Portland Bike Theft Task Force
The leader of the Portland Police Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force (BTTF) says the unit has lost its only source of funding and will have to significantly scale back its work for the foreseeable future.
Officers with the task force had been doing regular bike registration events in partnership with Portland Parks rangers over the past few months. Last week Officer Dave Sanders took to the BTTF Twitter account to make the news public: “We are sorry to have to cancel this and other planned events,” he wrote. “Funding for our bike theft program is currently being suspended. Though the police bureau sees the value of these community efforts, we are facing larger budget cuts within our bureau that prevent us from continuing.”[Read more…]
While Portland’s protests in the name of the murder of George Floyd and ongoing police brutality in America have gotten more peaceful in recent nights, several downtown bike shop owners are still recovering from thefts that happened last week.
We’re aware of over 30 bikes that have been stolen so far. Most of them were taken on Friday, May 29th when some people who were downtown during the protest smashed windows and took products from a number of stores. The hardest hit shops have been Bike Gallery on Southwest 10th and Salmon and Pedal Bike Tours on Southwest 2nd near Ankeny.[Read more…]
Earlier this month we shared that the leader of the Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force said we could “end bike theft overnight” if everyone registered their bikes online.
Now Task Force leader Officer Dave Sanders is putting u-locks where his mouth is.
Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Abus Locks, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and registration site Project 529, the Task Force is adding a new twist to their “U Lock U Rock!” program. Once live events like Sunday Parkways start up again, they’ll be doing more cable-lock-for-u-lock exchanges. For now, all you need is a phone and an internet connection. [Read more…]
Bike thieves do not care about the pandemic. In fact, it’s probably encouraging them to steal more.
According to the Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force, bike theft in March was up 25% compared to last year. Task Force leader Officer Dave Sanders says it’s “very bad” out there right now.
The BTTF was launched five years ago this week. We haven’t reduced bike theft as much as we’d hoped, but the task force itself remains strong and is doing excellent work. While Portland is a leader in bike theft with about 10,000 bikes stolen each year (over one per hour), we are also a leader in recoveries. According to PPB data, they’ve recovered 30% more bikes so far this year than last. That’s $100,000 worth of stolen bikes back in the hands of their owners. The key? Registration.
“We could solve bike theft overnight if everyone would take a few minutes today to walk out to their garage and register their bikes,” Ofcr. Sanders shared with me this week.
Sanders is on the frontlines of the bike theft epidemic. As he scours the city looking for stolen bikes, he’s also been a victim himself. It happened back in January and it just happened again last week.[Read more…]
In a bid to make crime reporting more convenient and free up officers for other calls, the Portland Police Bureau announced this week they’ve expanded the types of crimes that can be reported online.
Along with identity theft, telephone scams, shoplifting, and other crimes, you can now use the PPB’s Citizen Online Reporting System to report a bicycle theft. The new system can be used if the value of your bicycle is below $10,000 and there are no known suspects.
Officer Dave Sanders, founder of the PPB Bike Theft Task Force, says it’s a welcome step forward. “Hopefully this will encourage more folks to report their stolen bikes,” he shared with me earlier this week. Ofcr. Sanders added that he references police reports daily in his ongoing battle against Portland’s rampant bike theft problem (they’ve already recovered over 50 bikes so far this year). “We just got a bike back for a guy this morning in spite of an absent serial number,” he shared. [Read more…]
“I think it’s a big win for the community.”
— Officer Dave Sanders, PPB Bike Theft Task Force
A man who has been booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center 80 times over a 20-year career and is considered the kingpin of bike theft in Portland is behind bars.
Leroy Parsons, who once boasted about his bike theft skills in a local television interview, has been given a 25-month prison sentence for violating the terms of his probation.
“I think it’s a big win for the community,” said Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force Officer Dave Sanders, in a statement published by the District Attorney’s Office today. “For the last 10 years, he’s been one of the pillars in downtown who networks stolen bikes.”
A new program being run by the Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force is showing early returns.
Yesterday in Old Town a man was arrested after stealing a bicycle that was equipped with a tracking device. The bike is just one in a growing fleet of bait bikes being deployed by the Task Force. It’s all part of the PPB’s ongoing effort to discourage bike theft.
As GPS devices have improved and become more accessible in recent years, the technology is finally becoming more common with law enforcement agencies. As we reported in 2015, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office arrested thieves who nabbed a bait bike from Reed College. And just last week the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was featured in a KGW-TV news story about their bait bike program.
A Washington County Sheriff told KGW, “We hope the word gets out that if you try to steal a bike… we’re going to catch you. We want the public to know that, bicycle owners to know that, as well as potential bike thieves.” (Note: I’ve been in touch with Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett to connect his officers with Portland officers for a bit of knowledge-sharing about their respective programs.)
Officer David Sanders leads the PPB Bike Theft Task Force unit. For him, using bait bikes is an important step to keep up with thieves — some of whom are now taking the unusual step of modifying serial numbers to avoid being tracked down.
I spoke with Sanders yesterday about the new bait bike program.[Read more…]