, It would be helpful to know when dubouis is going to be sentenced.
I would like to be there and comment if that is allowed.
Would you lock up your bike in a locker, if one was available and affordable?
I agree, it’s a bit heavy on emotions there for which I apologize for some pent up frustrations on the issue.
I guess what I mean is, you walk by someone or something suffering and you just keep walking. As a city, that’s pretty much what our policies and actions are doing in the face of growing suffering. When we have a means to help, we can and should also say it is not okay to sleep on the streets either.
His sentence or probation will have to include not being allowed to own, or be in possession of bikes, bike parts, camp near or be within a certain distance of bikes for many years. That way whenever the police see him with bikes they can assume they’re stolen and re-arrest him. Otherwise he’s back out on the street and back in business.