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  1. #1
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    Good news for bicycle thieves!

    A year and a half ago, I had a Specialized Hardrock that I paid $350 for stolen from me. It was locked up outside the public library I was visiting. Afterwards, I reported it to the police who took my report and responded that stolen bicycles are not a high priority for them. I also told the library officials that a video camera should be placed outside where the bike rack is so things like this wouldn't happen and the thieves could be caught. They said it wouldn't be cost effective. I asked my city council man to talk to them about it. He later said he talked to them and that they "might" re-aim one of their internal cameras (which they have about 15 of) to see the bike rack outside. This has never been done.

    Well, here we are 1.5 years later, and I got a letter in the mail from the police department saying that my bike had been recovered. Someone had tried to sell it at a pawn shop. Great news, right? I got my formerly pristine bike back trashed! But I figured I could get compensation from the person who tried to pawn it, since the police had their name, and the police said that the case was being forwarded to the District Attorney's office for prosecution. But then I call the D.A.s office only to find out that their was no case after all. They said they didn't believe that the person who tried pawning it was the actual thief, but that this person had bought the bike from someone else, who bought it from someone else, etc. They also said that this person wouldn't say who he bought it from. And since they, nor I can prove that he was the actual thief, he won't be prosecuted. As far as being in possession of stolen property, they said he would have to be "knowingly" in possession of property that was stolen in order to be prosecuted for it.

    So there you have it folks! The police catch the guy red-handed with my bike that was stolen from me and reported to the police, and my bike is trashed, and they let the guy go, even though he won't reveal who he bought the bike from. Thieves have it made. But we taxpayers don't!!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    It is quite possible that the guy who had your bike wasn't the thief, nor the person who did the damage, nor aware that it was stolen. You may someday be glad that the rule is still "innocent until proven guilty."

    Sorry to hear about your bike getting trashed, though If you don't have renter's insurance, you may want to consider getting it, it isn't very expensive and would cover this type of thing.

  3. #3
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    Do you have any idea how many times that bike probably changed hands in 1.5 years? I wouldn't have arrested him either. They are right, you have to prove he was the thief or that he knew it was stolen.

  4. #4
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    As far as I know in this country you can be arrested for possessing stolen property regardless of whether you knew it was stolen or not.

    On the vigilante route, can you get his name? Everyone's guilty of something...
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  5. #5
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    If it had been a motor vehicle, you can lay a sure bet that it would have been recovered and the person who had it charged with possessing stolen property.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  6. #6
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    I thought possetion of stolen property was a crime, regardless.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    You paid $350.00 for it. That makes the theft a misdemeanor. Like it or not, the police and the prosecutor are going to limit the amount of resources they expend on such a case. That's just the way it is. Trying to get the original thief (if you could find him) to pay for the subsequent damage to your bike is probably a dead end too. If he had any money that you could attach he probably wouldn't have to steal bikes.

    Sucks doesn't it.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    My wifes new bike was stolen about 14 years ago. Police were informed but recovery was going to be remote. In the Next few months- I saw the bike- It was a Peculiar model of GT in a small size. I reported the fact to the Police and they did not want to know. Had a friend of mine confirm the this lad was riding a bike he had stolen and resprayed and still the Police did nothing. About a year later the Police informed me that the Thief had been found but he was no longer in posssession of the bike- no name was given to me but I knew who he was. They would not inform me of the thiefs name just in case I took retribution on him. I did not have to, as he stole another bike from someone who was bigger than me and he could not ride a bike for about 6 months.

    Vigilantes have their uses.
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  9. #9
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    Better a hardrock than a litespeed.

    The key is to make your commuter look uglier and therefore less desireable than the other bikes around it. I suggest lots of black electric tape and bumper stickers.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1k1ng1001
    Better a hardrock than a litespeed.

    The key is to make your commuter look uglier and therefore less desireable than the other bikes around it. I suggest lots of black electric tape and bumper stickers.
    That, and lock it well enough to deter as many thieves as possible. mech's crazy locking ideas

  11. #11
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torellian
    So there you have it folks! The police catch the guy red-handed with my bike that was stolen from me and reported to the police, and my bike is trashed, and they let the guy go, even though he won't reveal who he bought the bike from. Thieves have it made. But we taxpayers don't!!!
    This surprises you? I wouldn't have bothered reporting it in the first place.
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  12. #12
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    You paid $350.00 for it. That makes the theft a misdemeanor. Like it or not, the police and the prosecutor are going to limit the amount of resources they expend on such a case. That's just the way it is. Trying to get the original thief (if you could find him) to pay for the subsequent damage to your bike is probably a dead end too. If he had any money that you could attach he probably wouldn't have to steal bikes.

    Sucks doesn't it.
    So if it were a $500 bike or a $1000 bike, do you seriously think the police would have done any more investigation?

  13. #13
    Respect Your Hill spindog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    So if it were a $500 bike or a $1000 bike, do you seriously think the police would have done any more investigation?
    Actually, if it was a $10,000 bicycle, the Police wouldn't do any more investigation. It sounds to me that they did their investigation based on the information given and they were not convinced that the person who turned it in had any knowledge that the bike was stolen.

    As already mentioned in other posts, the bike has likely changed hands many times. Most thieves are not going to sell an item such as a bicycle (that has identifying serial numbers on it) to a pawn shop. The reason being, that in order to sell to a pawn shop, the seller needs to present the pawn shop owner with a valid state ID which is recorded along with a signature. Most pawn shops also photo copy the seller's drivers license for their records and they are also under video surveillance.

    To steal a bike and then use your state ID to pawn it is like someone robbing a bank and leaving their drivers license, phone number and signature on the counter on the way out. That's why most people who pawn stuff like that are not the original thieves.

    Even if the police suspected that the seller was the thief or suspect that he knew who originally stole the bike, they couldn't just go and arrest the seller. After collecting what evidence they have, an arrest warrant affidavit needs to be completed. This affidavit then gets brought to a state's attorney (prosecutor) who either agrees that there is enough evidence to support an arrest or they kick it back and say "sorry, I don't think that there is enough evidence supporting that this guy is guilty".

    But, if the prosecutor thinks that there is probable cause that the suspect (guy who sold bike to pawn shop) is guilty of the charges being soought, then the prosecutor signs the arrest warrant affidavit. Then it goes to a judge and they go through the same process again. If the judge thinks there is probable cause, then he/she signs it and then the cops can arrest the dude.

    Then of course, the guy gets arrested, he gets a court date and needs to go through the court BS before he is either convicted or told to take a hike. Sounds like this case would get dropped because they really have nothing on this guy. Maybe he bought it at a church tag sale. Who knows.

    Torellian, I am sorry that your bike got trashed. I can understand your frustration. Most bike theives automatically grind off the serial numbers and then repaint the bike with spray Rustoleum to make it unidentifiable right off the bat. It's unfortunate that this happened, but even if an arrest was made - you wouldn't get sh*t for $$ because they would automatically depreciate the value to nothing. Not to mention that the thief is likely to have nothing to repay you with anyways.

    So, before you diss the cops > understand that there are some bad cops - some good cops, some lazy cops -and some very hard working and competent cops.

    Good luck to you. Even though they didn't catch the thief this time, hopefully they will nail him next time.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    So if it were a $500 bike or a $1000 bike, do you seriously think the police would have done any more investigation?
    In Missouri the magic number is $1,500. That's determined by what you paid for it so stealing the same bike may or may not be a felony depending on whether it's stolen from a shop who bought it at wholesale or from an individual who paid retail. It's the same amount of work either way but the cops would rather make a felony arrest.

  15. #15
    jwc
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    I bought a car once that turned out to be stolen. Besides being awaken at 2am by Livermore PD's detectives and a SWAT team, I wasn't charged with anything.

  16. #16
    Opt-in Member GreenGrasshoppr's Avatar
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    I had a theft deterrence idea once... but it requires a lot of work...

    My idea was to buy a bike for as little money as possible, and clean it up and make it look attractive for a thief.

    Then make an essential part of the bike very fragile and likely to fail after a couple of blocks of riding, causing a critical crash.

  17. #17
    Senior Member kerk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenGrasshoppr
    I had a theft deterrence idea once... but it requires a lot of work...

    My idea was to buy a bike for as little money as possible, and clean it up and make it look attractive for a thief.

    Then make an essential part of the bike very fragile and likely to fail after a couple of blocks of riding, causing a critical crash.
    Yeah, these days the thief would sue you, and win, for that.
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  18. #18
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    Wasn't there a Uni that was installing GPS tags randomly onto decoy bikes so that they could deter, or even catch bike thieves? There ought to be a national system for this kind of thing. It's ridiculous with people riding multi-$K bikes that there's not nearly as good a system for catching thieves as it is with cars.

  19. #19
    Descends Like Avalanche HigherGround's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blickblocks
    Wasn't there a Uni that was installing GPS tags randomly onto decoy bikes so that they could deter, or even catch bike thieves? There ought to be a national system for this kind of thing. It's ridiculous with people riding multi-$K bikes that there's not nearly as good a system for catching thieves as it is with cars.
    It won't happen unless the tag can be made out of carbon fiber and titanium, weigh less than an ounce, and be prominently displayed for all your friends to know how much you paid for your bike bling!
    The rider in my avatar is David Etxebarria, not me.

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I already do this IF I ever have to leave my bike for more than 10 seconds. Release the V Brakes- very easy to do- and take the front QR out.

    Friend of mine did this and had his bike stolen- Whilst the robber was nursing a cut lip and a couple of broken teeth- He phoned the Police. Took them over an hour to arrive with with the thief in agony and my mate standing over him daring him to move. Only time I reckon the police were too quick on a call.
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  21. #21
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by blickblocks
    Wasn't there a Uni that was installing GPS tags randomly onto decoy bikes so that they could deter, or even catch bike thieves? There ought to be a national system for this kind of thing. It's ridiculous with people riding multi-$K bikes that there's not nearly as good a system for catching thieves as it is with cars.
    That would be the University of Toronto.

    So there you have it folks! The police catch the guy red-handed with my bike that was stolen from me and reported to the police, and my bike is trashed, and they let the guy go, even though he won't reveal who he bought the bike from. Thieves have it made. But we taxpayers don't!!!
    I see absolutely no injustice reported here. All of what the police has said is true.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member shoerhino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    I see absolutely no injustice reported here. All of what the police has said is true.
    I think that there is some unjustice here. The person in posseison of the bike should be pressed to answer where the bike came from. If this person didn't know it was stolen property, why would there be reluctance. If more people would cooperate, the police might be able to find who the person(s) responsible are. Although you might not be able to prove that a spcific person stole this particular bike but if several "owners" of stolen bikes all finger one person, that would be pretty good clue but the poilce really don't take (or maybe have) the time to follow up on such leads.

    People who steal bikes probably graduate and steal more expensive items (certainly not always true but probably more true than not) and probably earn more attention from police later in life.

  23. #23
    . blickblocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I already do this IF I ever have to leave my bike for more than 10 seconds. Release the V Brakes- very easy to do- and take the front QR out.

    Friend of mine did this and had his bike stolen- Whilst the robber was nursing a cut lip and a couple of broken teeth- He phoned the Police. Took them over an hour to arrive with with the thief in agony and my mate standing over him daring him to move. Only time I reckon the police were too quick on a call.
    That's amazing.

  24. #24
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    Hello, Torellian, let me help you see why I chose to not use regular non folding bicycles-even at a rock bottom price as your bike was at purchase.

    ...Specialized Hardrock that I paid $350-Torellian

    That is a good price for a bike purchased at a good bike shop. But if you buy one, even with all the locks and the right attitide to protect your investment, in most places here in North America you stand to suffer at least one bike theft in your cycling life.

    It was locked up outside the public library-Torellian

    30 years ago I had my beautiful Dutch make sport bike stolen from my local public library too. Thieves favor places where people congregate and lock up bikes for a probable long period of time.

    the police who took my report and responded that stolen bicycles are not a high priority for them-Torellian

    You are lucky that they even took the time to speak to you. Here in Southern California, I don't think they bother filling out their police reports anymore except for celeberties or rich people.

    ...a video camera should be placed outside where the bike rack is so things like this wouldn't happen and the thieves could be caught.-Torellian

    And I expect a visit from Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Video cameras are passive theft preventing devices. Much like a lock except no one pays much attention here where I live. It is mainly intended to pacify the nervious remaining middle class fools that still buy into that worthless garbage idea.

    they "might" re-aim one of their internal cameras (which they have about 15 of) to see the bike rack outside. This has never been done. They said it wouldn't be cost effective.-Torellian

    The public officials operate on a very simple premise-looking good, get reelected, and get their paycheck. You are simply in the way for them.

    Learn some simple coping mechanisms for the new age of crime and criminals:

    Don't depend on police protection or insurance-get good locks, bars and a good dog.

    Use different bikes for different activities. Stop leaving your bikes out where others can tamper with them.

    Buy at least one folding bike for errands, travel, and possible stops along the way and take it with you at all times (no locking allowed). Where I live and work now, this type of bike is the only one I buy and use. The price range is from $200 up to $4000. So I don't think that most people would be hard press to buy one. If you can afford a 300 dollar bike, you can get a folder.

  25. #25
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    shoerhino,
    How do you suggest that the police "press" for an answer? Trust me, the real bad guys know I can't legally use force to get information.

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