Bike Theft Task Force leader has left PPB; future of unit unclear

A busy Bike Theft Task Force booth at a 2019 Sunday Parkways event.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Due to a lack of funds/budget, our unit has been suspended and is currently unable to respond to bike theft needs in the community.”
— Dave Sanders, Task Force founder and former PPB officer

A vital part of Portland’s fight against the scourge of bicycle theft has been mothballed.

Six years ago, as bike theft spun out of control in Portland, we brought people together to do something about it. With full support from the Chief of Police, we helped establish the Portland Police Bike Theft Task Force — a specialty unit devoted to tackling the problem. “This cannot continue,” said former PPB Chief Larry O’Dea at a press conference outside City Hall on March 31st, 2015. “Portland is a cycling city. Thousands of people depend on their bicycles every single day to get them to work, the store, school, and so on. Today is the day we as a community get organized to address this problem head-on.”

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Fast forward to January 2021 and emails to the Bike Theft Task Force are met with a somber message: “Due to a lack of funds/budget, our unit has been suspended and is currently unable to respond to bike theft needs in the community. We do not foresee this changing any time in the near future based on the current trajectory of city priorities, though we recognize the urgent need to address this epidemic.”

Officer Dave Sanders in 2019.

The email is signed by PPB Officer Dave Sanders, who is now former PPB Officer Dave Sanders. Sanders decided to leave the bureau at the end of December to work for the Beaverton Police Department.

You might recall Sanders as the officer who reached out to me in October 2014 to raise the alarm about bike theft and express frustration that the PPB wasn’t taking it more seriously. It was my relationship with Sanders that led me to Chief O’Dea’s office and ultimately to the formation of the Task Force. Sanders, who patrolled the central city by bike with his partner and fellow Bike Theft Task Force (BTTF) Officer David Bryant, was extremely dedicated to fighting bike theft. Under his leadership (and without little to no funding), the BTTF registered thousands of bikes. The unit also gave away hundreds of free u-locks, educated the community about prevention techniques, helped returned stolen bikes to theft victims, investigated thefts, tracked down bike theft suspects, trained other PPB officers in the art and science of bike theft prevention and recovery, and collaborated with other agencies (most often the transportation bureau).

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PPB Officers David Bryant (L), Chief O’Dea (middle) and Sanders (right) receive a donation in 2016.

Despite no dedicated budget (other than staff time), Sanders built a strong foundation for the BTTF using relationships, a few grants, donations, and hard work.

Sanders’ auto-reply email offers a window into his frustrations about the challenges he faced in the past year as his morale ebbed, bike theft remained a massive problem and the police budget came under intense scrutiny:

“Bike theft has climbed to an all-time historic high this year. This is directly related to the reduction in our police force as well as a lack of accountability in the criminal justice system for these offenses. Sadly, we anticipate the problem getting worse, barring any systemic change to the current approach to public safety. We hope that bike theft will be prioritized by the community once again at some point in the future. We are confident that controlling bike theft is an attainable goal, but it will require a concerted investment.”

Right now in Portland a credit card fraudster is hitting local bike shops and remains on the loose. The PPB is aware of the issue and is working with the community to stop it, but this is the type of situation where the expertise of Sanders would be invaluable.

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The BTTF will suffer from a lack of leadership and effectiveness without Sanders at the helm, but not all is not lost.

Reached for comment about the status of the BTTF, PPB Public Information Officer Melissa Newhard said officers continue to recover stolen bikes under the BTTF umbrella but, “Outreach and registration activities have been suspended due to personnel and budget shortfalls.” “The staffing and budget reductions have resulted in a reduction of BTTF’s ability to maintain a presence on various electronic media The website, e-mail, and various social media channels will remain up, but their activity will be minimal. We hope to resume these activities as our staffing numbers increase and our budget outlook improves.”

The official website remains as a resource and the PPB still works bike theft cases. There’s also hope that some bike theft prevention and recovery efforts can be transitioned away from armed, sworn officers as part of Portland’s new approach to policing. The Portland Street Response, an effort championed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as a new policing model, has begun training and plans to roll out in February. It’s also notable that Hardesty also leads the Portland Bureau of Transportation, an agency that has long been a supporter of the BTTF and could take over some of the work (like registration drives, education, training and so on).

In the meantime, if you get your bike stolen, the best thing to do is report it immediately on BikeIndex.org and Project529.com. You should also file a police report online. The next step is to check local listings on OfferUp, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace to see if someone is trying to sell it. This and more info is still available on the FAQ page on the BTTF website.

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

Dave, welcome to Beaverton.

dan
dan
2 years ago

Well, that’s disappointing. Thanks to Officer Sanders for his hard work trying to turn things around.

mran1984
mran1984
2 years ago

Let the criddlers rejoice. I will never lock a bike up in this city of crime and garbage. Looking for a stolen bike? Just check out ***deleted by moderator***. The social workers will get right on this. The new DA would not consider bike theft crime anyway.

X
X
2 years ago
Reply to  mran1984

***Comment deleted by moderator***

Kailen Green
Kailen Green
2 years ago
Reply to  X

X,
That’s not really a cool comment. On this site it’s requested to stick to the issue and not get personal.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
2 years ago

Ironic. Lack of funds when millionaires are becoming billionaires, and billionaires are well on their was to becoming trillionaires. Tax the rich for a change?

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

The stock market is doing better than ever, yet homelessness is worse than it ever has been. We have the resources to fix this. We choose not to.

Phil M
Phil M
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

People getting rich during a scamdemic. Imagine that!

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil M

“Scamdemic”? Please. Do you think biology is an antifa plot?

Phil M
Phil M
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Oh the virus is real enough, but this nasty little one has been highly weaponized. Both politically and financially. And please, antifa isn’t that smart.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Phil M

They were doing it long before this happened. Also, you should look into science, it’s pretty cool.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

If the government has enough cash lying around to send me $1800 so far, and Biden wants to send me another $1400, then there are obviously enough public funds to confront many of our nation’s ills. I did not need the money, and most economists say (and research indicates) that these government giveaways do not stimulate the economy. About 85% of the funds are put into savings accounts (me) or used to pay old bills. As long as the government spends its money so foolishly (oh and by the way, increasing the national debt 60% in one year) real problems like bike theft, homelessness, street crime will increase.

eawriste
eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I’m not sure where you got your 85%. Here are the actual numbers based on census data. “80% of these respondents reported using it on food, and 77.9% on rent, mortgage and/or utilities, including gas, electricity, cable, internet and cellphone.”

eawriste
eawriste
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

You are likely referring to a non peer reviewed working paper used by an opinion article to back up your argument. Here is a quote from that paper:

“We see sharp and immediate responses to the stimulus payments;
within ten days, users spend over 20 cents of every dollar received in stimulus payments. The largest increases in spending are on food, non-durables, and payments like rent, mortgages, and student loans.”

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  eawriste

That actually validates my point. 20%? 15%? Within margin of error. Also, the article I referred to involved research over several decades which had stimulus injections of some sort. Also, my point primarily involved whether these payments actually stimulate the economy. If you can cite works that prove otherwise, let it fly.

Jimmy
Jimmy
2 years ago

Re-fund the police.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Not expressing an opinion, just reminding you that it is inevitable the pendulum will swing. We have a Giuliani in our future, and the longer we wait, the harder he’s going to hit.

Christian Samuel
Christian Samuel
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

True words Kitty. Although it might be the harder she’s going to hit. 🙂

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

The REAL Giuliani? Reportedly, he’ll be out of a job soon, and his boss is already not paying him anymore.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Also, we really haven’t defunded the police much. Wish they would start funding some other services that would actually help people instead of just punishing people for being poor.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

For me, if someone breaks a law (regardless of economic status) they should be punished. That could be jail time, fine, community service, warning, or some other “punishment.”
At any time a community wishes to make something not a crime then they work within the system to change the laws and their enforcement, or not enforcement. But until then all laws should be enforced and preferential treatment shouldn’t be allowed.

Steve C
Steve C
2 years ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

I read “help people instead of just punishing people” as not excluding the possibility of a type of punishment, but one that is grounded in compassion rather than simple punitiveness. Maybe someone commits a petty crime or infraction, one that is strongly associated with food insecurity or drug addiction. Could we focus on providing them support so that we have fewer people are in this position? “Do the crime do the time” mentality is not getting us out of this situation we’ve found ourselves in.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Thanks for the middle school civics lesson.

What happens if the laws are being made by a certain class of people and we end up with the greatest wealth disparity in the history of mankind? And those same laws force people into poverty and basically crime just to stay alive? I will let the homeless people know they should hire a lobbyist to write some laws that favor them.

Steve C understood perfectly what I meant. What you said didn’t even begin to address it and was pretty far off base.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Wish they would start funding some other services that would actually help people instead of just punishing people for being poor.

We fund lots and lots of services that help people.

Steve C
Steve C
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I think you are reading this entirely too literally. Programs that address and ameliorate the effects of poverty are woefully underfunded and much too narrow in scope. Institutions that comprise the prison industrial complex, on the other hand, eat up huge portions of public funding that could be better spent addressing the underlying issues that drive crime.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve C

We fund lots of services that help people’s escape poverty. Everyone is entitled to at least 13 years of free education, and many people get preschool services as well, which will shortly be expanded in Portland. That isn’t cheap. We provide health services to the poor. We provide rent assistance, food support, income support, and so on. Not enough, for sure, but saying that the US only spends money to punish criminals is just plain wrong. And, of course, we will always need to spend money on prisons. I’m a bleeding heart, but there are a lot of bad people that we don’t want treating society as a playground.

Could we do more? Absolutely. But let’s say least acknowledge what we do do.

Steve C
Steve C
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Wait, so your takeaway from this person’s statement is that they believe the government does not provide supportive services to the poor? Because you should read it again. “Start funding some other services” in this context clearly means that there are services that need more money and scope, not that they do not exist at all. Can’t tell if you are being purposefully obtuse by listing public education etc. (though I’m surprised you didn’t list infrastructure, “cannot the poors travel freely on public roads??” Despite the current systems poor people are indeed punished for and institutionally disadvantaged by their condition in our society. The law, in particular, burdens the poor vs the rich. This is a problem of equity that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve C

There is no question that poor people are disadvantaged in our society, and probably every other one as well. How could they not be? I hope you didn’t read my comments as suggesting I think otherwise.

General laments of “we should do more” don’t mean much to me, not because we shouldn’t, but because the policy questions are so difficult, and generalities are unhelpful. Yes, we should do more… but what?

Don’t dismiss education; it is a critical path out of poverty, though many people squander their opportunity. At some point people need to assume some level of responsibility for their lives. Many do, but many don’t. I don’t know the answers, but I’m interested in specific, actionable ideas, not platitudes and wishful thinking.

I’m happy to pay more taxes to support programs that help people escape poverty. If you have a good idea, I won’t be the one standing in your way. Heck, I’ll cover your back.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

The policy questions aren’t super difficult, actually. We have been cutting taxes for the rich, funneling money to the top and cutting services, while increasing city armies (aka the police) that wage war on poor and disenfranchised people.

It’s not about you paying more taxes, it’s about changing rules of the system so that all the money doesn’t just float to the top. People need to get over the idea that you need to “work for a living”. Those aren’t the times we should be living in anymore. What’s the point of technology if not to become more efficient and work less, while providing more?

On a completely different note, did you hear that Bill and Melinda gates are the largest private farmland owners in the United States. Glad he got all those tax cuts so he could control our food sources.

We produce more food and goods than we could consume (and more efficiently), yet here we are, people living in the mud next to the freeway because “policy is hard”, not because it has been systematically taken away from us for decades through thoughtful policy.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

People need to get over the idea that you need to “work for a living

Alex, So can I quit my job and have society pay my salary? Sounds good to me.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

@Javier – Oh you. You are adorable.

What I am arguing for is a universal basic income. Will it be the salary you make working? Probably not. We just shouldn’t force people into abject poverty if there is no job in society for them.

I would be fine with you quitting your job and still have access to food and shelter and would be happy to support that.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I do not begrudge Bill Gates a penny of his wealth. He built something that literally changed the world for the better, and he is now dedicated to spending his fortune for the betterment of humanity. We need more like him.

So what would a basic income cost? 300M * $1000/mo * 12 = $3.6T per year. That’s about every penny the feds collect in taxes, from all sources. You’re not getting that from the top 1%.

What you should be advocating for is a carbon tax with the proceeds funding a basic income — it is inconceivable that we could fund one with our current tax system. But even with the revenue in hand, with so many other pressing needs, is that how we’d want to spend it? It is unclear what impact it would have on society. Who would do the low wage hard work that we need done? Maybe illegal immigrants who could not get a BI, creating an even starker caste system than we have today. Maybe nobody, and trash piles up in the streets. Maybe we raise wages and now that $1000 goes a lot less far because a pizza costs $50 or $100. Maybe listless people disconnected from the need to work fuel a huge new epidemic of addiction. Maybe energy becomes so expensive the economy collapses. Your simple answer suddenly sounds a bit more complex.

And we need to acknowledge that even with a basic income there will be poverty and crime and inequality and homelessness and hunger, though probably to a lesser extent than today. Some of those “living in the mud” would be better off, but the majority are there because of mental illness and drugs, and a BI isn’t going to fix that, and may even make it worse. Maybe knowing the guy in the next tent has $1000 makes him a target.

A BI will not cure our social ills, and will certainly create some new ones of its own. We might even end up needing larger “city armies” than we have today. Nobody really knows what would happen, not even you.

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Did you know that Bill Gates/MS were operating an illegal monopoly and were convicted of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act? And you support all the money they made? How about all the shady dealings they made with Dell to keep on top of the market? You ok with that, too? That’s great if you are, but I really don’t support it. They did have innovation (to a certain degree, that I think is honestly a bit overrated), but who is to say that wouldn’t have happened if Bill and MS weren’t taxed at a higher rate – say the rates of 20 years prior?

“You should be…”. This type of statement just backs up my assertion that you talk more than you listen. Telling people what they should be doing isn’t great.

I am not saying all crime, poverty, etc, goes away. This all-sidesism argument just dilutes the problems and leaves us with no clear path forward. Did I say BI is going to fix mental illness? Again, you talking, not listening. Do you think I am against universal healthcare (including mental illness)? Do you think I wrap up healthcare in UBI? Did I posit that UBI would solve all the world’s ills? Because that sure seems to be the assumption you are working from.

I will not be responding to any more of your comments. As Steve C alluded to, it sure seems you are disingenuous with your arguments and understanding of things.

On a final note, I really feel like the BP comments have declined in the last year+. It’s really sad to see. I like supporting BP, but think I will stick to the articles rather than dive into what is unfortunately becoming more of a cesspool down here.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Your message feels rather belligerent for someone lamenting the decline of the comments section. Good ideas can be supported without personal attacks.

D'Andre Muhammed
D'Andre Muhammed
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

And substance abuse has nothing to do with a lot of this?

Alex
Alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

> We fund lots and lots of services…

Nothing close to how much we fund the cops. And we could use the cops funding to be doing a more specific job of helping people rather than just enforcing laws. And before you say it, yes I know they sometimes help people, but at the end of the day they are LEOs.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Your vague hand-waving sounds a tad naive. How about filling in a bit of detail about how your plan would work. For instance, how much of the police budget would we need to “help people”, how would we spend it, and who would you call when someone robs you?

Christian Samuel
Christian Samuel
2 years ago

Office Sanders is a great guy. He is a prime example of what community policing can due to proactively reduce crime and make our community a place to thrive. He put his all into trying to reduce, even eliminate bike theft in Portland, It’s really sad we as a community have decided not to support his efforts. Thank you for your service Officer Sanders!

cmh89
cmh89
2 years ago

That’s not true. PPB has decided not to support his efforts. It’s SOP for public agencies to cut things that people value first so that reactionaries can freak out.

This is nothing more than PPB holding the city hostage for more overtime slushfund.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago

What a shame! But hey that’s what we get for electing police haters. Portland is now reaping what it has sowed.

Matt S.
Matt S.
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

No, I think it’s some of Officer Sanders’ colleagues at the PPB and other agencies that are to blame.

dan
dan
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

If you think Wheeler is a police hater, I’m kind of curious what you think a police lover looks like. Mussolini?

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  dan

dan,
Thinking more of Hardesty than Wheeler. Although Wheeler has spoken words of support he actually hasn’t done much to support the PPB. We did lose the Bike Theft Task Force and the Gun Violence Reduction Team under his watch.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

Wheeler’s interview on OPB this week, his one and only priority in the negotiations with the Union was increased oversight…not creating a partnership with the union, not recruitment, not confronting street crime…I could go on. He clearly sees the PPB as an impediment to his agenda, not a potential partner..btw, I’m actually not sure what his agenda is.

Nadia Maxim
Nadia Maxim
2 years ago

I’m really sorry to hear this. I seriously doubt JoAnn Hardesty will be of any help in the area of bike theft. She is the major player in why the Bike Theft Task Force was disbanded in the first place. She even wanted an additional $18 million cut to the police budget to fund unproven and unrelated social giveaways (food donations, hygiene activities, eviction defenses, etc)
She hates enforcement. Unfortunately, thieves now know there are no repercussions for stealing in Portland. Hang onto your bikes!

Some cops are the Proud Boys

It was probably their goal all along is to stop all bike theft so they can put themselves out of business.

Don’t have money left over when you pay your entire staff 80 hours of overtime each week to stop those libtard protestors demanding equality and stuff

Some Cops are the Proud Boys

I accidentally hit post on that previous post before I could read it an edit it. I probably wouldn’t have posted it. It is definitely sarcastic. I actually really appreciated the work that Dave did for PPB. I wish him well in Beaverton.

Chris I
Chris I
2 years ago

So you’re saying that we can save millions in overtime costs if Antifa agrees to stop attacking the Justice Center and/or breaking windows downtown?

Kawoyi Nagata
Kawoyi Nagata
2 years ago

That’s a bummer. Many of the good cops we have are bailing out of Portland. It’s no wonder though given the lack of support they receive from local politicians and many members of our community. Many are so disillusioned they are taking jobs with lower salaries at other departments. Not good for the community to lose excellent, experienced officers. There is a new non profit in Portland that is attempting to build positive relationships between the community and the PPB. I hope they are successful.
Here is their link:
https://www.facetofacepdx.org/

Pancy Fants
Pancy Fants
2 years ago

Effective community police outreach, unfortunate to see it go. Indeed, not all cops are bastards.

Pat J
2 years ago

It seems like this is what happens when people choose to defund police and their programs. Antifa and the far left have done their damage. Also learned that chrashes may no longer be investigated when the traffic division goes away. Hit and runs will no longer be solved. I read a letter from Oregon Impact on this. I suppose unintended consequences ro poorly thought out knee jerk reactions.

Fred
Fred
2 years ago

I was listening to a podcast the other day in which a guy was explaining what “Defund the police” means. “C’mon, you guys!” he said. “You know that we don’t mean get RID of the police – we mean get rid of the racist police organizations as we now know them.”

Okay, I get that, but I’m pretty sure that 95% of Americans – probably 95% of Portlanders – do not. And Portland’s dysfunctional gov’t made the mistake of cutting the police budget without having any public-safety backfills already in place. That’s how a competent city gov’t would handle it, so of course Portland decided to do the exact opposite. Where are those non-police public-safety improvements we were promised? We are waiting.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Likely the wait will continue which happens all too much in Portland’s City government, incompetence is rewarded, not removed.

Nadia Maxim
Nadia Maxim
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Yes, it really is an example of horrible city management to cut public safety funding before an alternative is in place. I think this CAHOOTS approach has merit but it will be years before it can be up and running citywide. Currently it will start with only a very limited team in Lents neighborhood and a second Lents team (for nights/weekends) won’t be added until June if it stays on schedule. And this “trial program” is scheduled to last a year. Time to move to a city manager model so we stop acting on political whims instead of well thought out policy. Meanwhile we all suffer from lack of timely public safety response.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Nadia Maxim

I totally agree that we need to get the alternatives up and running and proven before reducing the police, but I’m unclear how things would be different if Portland had a city manager. Council would still control the police budget and the funding for alternative programs, and the same politics would be at play.

I think we’d still be in the same challenging position with a different structure, but we might be talking about how to get rid of the manager who makes city bureaus less accountable to elected officials.

Jo
Jo
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred

Like that time JoAnn Hardesty called the cops on a lyft driver for leaving a window down in covid??

Bike Guy
Bike Guy
2 years ago

Thank you Officer Dave for your contributions, and sorry to see you go.

Jonathan, I disagree that bike theft is suitable for the unarmed members of the Street Response Unit to handle. Bike theft is a crime, and should be treated as such – by both PPB and DA Schmidt.

On the other hand, activities within the original purview of the SRT: mental health disorders, homelessness / houselessness, individual drug use – are not criminal offenses, so merit an initial response by the SR Team.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 years ago

Just curious, but why can’t the City of Portland require that all bicycle serial numbers must be registered with the city at all points of sale, including used bikes? Online retailers are pretty good about collecting taxes and fees at point of sale, why couldn’t they automatically register them too?

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I think that could be very helpful. Officer Sanders was/is of the opinion that if bike registration reached a “critical mass” in the Portland area we could virtually eliminate bike theft. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Unfortunately, I know it has been difficult to get some of the large retailers (like REI) onboard with registration. Maybe a city ordinance mandating bike registration at point of sale is the way to go.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

Here’s a good reply from Officer Sanders on how bike registration can stop bike theft. Worth the read:

We recognize a need to reach the ‘critical mass’ of registered bikes where it tips the scales on the effectiveness of bike registration. In PDX, we believe it’s around 100k. Currently maybe at 20,000. As more bikes are registered, this puts increased pressure on our thieves because they assume more liability. If an owner knows what they have (which includes a serial number), they are more likely to report it (via police reports, social media, online sales platforms, and registration platforms). If this occurs, the thieves are exponentially more likely to get caught.

In a perfect world, every bike would be registered and when anyone is buying a bike second hand, they would be able to verify the status of the bike using BikeIndex and Project 529. This would undercut the illegal sales of stolen bikes on the second hand market (the ultimate ends for most stolen bikes). Bike registration therefore would ‘self-regulate’ the market for stolen bikes and would disincentivize the value of stealing the bike in the first place.

There would obviously be folks, as there are now, that bury their conscience enough not to check a bike’s status, even though common sense says they are buying a stolen bike. But there are laws in place that can have some serious consequences for these actions.

I am convinced that police alone cannot solve the bike theft problem and see this as a way to shift the playing field outside of police arresting our way out of this problem. It’s not perfect and bike theft will still occur, but believe that if we are successful, we can control bike theft (long term) to low levels.

Note: Bike theft is NOT the same as car theft. I have heard it said that car theft is still an enormous problem in spite of the DMV. However, the motivations for car theft are vastly different than bike theft. Cars are stolen with the intent to assist in the commission of crimes. Bike are stolen primarily to be used as “street currency” and eventually be sold on the second hand market to make money.

Another intentional benefit would be that most stolen bikes would return to their owners! (as is the case with car theft, due to DMV). Currently, only about 10% of stolen bikes are returned to their owners.

Bike Guy
Bike Guy
2 years ago

I re-read your comment see that you stated ‘prevention’ (of bike theft) could be transferred to the SRT. Although this does sound a little like Minority Report … yes, I agree, that if the SRT can help with this issue before it comes up, then it’s worth a shot. I don’t see recovery falling under SRT’s ambit though.

Thanks for reporting on these issues.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Bike Guy

Isn’t the whole enchilada predicated on the idea that defunding (or at least replacing) police will (somehow) reduce crime?

Bike Guy
Bike Guy
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Emphasis on the (somehow), of course.

If someone wants to go try to use unarmed, social-work oriented approaches, I say we give them the chance. I don’t believe that has any connection with reducing crime, though.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
2 years ago
Reply to  Bike Guy

It will be interesting to see how the program fares after an unarmed social worker has an unpleasant encounter with the guy swinging a machete on the Springwater someone here reported a month or two ago. Social workers are not magicians, and when someone is on their eighth day of a sleepless meth bender, there’s only so much social work they can absorb before taking another swing at whatever they think is buzzing around their head.

Given the severity of the problems out there, there’s a real risk of wrong place, wrong time.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I tend to agree but have to admit I am intrigued by the CAHOOTS program in Eugene. They claim out of 24,000 calls last year they only had to call police backup 150 times. Maybe too good to be true?

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/10/874339977/cahoots-how-social-workers-and-police-share-responsibilities-in-eugene-oregon

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

I lived in Eugene during the first ten years of Cahoots, in fact I went to high school with the long-time director. Yes, it decreased officer involved violence, but if you think crime/bike theft is bad in Portland, just move to Eugene. It is widely known as the bike theft capital of the known universe. said only partly tongue in cheek.

JBone
JBone
2 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I had a crazy week long hunt for my stolen bike last year that had me recruiting a few homeless folks to help out (I found it and they were generously compensated). After getting a tip that my bike was at a camp in the Columbia slough, I went to check it out and ended up getting trapped by a group of threatening methers. Although I was prepared to defend myself, I was super grateful that my 911 call promptly produced 2 armed officers and not a social worker.

Steve C
Steve C
2 years ago
Reply to  JBone

Now just imagine if there weren’t a bunch of huge homeless camps everywhere full of desperate people stealing to support themselves. That everyone there who needed it received services to get them off the street. And if needed, treat their addiction or address their mental health issues. That’s what people are saying. Take money spent on bandaid, after the fact, expensive responses to complex social issues, and instead invest in a strong community that doesn’t throw people away. I’d bet you would have less issues with stolen bikes. You have to ask yourself why people steal bikes, what conditions produce this mindset.

And the outcome of calling in the police to get the bike back? (which I’m happy you were able to recover) Are the “threatening methers” scared of stealing bikes again after their experience with you? I don’t think so. I don’t think they’re in a place to make those choices. We literally create a humanity destroying, soul crushing carceral system then make people stare straight into it’s maw and they still seem to be impelled to jump right in. And our only policy recourse seams to be to make it more horrible and inhumane, not to mention more and more expensive each year. Seems like a misallocation of resources to me.

JBone
JBone
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve C

With all due respect, I grew up poor in a multicultural/socio/economic inner city and worked as a SPED teacher in a juvenile detention center for years so I understand all these complexities. But I’ve also seen so much time, energy, and money wasted by well intentioned bleeding hearts that embrace naive and ignorant philosophies that I’ve lost faith in the so-called progressive institutions.
Sure, there is a lot of greed in the world that leaves a lot of folks in bad positions, but if someone truly wants help out of the mire, there are many helping hands already there. (Although the neglect that I’ve witnessed in homes and in the foster population is absolutely crushing with very little social support). I could go on…
And that particular tip ended up fruitless, I didn’t call the cops to get my bike out of there but to potentially save my life.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Bike Guy

There was a great interview with the shrink who goes out on all potential mental health 911 calls in Oregon City. Yes they already have a program up and running. She is always accompanied by a cop, until she tells him/her that she can handle it without them. She has been doing this same work for Multnomah county for over a decade and was clear that she did not feel it was safe to send out a ‘street response team’ without a cop. She said that 911 call info is invariable incomplete and/or incorrect, and what they actually find is completely different.

Javier Sodo
Javier Sodo
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Thanks for the information Steve. How do you think CAHOOTS in Eugene does it without police accompaniment? Sounds like in your experience crime is bad there too? Do you think in Eugene they are more selective on which calls to send out just the social workers?

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Javier Sodo

Cahoots generally goes out without a cop, but I believe that the 911 operators have a screening system to filter out any potential danger to the responders. I had so many bikes stolen in Eugene that I stopped counting (OK, it was five in 20 years). I eventually found out that about six blocks from my house was an open-air auction of the previous day’s thefts. The thieves would bring their loot, and there was a guy with a truck that bought them and took them to another city for re-sale. Price was generally around $25 for something decent or better. I’m sure this has been shut down. It was back in the 90’s before homelessness was a big issue and the thieves were professionals, so to speak.

Jo
Jo
2 years ago

I tried calling the cops to help get when I my found stolen bikes and it was a joke. Crime is out of control and being a softie isn’t the solution.

Like everything else, things will get worse until it starts hitting some people in the pocket book. Then, and only then, will we get some change.

Until then you must never leave your bike unattended for even a minute regardless of what lock you have. Your bikes are no longer safe in a garage – they must be inside the house.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Jo

I was a private investigator in Eugene in the 90’s and a local shop called me to find their expensive stolen bikes. I found them relatively quickly, even had the address of the thieves. Cops would not respond unless I had actually witnessed the theft. Even seeing them through a window was not enough. Learned my lesson. Similar situation in Portland a couple of years later. I found the home of the local high-end bike thief up on Taylor’s Ferry. My roommate was a bit of a wild man; I knocked on the door of the guy’s house, telling him that I was UPS driver. When he opened the door, my friend bum-rushed him, dragged him out of the house and threw him down a 15′ drop into the parking lot. The kicker was that a few months later, the guy was busted by the Sheriff and he was packing a 9mm. We were just lucky. True story.

Abraham
Abraham
2 years ago

Dave Sanders,

What happened to your 300k grant you told me about this spring?