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  1. #1
    Junior Member Roni Solomon's Avatar
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    I am curious as to how ethical this is

    Okay, so I have been going to the same college for three years, and near where I live on campus there are these two bikes that I am 100% certain, have not moved for the entire duration of my college experience. One is a Nishiki something or other, and another is a Schwinn Traveller. Both bikes have already been lightly stripped, and are definitely not in any type of riding condition in their current state. Both bikes have a bit of surface rust, they have some plow damage to the rims, and the tires have begun to decay from being in the elements for so long. Would it be wrong to remove them and get them back into working order, then give them to people? For the past year, I have been finding bikes on the side of the road, repairing them, then giving them to people who need them. These two bikes appear to be just as abandoned, however they are locked to the side of a building, thus my moral dilemma. I know stealing is wrong, however, these bikes appear to be forgotten completely. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.
    Special bicycles require special tubing.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    It would not be stealing. Obviously original owners dont care about those bikes anymore. And since you're going to use them for such a good purpose, you should not feel bad at all. I say go for it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by crypticlineage
    It would not be stealing. Obviously original owners dont care about those bikes anymore. And since you're going to use them for such a good purpose, you should not feel bad at all. I say go for it.
    It WOULD be stealing. They do NOT belong to you. Taking anything that does not belong to you is stealing. I think i learned that somewhere around kindergarten. So does the good you intend to do, outweigh the bad? Morally perhaps, but not legally.

    Personally I think fixing up someone else's bike without their permission and giving it to someone else isn't all that great. If you use the argument that it is ok to take something just because somebody isn't using it, then you should have a collection of human brains in your closet.

  4. #4
    married to the bike Halfstep's Avatar
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    Check with the local or campus police, depending on where the bikes are. Most communities have some sort of junk ordinance. See if they'll tag the bikes, go through the bureaucracy of removing them, and then give (or sell them at a cheap price) to you. You get the bikes without any guilt. All you need is a little patience.
    "If people insist on rowing or jogging or bicycling, can't we at least get them to deliver the mail?" -- Bill Hall, Lewiston, Idaho, Tribune

  5. #5
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crypticlineage
    It would not be stealing.
    general rule of thumb: If you have to cut through a lock to get it, it just might be stealing.

  6. #6
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Notify the police that these bikes are abandoned and getting stripped
    of parts. The may want to come and get them but if you offer to re-hab
    them and give them away they may say 'go for it'. Just let the local
    police know that they are there and you are not stealing them.
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    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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  7. #7
    Mooninite shakeNbake's Avatar
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    Check with the police.

    And yes taking them is STEALING.

  8. #8
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    LIkely the police will pick them up and throw them in with the thousand other bikes that will get auctioned. There are police bike auctions all the time, that is why they have them. Let the police play Robin Hood this time.

  9. #9
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    I agree, it's stealing.

    IIRC, my college had a program where at the end of the year, any bikes left on the racks would be removed (with bolt cutters if necessary) and I think donated to Goodwill.

  10. #10
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfontain
    I agree, it's stealing.

    IIRC, my college had a program where at the end of the year, any bikes left on the racks would be removed (with bolt cutters if necessary) and I think donated to Goodwill.

    So it's not stealing if it's institutionalised?

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    So it's not stealing if it's institutionalised?
    Property that is abandoned by may be removed and disposed by the property owner, or other responsible authority. In this case, the university is certainly not required to leave abandoned bikes where they are indefinitely. At their discretion, once they have determined that the bikes are most likely abandoned, they may remove them and dispose of the property. Disposal is generally done at auction if the item is perceived to have any significant value.

    If it weren't for this, our cities/campuses would quickly fill up with all manner of abandoned cars, bikes, refrigerators, etc. This would be to everyone's detriment.

  12. #12
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    So it's not stealing if it's institutionalised?
    No, it isn't stealing if someone abandons their stuff on your property. After a certain period and with attempts made to contact the owner you can do whatever you want with the stuff.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roni Solomon
    Okay, so I have been going to the same college for three years, and near where I live on campus there are these two bikes that I am 100% certain, have not moved for the entire duration of my college experience.
    Avoid all appearance of doing wrong... Since this sounds like it is on campus, contact the college since the bikes have been abandoned on their property... I would probably talk to the security office. If the College says that you can have them, then do it.

  14. #14
    Mad scientist w/a wrench
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    I'd say its not stealing if its within abandonment ordinances, but going through channels is probably the better way to go.

    another option: find the serials, look them up and try to contact original owners...if successful you could get their authorization and then do as you plan to with them. Since the police may not want to let you take them (if you notify them first) you may find this is a better and technically still legal option
    Proudly wearing kit that doesn't match my frame color (or itself) since 2006.

  15. #15
    Junior Member Roni Solomon's Avatar
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    I contacted my campus safety and facilities departments this afternoon. The policy they have is to not do anything about it unless the rack needs to be removed, or the bike obstructs construction, or pathways. Bikes in good working order are put into storage for one school year so they may be claimed, then are taken away to the scrap yard if they go unclaimed. With the bikes that are abandoned, damaged, or stripped, they just take them to the scrap yard immediately. The gentleman I spoke with who was part of facilities was familiar with the bikes I was interested in salvaging, noting that they have been there for many years. He said it truly is a shame how many hundreds of bikes they have thrown away over the years, but there is nothing they can do about it. I asked him why there wasn't some type of donation program set up, and he replied "because, simply, nobody wants them, all they're good for is scrap."

    I rest my case.
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  16. #16
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    Even though the bikes may have been sitting there for years, check first with the university PD, or officials there, and get some official written permission before cutting the locks off, or cutting them off yourself. A lot of places will just say "wait 30 days, and its yours", but always make sure first... this is not a case where forgiveness is easier to get than permission.

    Asking and perhaps having to wait until a police auction is far better than getting nailed down the line for misdemeanor theft charges and being tagged with a criminal record as true bike thieves.

  17. #17
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roni Solomon
    Bikes in good working order... are taken away to the scrap yard if they go unclaimed.
    Well that's a shame, but who cares as long as no one's breaking the law?

    I really don't understand why some people are so dogmatic about this question. Do you guys all determine your own ethics solely on the basis of whether or not something is legal?

    Obviously what he is suggesting doing is illegal, that wasn't the question. Running stop signs is illegal. Jaywalking is illegal. But I don't loose sleep over it. He asked if it was ethical.

    Sure it's illegal. But no one's going to catch him and furthermore no one's going to care! Roni, I believe what you want to do is totally ethical, good luck.
    ...and don't forget to stretch!

  18. #18
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    Though apparently not the case here, I know of one campus where theft was a problem and campus police "planted" a couple of old bikes to "bait" thieves.

  19. #19
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcnmoon
    Though apparently not the case here, I know of one campus where theft was a problem and campus police "planted" a couple of old bikes to "bait" thieves.
    And they waited three years to catch the theif?
    ...and don't forget to stretch!

  20. #20
    Dr.Deltron
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    Like running a stop sign, It only seems to be "illegal" if you get caught!
    Take your biggest bolt cutters and good luck referbishing them. Nice that you would spend time to do that and not SELL them.
    And if you DO get stopped, just tell them that is YOUR old lock that you lent to a friend and he never gave it back. They can then take the bike to the scrap pile.

    Just do it!! ...Don't ask. Don't tell!

    and all those that say otherwise, follow them for a day and see if they come to a complete 2 second stop AT EVERY STOP SIGN!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximusvt
    I really don't understand why some people are so dogmatic about this question. Do you guys all determine your own ethics solely on the basis of whether or not something is legal?

    Obviously what he is suggesting doing is illegal, that wasn't the question. Running stop signs is illegal. Jaywalking is illegal. But I don't loose sleep over it. He asked if it was ethical.
    I agree somewhat. In this case, I would tend to think that tstealing is both illegal AND unethical. If attempts to contact the current owners fail, and police clear it, then it becomes both ethical and legal to take the bikes. I know you have a good ends, but it may not justify the means.

    On a different note, if you choose to live in a state not a state as in one of the 50...), and benifit from its existence, then you should either choose to live by those laws or breaks them in a peacefull act of defiance AND suffer the associated punishments. Poor wording I am sure, but Socrates covered this one pretty well, and I am inclined to agree with the principles.

  22. #22
    Junior Member Roni Solomon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Deltron
    Nice that you would spend time to do that and not SELL them.
    Thanks, I make it a point not to have people pay me for them. I rebuilt 20 bikes over this past summer, and I didn't "sell" a single one. Just seeing people riding the bikes that I built up is all the payment I need.
    Special bicycles require special tubing.

  23. #23
    Senior Member divineAndbright's Avatar
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    3 years, parts stripped.. I personally would say big deal about taking them, you know they are abandoned so whoopdedo, the only reason I personally wouldnt take them is because they are locked up.

    If you want em that bad just get in touch with the campus and tell em they've been there for 3 years and pretty much trash in their current condition but you'd like to fix em up. I'd ask them about it instead of the police, as I think the police are less likely to say you can have em.

  24. #24
    Senior Member dave80909's Avatar
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    Well as they say "No good deed go unpunished".
    I would say it's ok, but keep in mind that you could get nailed for
    theft, and it is just the sort of thing that campus security geeks live for;
    Busting YOU and your evil empire bike theft/ drug smuggling ring.

    I like what your doing, and I do a simular thing here in C.Springs
    http://cosprings.craigslist.org/wan/219729348.html

  25. #25
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    I'm a philosopher by trade. I normally charge $30/hr when producing moral justifications, but since you are a BF member I'll cut you a deal at $20/hr. PM me if/when you clip those bikes free.

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