Oh, for the Love of (Bike) Transportation
Portland is one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. As such, we have a proliferation of bikes on the street; some nice, some funky, some barely functioning, and all in constant danger of getting ripped off. According to the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force, bike theft in the Rose City is primarily due to drug use, and most stolen bikes are sold directly to drug dealers.
The Police Bureau’s website is unclear on what the city’s drug dealers are doing with all those bikes, but they must be doing something profitable, or else using them in high-speed bicycle chases with the bike-mounted police. . .
Unfortunately, this means that, depending on how long your bike was locked up outside, it may be anywhere from relatively easy to next to totally impossible to recover. Bike theft is a frustrating, common, almost normal fact of life of living in this city. But, there are things that you can do to try to recover your stolen property. There are also steps you can take to make it easier to get your bike back should this happen to you in the future.
And, if you’re anything like the author of this post (who’s had three bikes stolen in the last decade in this town), it will probably happen again.
Start: Cry, Scream, Shake Your Fists at the Sky, Whatever You Need to Do
You are in Portland. Bikes are stolen here every single day. It’s frustrating and we as a city totally understand that. So when you come out of the coffee shop, bar, yoga studio, whatever, and find an empty rack where your bike used to be, pause.
Take a second to make sure that you remember parking it where you think you did. And then, once reality sinks in and you realize that you’ve been victimized, you should rage, cry, scream – do whatever you need to get through that first ugly moment without targeting any innocents nearby. Now go back to breathing.
Second: Craigslist, Local Bike Shops and Pawnshops, Social Media
Unfortunately, once your bike is stolen, the chances that you’ll ever get it back are slim and falling fast. You can take some action, however.
Start by monitoring Craigslist, local bike shops and pawnshops for a few days to a few weeks afterward. If you see a bike for sale in any of these outlets, call the Portland Police’s non-emergency number (503-823-3333) and they will help you get it back. Just last year, a bike was stolen from a friend’s garage in the SE part of the city. Within hours, the bike ended up for sale on Craigslist, and the citizen contacted the police to stage a sting. Bike: recovered. Criminal: arrested, with warrants already out on him.
Also, Portland is big on community, so be sure to factor that in. Take to message boards for your neighborhood, post a description of your stolen property on Facebook, tweet about it, use your community to help you try to find it and recover it.
Things to Do to Keep It From Happening Again
The Portland Police Bureau recommends registering your bicycle with one of their partner organizations, Project 529 or bikeindex.org. Additionally, buying the best lock you can afford may keep you from having to replace your bike again.
Going forward, try not to leave your bicycle locked up for too long in the same place, and always try to park it with other locked bicycles, employing the herd mentality for protection.
You might also look into whether your renter’s policy or homeowner’s insurance will offer you any compensation for stolen property not at home, or check into purchasing some bicycle insurance if you truly rely on your bike for transportation to work. What almost feels like a fact of life in the Rose City doesn’t have to happen again or hurt as bad, if it does!