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Old 10-08-08, 07:02 AM   #1
Alpha52
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Called the Cops - Trouble turning in bike

My wife recently noticed a bike hidden in the bushes by our house. It was just a kids size Walmart bike, but I was sure it belonged to someone in the hood.

I pulled it out and locked it to a tree, hoping someone would see it and take it back home. After five days I called the police to come and get it. When the cops show up, they walk uninvited in to my garage and start questioning me about my four bikes. At that point I reminded them that I called to have the lost bike picked up, not to discuss the contents of my garage.

The cop then asked my name, address, and phone number, to which I complied. He then asked my birth date and social security number. I refused to give him that information and told him that I didn't feel that asking me that was appropriate for the situation. He then proceeds to get on his radio and run the license number on my truck. At that point another police car rolls up, and I now have three police officers giving me this "guilty till proven innocent" look.

Now I am mad, so I tell the police we were "done", and I walked back in the garage and closed the door. Sure doesn't make me want to get "involved" in the future.
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Old 10-08-08, 07:16 AM   #2
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Funny thing is about cops is that they were probably just interested in your bikes as perhaps they cycle too? But dodging the questions become suspicious hence the radio call. I was with my coworker in his old school m3 and we got pulled over by a cop, he's african american and I am asian so we're both obviously have our senses heighten. The cop comes to the passenger side of the window and sticks his head in and goes - i love your car sorry didn't mean to pull you over but i wanted to ask you a few questions about it since I'm a car collector myself. Needless to say my maryjane buzz was gone real quickly and we sat there shooting the **** with the cop for a good 10 mins (ie: pop the hood etc)

Anyways, I agree to some extent that when you do the right thing you end up being involved in stuff you never intended on. Sorry you had that experience.
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Old 10-08-08, 07:54 AM   #3
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You've got to keep in mind that most people aren't particularly civic minded and won't report a rogue bike like you did, and most people certainly don't have multiple bikes in their garage. Both are very sad facts, but certainly out of the ordinary and worth asking about. If the cops were being hostile towards you about this, then that's another story.
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Old 10-08-08, 08:04 AM   #4
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Funny thing is about cops is that they were probably just interested in your bikes as perhaps they cycle too? But dodging the questions become suspicious hence the radio call. I was with my coworker in his old school m3 and we got pulled over by a cop, he's african american and I am asian so we're both obviously have our senses heighten. The cop comes to the passenger side of the window and sticks his head in and goes - i love your car sorry didn't mean to pull you over but i wanted to ask you a few questions about it since I'm a car collector myself. Needless to say my maryjane buzz was gone real quickly and we sat there shooting the **** with the cop for a good 10 mins (ie: pop the hood etc)

Anyways, I agree to some extent that when you do the right thing you end up being involved in stuff you never intended on. Sorry you had that experience.
I would be pretty annoyed if a cop stopped me just because he liked my car. Would you have felt comfortable saying to him that you just wanted to be on your way, minding your own business? I'm guessing probably not. He might have gotten all up in your business like in the OP's situation. That sounds like an abusive of his position if you ask me.
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Old 10-08-08, 08:57 AM   #5
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I'd report them to their department. Their behaviour is out of bounds, at least according to some friends of mine that are cops. Incidentally, you did the right thing, including not giving out all your info. And why would they ask for your address? They were parked at your house!
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Old 10-08-08, 09:10 AM   #6
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Incidentally, you did the right thing, including not giving out all your info. And why would they ask for your address? They were parked at your house!
Because some people have more than one residence. Other people own rental property and may be present at several different houses. Just because someone is standing on a piece of property doesn't mean they claim it as their official residence.
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Old 10-08-08, 10:16 AM   #7
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That sucks!

We reported stolen puppies from our yard (purebreed, papered and all that). We explicitly told them to contact us before entering our (gated) property. They didn't, and my wife ran outside just in time to see the cop shoot a tazer at one of my dogs (the big, territorial one that barks) after entering our property unannounced. Now the dog limps on the side the barb hit any time I take him jogging. (and since there was no way to prove ownership of puppies, or any dog without an under-the-skin RFID tag, we never recovered them despite knowing exactly who stole them)

I like cops, and am thankful for their duty, but I will never call one to my house again unless absolutely necessary, I will never volunteer any information without a lawyer present, and I will never agree to a search without a warrant.
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Old 10-11-08, 09:42 PM   #8
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I get the feeling sometimes that in any group of people you'll find people who aren't very bright. Sometimes the short bus goes stops at the police academy.

Coulda been the officer had a crossed wire due to bad communication at the station, or it coulda been that his spidey sense caused him to be suspicious and he got all hard on you.
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Old 10-12-08, 02:55 AM   #9
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Must have been near his review time and he needed to bust one or two more to get a raise.
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Old 10-12-08, 09:29 AM   #10
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Police academies seem to teach cadets these days to get ALL possible personal information and vehicle information at every encounter with a person and/or vehicle, and to immediately get on the radio or computer to run that information. Police work has become rather "OCD" about information. I keep expecting some beancounter to write me up for not obtaining social security numbers more often, but they have left me alone about it so far.
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Old 10-12-08, 10:07 AM   #11
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Rex G's post is quite true. I've been in law enforcement for many years, and we are always being told by the supervisors to get all the "pedigree" information we can.
There has to be some discretion on the part of the officer. Here you're just trying to be a good citizen by turning in an abandoned bike, and you get the third degree.
We don't have to write anything much on these "found property" items; we run the serial number through NCIC and if it's not reported as stolen we just fill out a little half-page form and it goes in the "found property".
Yearly or so they auction off all the unclaimed junk.

A lot of people are sensitive to giving out their social security number these days; even the university where I work has stopped using this for a campus-records identifier. Students are given a "student number", and no number appears on staff/faculty ID cards.
As you note, it's generally possible to get all this by running the license plate number; all you have to do is cross-reference the registered owner to the DOR driver's license database and there it is.
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Old 10-12-08, 10:30 AM   #12
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The cops don't know for sure that you made the call in the first place. A neighbor could
have easily called and said it was you calling. Thinking you had stolen bikes etc. They don't know who is telling the truth. If a lot of bikes in the garage seems suspicious, they don't want to announce their presence as they approach.
They need to figure out what's really happening, not what someone tells them. It's just common sense.
If one starts avoiding giving answers, of course it looks suspicious, the only way to find out the truth is to get more information. That's just life. They could be walking into any kind of situation, they need to be smart. Look at it from their point of view, they could be walking into a bike thief’s house and he may be armed. Your personal information helps them make a judgement about the situation. It is odd that some one would report a found bike.
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Old 10-12-08, 01:28 PM   #13
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There is also a syndrome developed by many police officers, caused by listening to so many lies, that EVERYONE is a liar.

I can only speculate as to the thoughts of the first officer to arrive in response to errant bike. He may have thought it a bit odd that someone would call about such a thing, and probably thought it really weird that an adult would own more than one bike. If so, he would really wonder about my place, with ten bikes in various states of assembly.
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Old 10-12-08, 06:04 PM   #14
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Old 10-12-08, 06:16 PM   #15
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I called in a bike abandoned on my front lawn before because i specifically wanted a cop to come to my house and poke around in my garage: i needed an officer to verify the vin number of a car i was restoring so i could go register it at the dmv, ha! (car didn't have the engine in yet).
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Old 10-12-08, 06:48 PM   #16
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If cops want to treat all people as suspects, then the people will suspect the motives of all cops. Great method of community policing.
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Old 10-12-08, 07:31 PM   #17
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When the cops show up, they walk uninvited in to my garage and start questioning me about my four bikes.
You know they have no right to do that without a warrant if it indeed is your private property.
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Old 10-12-08, 08:37 PM   #18
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Sorry to hear man.
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Old 10-13-08, 04:47 AM   #19
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I pulled it out and locked it to a tree, hoping someone would see it and take it back home. After five days I called the police to come and get it. When the cops show up, they walk uninvited in to my garage and start questioning me about my four bikes. At that point I reminded them that I called to have the lost bike picked up, not to discuss the contents of my garage.

The cop then asked my name, address, and phone number, to which I complied. He then asked my birth date and social security number. I refused to give him that information and told him that I didn't feel that asking me that was appropriate for the situation. He then proceeds to get on his radio and run the license number on my truck. At that point another police car rolls up, and I now have three police officers giving me this "guilty till proven innocent" look.
Yep, been there, done that. I got the same thing when I reported a bike of my own that was stolen. Then there was the other occasion when I was assaulted while waiting for a red light to change and tried to report that to the police -- the 15 minute "interrogation" to see if I "provoked" the attack in any way. When they didn't get the confession they were looking for, they simply reverted to the old "there's nothing we can do" line. Then there was the time I had a drunk trying to force his way into my apartment. I tried to "do the right thing", thinking the cops might just escort this guy home or something. Two hours later I get a phone call from the cops asking "is that guy still there?", by which time I'd simply sorted the situation out myself.

That, combined with the almost total lack of enforcement of traffic laws has convinced me that the police force here is no more than token. Reporting anything these days is just a complete waste of time.
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Old 10-13-08, 06:12 AM   #20
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"I was with my coworker in his old school m3 and we got pulled over by a cop, he's african american and I am asian so we're both obviously have our senses heighten. The cop comes to the passenger side of the window and sticks his head in and goes - i love your car sorry didn't mean to pull you over but i wanted to ask you a few questions about it since I'm a car collector myself. Needless to say my maryjane buzz was gone real quickly"

Way to break the stereotype there buddy...
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Old 10-13-08, 07:12 AM   #21
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you locked someone else bike to a tree ? right there, you are in the wrong. why the hell did you do that ? If that was my bike and I found someone locked it to a tree I'd be freaking out. You basically took possession of someone else propertly. no wonder the cops grilled you. doesn't matter what your 'intent' was, your actions were unlawful.
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Old 10-13-08, 07:43 AM   #22
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I don't want to get into a long dissertation on search and seizure law, which is not only hideously complex but constantly changing.
However, items in plain view are not subject to the same "privacy" concerns as items say, in your house.
Likewise if the homeowner was standing in the garage, it's certainly appropriate for officers to approach this person to talk to him.
You have no more expectation of privacy in that case than you would from, say, the mailman.

However, you don't have to talk to the officers. One can only surmise that the officers might have gotten a call from a neighbor or passerby to the effect that "that guy has a lot of bikes in his garage, he must be stealing them".
The above poster is quite right, most police officers are not familiar with people having a lot of bikes as we enthusiasts are prone to.
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Old 10-13-08, 08:23 AM   #23
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You know they have no right to do that without a warrant if it indeed is your private property.
They can do it, but he can also rescind the invitation and order them off his property. Folks you can always say no. You just can't use force to make it so.
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Old 10-13-08, 12:56 PM   #24
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If I where a cop and asked what your name was and you got all squirrelly acting, I might have dug a little deeper too. He may have just been dotting the eyes and crossing the tees in his report, to start with.

You may be on the watch list now, they may have you pegged for a meth lab in your garage…
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Old 10-14-08, 01:39 AM   #25
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Damn it, nothing pisses me off more than to see people make excuses for the un-ethical, and in most cases, illegal actions of the police. Those cops over stepped their bounds, they were there to pick up a bike, not interrogate a suspect. The only info they needed from Alpha was his name. To those who said he was being suspicious. Guess what? Cops find everything suspicious. He wasn't suspicious, he was trying to protect his privacy from a bunch of snoops.

Most people make the mistake of thinking that the police are paid to "protect and serve". They most emphatically are not! Police are paid to arrest people. All they care about is looking good on their next review. So, they can get a raise or promotion. They're just like the rest of us, except they do this by arresting people.

I'm sorry to say it Alpha, but you made the first mistake by talking to the police. The second mistake was inviting them to your residence. Thirdly, you didn't bend over and take it up the ass like they expected. I wouldn't be surprised if they start harassing you for a while. Be very careful driving that truck, they'll have told their friends to be on the lookout for any infractions.

Report any harassment to the DOJ and the FBI, and if you remember their names, post them on RateMyCop.com. I shouldn't have to say this, but... The police should be avoided at all costs! At the very least, don't contact them for anything less than a felony, and never invite them to your home.

Calling them over a stolen kids bike was just stupid. I understand wanting to help out, most of us have had a bike stolen at one time or another. But, in this case, you would have gotten much better results posting "found bike" flyers around the neighborhood. If, after a month, no-one has claimed it, then donate it to goodwill, or your charity of choice.

P.S. I know there are cops on these forums, and they know I'm right. Police are just like everyone else, but with the power to make your life hell. Take all your co-workers, imagine them with badges & guns. Throw in a quart of testosterone, a miserable work environment(stuck driving in a cage all day:shudder, and you've got the average police force. People are people, and power will be abused. It's an undeniable human trait.
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