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Theft from apartment’s bike parking room a tough pill to swallow

Posted by on March 28th, 2019 at 12:18 pm


*Photos of the scene by Patrick Mok

North Portland resident and friend of BikePortland, Patrick Mok, had his bike stolen from his apartment building Monday night. What makes this theft notable is that he had it locked with a high-quality lock and it was inside a designated, fenced-in bike room.

Patrick and his favorite commuter that’s currently in the hands of thieves.

Getting a bike stolen is bad enough. Getting one stolen from a place you expected to be secure is even harder to swallow. I wanted to share Patrick’s experience for two main reasons: To remind people that bike theft remains a major issue in Portland (and a barrier to biking for many), and in hopes that his story will lead building owners to invest more to make bike parking facilities as secure as possible.

Patrick says whoever stole his gray, Specialized AWOL road bike planned ahead and knew what they were doing. The bike room it was parked in is located on the first floor of a relatively new, four-story apartment building on North Interstate Avenue. The bike parking room is in the back of a fenced-off parking garage and it’s enclosed by a chain-link fence of its own. Patrick said his recent theft was not the first one they’ve had.

Back in November of last year, Patrick left a bike unlocked inside the bike room and it was stolen along with one other bike. The thieves cut through the latch in the fence to get them. After that incident the property manager repaired the fence but made no other upgrades.

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This time around, Patrick was more prepared. His bike was not only inside the fenced room but was locked to another bike with a $100 Abus Bordo folding lock and two cable locks. He says the thief/thieves climbed over the wall of the parking garage and cut a large hole in the chain-link fence. At least three bikes were stolen and all the locks were cut. “I found it interesting they decided to cut the lock instead of the cable… I felt safe with the Abus lock,” he shared with me today via email.

As for the bike room, Patrick has recommended some upgrades and more secure designs to the property manager. He posted the incident to Nextdoor and heard from a local bike parking specialist, draw2build LLC (owned by local bike advocate Scott Mizee) who has offered to consult with the property manager on a new design.

Patrick has filed his theft with the police and listed the bike as stolen on BikeIndex.org. He says he no longer trusts chain-link fences as an adequate deterrent and he will only use heavy-duty chain locks on his bikes in the future. He also strongly recommends taking pictures of your bike (especially if you change parts a lot) to make it easier to settle a claim with your insurance if/when it gets stolen.

Sorry this happened to you Patrick! We’ll keep an eye out for your bike and let us know if your bike room gets an upgrade.

UPDATE, 3/29 at 7:55 am: Patrick’s bike has been recovered! Here’s the story:

Back home and safe.

“Someone recovered my bike for me. He said he got it from a camp near 82nd and the MAX station.

Someone called me from a phone number with no caller ID so I am assuming he wishes to remain anonymous. He introduced himself as David. David manages a restaurant which delivers food to the homeless and he collected the bike at a camp near 82nd and the MAX station and met me at Duluth Trading Company in Jantzen beach. That’s when he told me how he got it back. I told him about our neighbors’ bikes and he said he saw another Specialized AWOL and a white Kona there too. They were too nice compared to the other “zombie bikes” he said.

Condition of my bike is good overall. Brooks saddle is wet from being left outside in the rain but can be dried out and reconditioned. I am grateful that we still look out for others in this community.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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

39 Comments
  • Avatar
    bikeninja March 28, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Was the Abus cut with bolt cutters or a cutting wheel in an angle grinder? It is hard to tell from the photos

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    Jason Van Horn March 28, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Sorry to hear it. We’ve always kept our bikes in the living room or assumed there’s the possibility it could disappear.

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    bikeninja March 28, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I think the discussion of bike rooms and bike nooks may already be out of date. With this brazen type of crime on the rise it may be time to start talking about special purpose bike rooms with armed guards.

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    PdxPhoenix March 28, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    OR, in the future… park your bike IN your apartment… If you can/space allows I suppose. I’d think having 2 bikes stolen in 4-5 months time would be justification if landlord/management objects. The bike storage area is demonstratively NOT secure.

    That’s what I did in my last apartment. Sucked schlepping it up 3 flights & it sitting in the hallway, but that place didn’t have anywhere to put it & I loath locking it outside overnight/long term.

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    John Lascurettes March 28, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    “After that incident the property manager repaired the fence but made no other upgrades.”

    Sounds like a property manager is financially liable for replacing that bike.

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      El Biciclero April 3, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Is there a sign anywhere that says “Not responsible for stolen property”? Is that all it takes to not be liable?

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    Shimran George March 28, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Patrick sold me his Brompton a few weeks ago–he’s such a super nice guy and is incredibly knowledgeable about Bromptons–and bikes in general! I am really hoping he gets his bike back soon.

    It really sucks that such a thing could have happened to a nicer individual, and he did everything right and even took extra precautions to keep his bike secure.

    I hope we can help him get his bike back.

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    Lindsey Trainer March 28, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    I used to live in a newer apartment building on N Williams Ave where we had some outdoor bike parking and we had at least 3-4 bikes stolen (that I was aware of). The bikes were all locked up behind a very heavy duty and tall metal fence that had a door you had to key in and out of but the thieves climbed over the fence, cut the kryptonite U-locks and cable locks and somehow got the bikes over the fence and then climbed over it themselves. I reported this issue with the apartment manager but I don’t know if the bikes were ever recovered. The only thing the apartment manager said was – “This is why we recommend using heavy duty locks”… which makes no sense since the thieves cut through kryptonite locks. I was unimpressed by the apartment manager’s response.

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      gtrain March 28, 2019 at 5:00 pm

      That a some good old victim blaming right there! 🙁

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      Alan Love March 30, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Totally your fault. You didn’t fill the frame with molten lead to make the bikes too heavy to carry over the fence. Standard practice, you know.

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        Toby Keith March 31, 2019 at 7:29 pm

        Oh man I want laugh with you but damn this city has become a lawless pit. I would be so sad if any of my bikes were taken. Especially my vintage Klein stuff.

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    Josh G March 28, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    It may seem a little strange at first keeping your bikes inside your apartment, but it can be super convenient depending on the layout of your apartment. Seeing my bike every day and having it right there, I tend to ride quite a bit more often.

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    Bobcycle March 28, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Very discouraging. My bike was stolen a couple of weeks ago. I went out and invested $200 in high end locks (chain plus u-bolt). I hope that’s adequate. Bikes are also stored in locked storage area. Living in Portland means I carry around a substantial ring of keys and lock all doors and gates behind me. Makes me seriously consider moving. I also switched to using a $25 bike with a $50 lock for local errands. Good bikes never are left unattended when away from home. This is new, it hasn’t always been this way.

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    donttreadonme March 28, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Common access “bike parking” in apartments is where people store dusty bikes they don’t ride. I would never ever leave a bike I care about or use in one of these rooms no matter what lock is being used.

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    dan March 28, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Bike rooms / areas should really have cameras!

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  • Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
    Bryan Hance (The Bike Index) March 28, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Sadly most of the time even when there are security cameras the business or management won’t give the video to the victims. Most businesses say “sorry, company policy” or simply “we’re only allowed to give this to the police” or something similar. The cameras are there to protect their interests, not yours …

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      Dan March 28, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      Boo, hiss. Wouldn’t the value of this particular bike be enough to make the theft a felony? I would have assumed the police would be interested…

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    Beth H March 28, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Some apartment buildings specifically ban bicycle parking in the living space (usually citing damage to carpet or nice wood floors). If I couldn’t negotiate a solution with the manager, I would look for another apartment, and back in the day I always found some other palce that was bike friendlier.
    Today it may be harder to do that, but I’d still fight for it.
    If the so-called “Secure Bike Parking Area” isn’t secure, it’s worthless.

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    Todd Boulanger March 28, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Patrick – sorry to hear about your loss and that you did a lot to minimize your bike’s exposure to theft. I have been a big fan of Abus locks since I got my first one in 1986.

    Insecure Security:
    It saddens me that the CoP still allows(ed) developers to go “cheap” and build an “insecure” bike parking cage. The banishment of yard fencing style “cages” was one of my recommendations, as a stakeholder, to the BPoT Bike Parking ordinance update. I saw too many “easy” thefts from such areas while I was with Bikestation consulting with developers designing new or retrofitted bike parking areas. Only simple tools or often a short climb is all a thief needs to get to a bike with such “enclosures”.

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    Edward March 28, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    My bike was recently stolen from my apartment’s balcony. Now my replacement bike stays inside with me. Plus two kid bikes. Good secure bike parking is a huge issue.
    Although the bikes are “secure” inside, it’s always an awkward jumbly mess. Putting/keeping the bikes inside is a bad temporary solution – which becomes the new normal.

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      Glenn the 2nd March 28, 2019 at 6:43 pm

      Forget about security; the convenience alone makes indoors THE place to keep a bike. “Walking to it first” is for those suckers stuck with a large ungainly heap that has to live in a designated space in a big spread-out parking area. When the thing you ride is essentially an object you can carry anywhere, well, you can carry it anywhere.

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    B. Carfree March 28, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    This is what’s going to be the hardest part of growing up for me. I’ve always lived in houses. My current house has two tandems, grandkids’ bikes, town bikes for three adults, road/touring bikes for three adults, two bike carts and two project bikes going on. My bike storage/work room is a pretty high percentage of my home. As I age and cities are under pressure to densify (see Senate Bill 10 and House Bill 2001) I realize it’s only a matter of time before I’m likely to end up in an apartment and have to trim the stable and deal with this awful storage/theft issue.

    I’m not ready! Don’t burst my bubble yet. Let me pretend it’s still 1975 for another decade or two.

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  • Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
    Bryan Hance (The Bike Index) March 29, 2019 at 7:51 am

    This bike is recovered as of 08am 03292019: ” Someone saw bike index twitter and recognized it at a homeless camp near 82nd and max station “

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 29, 2019 at 7:59 am

    UPDATE, 3/29 at 7:55 am: Patrick’s bike has been recovered! Here’s the story:

    “Someone recovered my bike for me. He said he got it from a camp near 82nd and the MAX station.

    Someone called me from a phone number with no caller ID so I am assuming he wishes to remain anonymous. He introduced himself as David. David manages a restaurant which delivers food to the homeless and he collected the bike at a camp near 82nd and the MAX station and met me at Duluth Trading Company in Jantzen beach. That’s when he told me how he got it back. I told him about our neighbors’ bikes and he said he saw another Specialized AWOL and a white Kona there too. They were too nice compared to the other “zombie bikes” he said.

    Condition of my bike is good overall. Brooks saddle is wet from being left outside in the rain but can be dried out and reconditioned. I am grateful that we still look out for others in this community.”

    Recommended Thumb up 9

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      Robert March 29, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Since that’s now the location of a known bike thieve, I presume the PD have gone by and collected all the contraband. I believe Oregon law still allows confiscation without charges.

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    Wheels61 March 29, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I’m glad we are providing meals to our local bike thieves to keep them around.

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    Bobcycle March 29, 2019 at 8:30 am

    So glad to hear Patrick got his bike back. But saddened that my bike and my neighbors both decent bikes recently stolen between ne 67 and 72 are likely in a similar location with no way to get them back.

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    Toby Keith March 29, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Found in a camp…not surprised. And that particular camp is a nasty one in operation for a long time now. Glad he got it back at least.

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    Middle of the Road Guy March 29, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Yeah, it surprised me it was found in a homeless camp. I am sure a “friend” sold it to the person who had it.

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    Bobcycle March 29, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Thanks go to the advocate that saw and reported the stolen bike. So how can I get him a picture of my stolen bike? I did report it to police and also stolen bike index. I guess I was unaware that I needed to “Tweet” a picture to bike index. Are there other steps I should have taken? I did check Craig’s list and Offer Up for a while. Quite frankly my first thought was that camp on 82nd but I was to afraid to approach it other then to look when I drive by in my car. Anyone have the “complete “ list of things to do when your bike is stolen?

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  • Bryan Hance (The Bike Index)
    Bryan Hance (The Bike Index) March 29, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Bobcycle – when you register your stolen bike with BikeIndex, the tweet goes out automatically. You don’t have to send us anything. And yes, you should watch offerup and letgo and generally keep an eye on the camps.

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    Bobcycle March 29, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Thanks Bryan I went back and found my stolen bike posted on Twitter , I didn’t realize it was automatically tweeted. I also found interesting links on bike index tweet about steps to take after bike is stolen. Though I didn’t get my bike back, I appreciate the effort Bike Index takes and will be making a donation to them.

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    Bike Enthusiast March 29, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Perhaps we need to start treating bike theft as grand theft auto and/or burglary if indeed the bikes are secured physically and in a locked location. Too bad it isn’t PC to have the police beat the transients with batons found with stolen bikes. From my understanding the bicycle task force with PPD routinely sweeps the same spots where they find the same street punks with the hot bikes, yet they can not do anything with the suspected theif since all the heart felt tears would be flowing for arresting a homeless person responsible for the crimes

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      PdxPhoenix April 1, 2019 at 12:56 pm

      _grand theft auto_? The police can’t do shit to anyone in possession of a stolen car (even with a bag clearly labeled “theft kit”-or some such- on it) if the person _claims_ not to know it was stolen… you think the police/DA’s give a flying f about stolen bikes??

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    Disabled Guy March 29, 2019 at 11:31 am

    The hard pill to swallow is how Jonathan Maus can’t decide whether he is for or against public safety. Your comments and narrative changes so much and you hurt the bike community by sugar coating what everyone knows which is these camps aren’t people down on luck they are hardened felons who are high on drugs and most have warrants and that’s why they don’t go to shelters.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 29, 2019 at 11:49 am

      Hi Disabled Guy,

      Let me try to clear things up for you: I am for public safety. I am against treating innocent people unfairly. I am against stereotyping people based on how and where they live.

      If you read what I write and say closely, you’ll understand that I’m trying to weave a productive thread through a sensitive and complicated issue.

      I have never denied that many bike thefts are committed by homeless people and that many stolen bikes are found in homeless camps. I found my own bike near tents under a bridge and posted about it! I also helped start the PPB’s Bike Theft Task Force which does great work and spends much of their time patrolling homeless camps for stolen bikes.

      That being said, you and I have no idea what the life situation is of every person who lives outside. Given the emotions around this issue, I want people to be very careful how they talk about it because hatred and blame are powerful emotions and just because someone lives outside doesn’t mean they should be the target of your frustration and anger.

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      Toby Keith March 29, 2019 at 9:41 pm

      It’s not just Jonathan. This brand of “compassion” is killing Portland and many other cities. I don’t know how much worse things are supposed to get, but it’s terrifying. City leaders have turned their backs on you, the police no longer do the job we pay them to do, and we are supposed to just sit back and listen to the same bullshit lies over and over again. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, it doesn’t matter the same cancerous politics are killing us and turning our cities into unlivable hell holes.

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        X April 3, 2019 at 6:19 pm

        Unlivable hell holes? And that’s why you have filed for permission to move to another country? Because I’m sure you wouldn’t just climb the fence.

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    Bjorn October 25, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Recovering the bike is great, but when you find the bike with the thief maybe help connect the police to the thief and see if maybe we can get them off the street and into some long term secure housing so they aren’t stealing more bikes. Folks who are climbing walls, cutting fences and locks aren’t first time bike thieves and all you are doing with the catch and release strategy is ensuring that someone else is going to have their bike stolen tomorrow.

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