Meet the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
After a false start earlier this month, the Portland Police Bureau launched its task force to address the growing problem of bike theft, with a webpage and Twitter handle dedicated to theft prevention and tips.
The Bicycle Theft Task Force pairs community members, including Bike Portland's Jonathan Maus, Project529's J. Allard, BikeIndex's Bryan Hance, and Portland Bureau of Transportation's Daniell Booth, along with two PPB offiicers who will spend a combined 20 hours a week dedicated to bike theft. It is designed to offer resources to the community for preventing and reporting bike theft.
"We're here because we have seen an alarming rise in the number of bikes being stolen in Portland," said Chief Larry O'Dea. "Our data shows that we had over 2,700 reported bike thefts in 2014 and bike theft is costing Portlanders an estimated $2 million every year.'
O'Dea said the police will to partner with organzations and the community, with a goal to reduce reported bike theft by 50 percent in five years.
"People should be able ride their bikes to where they need to go, whether that is a school, store or work, and feel confident that their bike will be there when they return," said City of Portland Transportation Director Leah Treat. "We want to help people understand how to prevent bike theft and how we all can help police recover stolen bikes."
Treat said if people do not feel confident parking a bike without it being stolen, they are less likely to cycle for transportation.
Maus said the task force calls to the community to report thefts, lock up bikes properly, register bikes, and volunteer to help end bike theft.
Related Slideshow: 10 Ways to Fight Bike Theft
Register Your Bike
It is the simplest and most effective way to make sure you get your bike back after it's stolen. It lists your bike’s serial number with your name officially with the police.
If filling out paper work is too much trouble, at least make sure you have a picture of the bike and know the serial number. This information will help police find your bike and return it.
Know Your Insurance Policy
Some homeowners and renters insurance policies will cover bike theft. Hoffman said her renters insurance covered a large portion of her stolen bike, allowing her to buy a new one.
However, if you end up finding the stolen bike, you will have to buy it back from the insurance company.
When locking your bike, stay away from the cheap options. Allard said 70 to 90 percent of bike thefts are from cable locks, which can be cut through with any $20 dollar cable cutter.
A U-lock is much harder for a thief to dismantle, unless they use power tools. Locking the U-Lock through the frame and tire also helps, making it hard for the thief to make off with your wheel or ride away.
Be conscious of where you lock your bike. Try in front of ATM or other busy places with security cameras. Also, avoid areas near electrical sockets so thieves can’t use power tools to cut bike racks or U-locks.
Although finding a safe spot to lock up may add a few minutes walk to your travel, it is well worth the price of your bike.
Try the Police
If your bike is stolen, make sure to report it to the police. Many victims assume it is not worth time or some even try to track down the bike on their own. Although many bike crimes go unsolved or prosecuted, some do have happy endings. Why not use all your resources?
And if your bike is registered, you have a better chance getting it back.
Make Friends With Your Local Bike Shop
Bicycle shops are a great resource, whether your bike is stolen or not. They have a touch on the pulse of the local bike world. If your bike is stolen, check in to see if they have seen it brought in for repairs, or ask if you can post a missing flyer.
They also can provide helpful tools and tips for keeping your bike safe from thieves, so it doesn't get stolen in the first place.
Download An App
Technology is helping fight bike crime, one app download at a time. Portland’s Project 528 has one app that makes it easy to register your bike, and another that uses a network of bikers to send out an alert system if your bike is stolen.
The Cricket sends an alarm to your Smartphone every time somebody touches your bike.
BikeSheppard also has an app to help register and report a stolen bike.
Crowdsource, Crowdsource, Crowdsource
BikeIndex.org. StolenBikeRegistry.com. NationalBikeRegistry.com. There are a number of websites that list serial numbers from stolen bikes. They also allow people who see suspicious bike advertisements to check to see if it is stolen property.
Social media is also helpful for spreading the word to friends and members of the biking community about your missing property.
Expand Your Search
Just because your bike was stolen in Portland doesn’t mean it stays in Portland. A majority of bike thefts are part of large criminal operations. Allard said many times police will come across a number of stolen bikes while breaking up other crimes. Yet it could be hundreds of miles away from where your bike was stolen. So try police departments around the state.