Support BikePortland

Bike Theft Task Force spreads awareness at Sunday Parkways

Posted by on July 26th, 2016 at 8:59 am

PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-8.jpg

The booth at the entrance to Woodlawn Park was buzzing with activity all day.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

If we’re going to take a bite out of bike theft in Portland we need the whole community to step up: Police, bike shops, city bureaus, and citizens like you and me.

It’s all about education and collaboration — two things that were on display this past Sunday as the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force made their presence felt at Sunday Parkways. Four uniformed officers joined with staff from the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement and citizen volunteers to register bikes and educate people about secure locking techniques.

It was the second go-round of the Task Force’s hugely popular U-lock? U-rock! program. Thanks to a collaboration with Project 529 (a Task Force member) and lock-maker ABUS, the Task Force was able to give away another 50 u-locks.

Sunday Parkways started at 11:00 am and the line for the locks started forming at around 10:00. To get one, people had to show up with a bike, get it registered on Project 529, demonstrate proper u-locking technique, and give us a cable lock as part of the exchange. We had three teams registering bikes and PPB officers on hand to answer questions, hand out information, and interact with the community.

PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-4.jpg

Officer Dave Bryant spreading knowledge to our youth.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-5.jpg

Love our new shirts.


PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-3.jpg

ONI Crime Prevention Coordinator Stefanie Kouremetis was a registration machine.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-6.jpg

Gotta’ find that serial number.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-7.jpg

Officer Oliphant spent the day talking to the throngs of riders that came past the booth.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-10.jpg

Officer Oliphant and one of Portland’s newest riders.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-12.jpg

Volunteer Pete Frey and his snazzy new BTTF t-shirt!
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-13.jpg

Officer Benjamin Labasan helping out.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-14.jpg

Officer Dave Sanders demonstrating how to use a u-lock.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-15.jpg

PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-16.jpg

Registration teams in action!
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-9.jpg

Another happy customer.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-17.jpg

This woman just got a new bike and wanted to make sure she locked it up correctly.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-19.jpg

PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-20.jpg

Preventing bike theft, one u-lock at a time.
PPB Bike Theft Task Force at Sunday Parkways-18.jpg

Just part of our team: (L to R) Stefanie Kouremetis, crime prevention coordinator, Office of Neighborhood Involvement; PPB Officer Benjamin Labasan; Me (Jonathan Maus); Peter Frey, citizen volunteer; and Sydney Wilson, ONI Crime Prevention program intern.
(Photo: PPB Officer Dave Sanders)

After handing in their old cable locks, many people got to grab a pair of bolt-cutters and slice through them.

We registered well over 100 bikes and gave away all the u-locks we brought in less than an hour. We also handed out lots of our new Bike Theft Task Force swag and told people about the important work we’re doing.

If you missed out on a u-lock this time, come find us at the Southeast Sunday Parkways on August 21st. If you’d like to be a Bike Theft Task Force volunteer, please get in touch.

I’m so grateful to be able to work with our Portland Police and this great team we’ve put together! We plan to continue to build the Task Force so we can have an even greater impact on preventing bike theft. For more info, see the official website.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

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

  • Avatar
    Spiffy July 26, 2016 at 9:26 am

    some of those cable locks with loops on each end would still make good a wheel securer…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 26, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Ironic that the U-locks come with cable locks…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Pete R July 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      The U lock should secure the rear wheel and frame to whatever object you are locking it too. The cable itself then loops through the front wheel and back to the U lock to deter the front wheel being taken too.
      Ideally you would remove the front wheel and lock everything to the frame and post (or whatever secure object). In practice very few people take the front wheel off, so this just adds protection. A thief is going to take the easiest bike to steal, not one that takes multiple steps to get away with.
      I’d much rather have my front wheel stolen because some one cuts the cable lock portion. I’d at least have my rear wheel and frame still secured.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        nuovorecord July 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

        I like running my cable through my saddle rails too. I ride a Brooks. 🙂

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    B. Carfree July 26, 2016 at 10:53 am

    If we’re going to make a serious dent in bike theft, we are going to need a broader community effort than was noted in the opening. Critically, we’re going to need the state legislature to recognize bicycles as vehicles worthy of similar protections to that afforded to cars.

    If I steal your car (fear not, I have no use for it and don’t steal anyway), I’m going to get two felony charges: unlawful entry into your car and unlawful use. A trip to a state prison is all but assured. If I steal your bike (again, fear not), odds are there won’t even be charges brought against me even if a cop would actually take a report and act on it. Thus, we have known bike thieves operating openly. There is almost zero chance of being caught and there are no consequences of any import even if one does get caught. Notice there aren’t a lot of known car thieves roaming around because the cops and courts take action against those felons.

    Frankly, I think we have this backwards. Almost all cars carry comprehensive insurance, so the owner isn’t necessarily out much when it is stolen. Also, since the cost of operating a car is substantial compared to the cost of procuring one, most motorists can easily afford to replace one that has gone missing. With bikes, they are not insured (for the most part), operation costs are much less than the purchase price and many cyclists really cannot afford to replace their stolen rides. Thus, the impact of a stolen bike is much greater than the impact of a stolen car for many people.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 26, 2016 at 11:50 am

      I’m probably not alone in saying that my cheapest car was far more expensive than my most expensive bike. Furthermore, I would never insure a $5K car against theft, so when stolen (as has happened), I am out the full shebang.

      I think car thieves get more punishment because the value of what they steal is much higher. It is also much easier to investigate/prove car theft, as the state has a record of all VINs, and cars carry license plates, making identifying the stolen property much easier.

      I am torn between wanting life imprisonment for bike thieves and feeling that we generally over-prosecute non-violent crime.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        BB July 26, 2016 at 12:23 pm

        And I’m probably not alone in saying my most expensive bike is far more valuable than most of my friends’ (used, 10-15 year old, lower mid range when new) cars.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty July 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

          I will concede that generally optimize value, which puts my bikes in the sub-$1000 range. I really want a Brompton, but have yet to find a single compelling use case (that applies to me) for buying one. I also know that some people will happily drop $5K for a decent racing bike.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Middle of the Road guy July 27, 2016 at 3:35 pm

            You can spend $8000 on a non-race bike also…locally made!

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Kat July 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

          I’ve never paid much for a bike, and never seen the point. Most were in the $100-600 range. Cars, I’ve paid 20k for (never again!), and since I’m not really that picky about the type of bike I ride, I can easily get a used refurbished one for around $100. I might suggest that those of you who feel the need for fancy, super expensive bikes get home owners/renters insurance, give them the serial number to your bike, and get a cheap bike to ride around town. I would never consider locking up a $5000 bike, I would think that would be something to not commute with.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Heather July 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

        False. We bought a used car from a friend for $600 to use as a grocery getter/lazy rainy day driver. And we have 8 bikes that are each easily 3-4x that in value, sooooo no.

        That reminds me. I need to up our renter’s insurance…

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Edward July 26, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      I mostly agree with B.Carfree, except I don’t think we need a legislative change — bikes are already vehicles in the code. We just need the police to write up their reports this way (and arrest and book bike thieves for UUV), and DA’s need to charge these crimes this way. Somebody running a bike chop shop would be immediately “REPO” — repeat property Offender — and subject to prison.

      But I disagree about the pain to victims. Sometimes a bike theft is more disastrous than a car theft, sometimes not. Always depends on circumstances. The guy with five brand new fully insured cars? It’s just a really big headache. To the single parent struggling to make it to a low wage job? Loss of a “beater” car somebody took would be disastrous. Same logic goes for bikes. Is N+1 a joke? Or is it the sad reality of N + none? Just depends on circumstances. But no matter the details (bike or car) they’re each the same felony–Unlawful Use of a Vehicle, and should be treated that way.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Eric Leifsdad July 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      Stealing a bike worth over $1000 (i.e. nearly every e-bike) is a felony.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Racer X July 26, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Great program and thanks to the volunteers!!

    [But, now I am thinking…with less crappy cable locks on the ‘streets’ and more middle security level u-locks I have to get a better lock for my own bike…its the old race to not have the worst defence on the street! Thieves always like convenience.]

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    devograd July 26, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I’m so glad Portland has a program like this. Thanks to everybody on the Task Force!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    mh July 26, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I’m so glad bike theft is finally being taken seriously enough to put both $$ and employees on it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kyle Banerjee July 26, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    What would be great is more bike storage options. Except for inexpensive bikes, U-locks provide very limited protection for the simple reason that even if you run it through the frame and the wheels, every other component can be stripped very quickly.

    One thing that drives me nuts is that it’s hard to use a decent bike as transport in this town unless you’re going to a place you know will let you bring your bike inside with you. As to why I might want to ride a decent bike, it’s because I spend a substantial portion of every day on it and I appreciate what it has to offer the same way I appreciate all good things that I have a chance to experience.

    BIKETOWN intrigues me for the potential to run errands short errands without worry of theft. But neither my home nor my workplace is in the service area. Riding a slow moving tank isn’t particularly appealing, but for distances of a few miles or less, being able to park outside without worry of having my bike stripped might be worth it if it were an option.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty July 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      The BikeTown bikes run pretty well, but are indeed heavy. Good for short trips only, or slow cruises along the waterfront. Other possible options might be beater-bike for errands, or a folding bike that you can take inside with you.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    pooperazzi July 26, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    City needs way more racks in visible places. Would do a lot to prevent theft – many lock to signs and other less secure objects because of the lack of racks

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kittens July 27, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I just checked the Abus Ultra 410 locks, they use 6 discs, those should be much better than the kryptonite U-locks. Some of the kryptonite use only 4 discs in their locks only giving them about 96 key combinations. Can you guess what happens? Yep, all it takes for someone to go around and insert that key into kryptonite that use disc locks and you’ll find that 1 out of 96 you can unlock some unfortunate suckers bike. Don’t mention the barrel key shit kryptonite used to use *cough* bic pen *cough*

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar