July 25, 2013

Talking Bike Theft on KSCO This Morning

This morning we dropped by the studios at KSCO Radio to talk bike theft with Rosemary Chalmers and the Good Morning Monterey Bay team. It is always a great time in the KSCO studios!   Here are a few key points from our discussion: 
Recovered Bikes 

SCPD recovers hundreds of bicycles each year.  This year alone we have recovered over 500 bicycles.  Unfortunately, many of those bikes are not reunited with their rightful owners because they were either not reported as stolen, or the owner did not have vital information about the bike.   

Our storage spaces at the police department are literally chalked full of recovered bicycles.  

The police department is required to store them for 90 days, after which we repurpose them through one of our distribution programs or we dispose of them.  We would rather reunite bikes with their rightful owners.  The important point here…..report your stolen bikes with the proper information.

Here are 3 key pieces of information we need to enter a bike as stolen into the statewide database
  1. Brand
  2. # of speeds 
  3. Serial number of “Owner Applied Number” (a unique number you engrave)
We are working on a program to catalog the stored bikes with photos descriptions and serial numbers as a community reference and post them on our flicker account in hopes of reuniting the bikes with their owners.  This list will become available via our Website and smartphone app.  This will be coming in the months ahead.

Bike Chop Shops 

Bicycle theft in our community runs a broad spectrum; from kids taking a bike to organized theft rings and parts warehouses.  Recently we have seen thieves from out of the area come in with pickup trucks and teams equipped with bolt cutters.  It doesn’t take long for them to wipe out a bike rack full of bikes, throw them in the waiting truck and drive the bikes to the central valley.  

Two months ago, a group such as this was caught because someone phoned in the suspicious activity.  This gave us the clues needed to locate the truck full of stolen bikes, arrest the suspects and return the bikes back to their owners.

Last month we broke up a bike theft ring operating out of a house where the thieves were taking advantage of an elderly man and using his house as their base of operation.  

We regularly encounter chops shops in remote encampments.  Oftentimes the bicycles found are not reported as stolen.  This leaves us very few options to legally seize these bikes and everyone frustrated.

Catching the Thieves

As you can see, we seize hundreds of bikes each year, mostly from individuals we stop and investigate.  In fact, our own Deputy Chief Steve Clark recently stopped and arrested a bike thief while filming a predictive policing segment for German TV.


This only works when the bike has been reported as stolen. 
We also run bike stings using bait bikes, and yes we have a tracker.  We run longer-term investigations to get to the source of organized bike theft rings, as well as the amateurs using Craigslist and eBay.

Many bikes are taken when they are left unsecured. 

Lock your bike with a good quality lock that cannot be defeated by bolt cutters. 

  • Report Suspicious Activity
  • Keep a record of your bike brand, # of speeds, and serial number
  • Make a report if your bike is stolen.  Include a photo, we will distribute that to our patrol staff to have them look for it.  You can even submit the report online via our Website.