Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Underrated crime

I'll admit it. I'm guilty of it too. Bicycle thefts have never been on my list of serious crime. Despite the fact that I've owned one or more pricey steeds continuously since my freshman year in college (yes, the bicycle had been invented), I've never been the victim of a theft. If I had been, I'm sure it would be much higher in my hierarchy of criminality. Being a victim yourself tends to do that. It has moved up a notch however, in the wake of last Wednesday's ACUDAT meeting.

The Crime Analysis Unit made a nice catch recently. Sgt. Grant Richards discovered a group of half a dozen stolen bikes that were pawned by a thief on the same day of the theft. The going sale price for a really nice bike at a pawn shop is $50. Not bad for a Kona Unit 2-9 valued at $943. Doing a little research, Sgt. Richards found three other suspects who have been pawning stolen bikes regularly of late.

This was good work by the Crime Analysis Unit, but it shows we've got to redouble our efforts to prevent thieves from using pawn shops to offload stolen high-end bicycles. It's easy for pawn brokers to check our stolen property records to determine if a bike has been reported stolen (although the stolen report is about a day behind the crime), and it's also easy for the investigating officer to check our electronic pawn records to determine if the stolen bike has turned up in a pawn shop after a couple weeks have passed. There are several other ways to dispose of a stolen bicycle, and I seriously doubt that pawnshops are anywhere close to being the most common method. Nonetheless, that's a fairly easy door to close more firmly by diligent checks.

Here's why it's important. Bicycle theft is an underrated crime. So far this year, there have been 494 bike thefts in Lincoln. The loss has been $100,305. That's not even counting the 71 burglaries in which bicycles were among the stolen goods. Last year, the total dollar loss from bicycle theft was $125,301. Robberies, by comparison resulted in a total loss of $92,839.


Anonymous said...

Do those numbers include bikes stolen on both UNL campuses and reported to UNLPD?

Anonymous said...

I never understood why someone pays that much for a bike when they have bikes at Wal-Mart for just over $100.00.

ARRRRG!!!! said...

That's odd, I never lock my bike, but no one ever steals it. I must live in a good neighborhood.

Stay in school.

mike said...

And from Southern California:
College campus bike thefts spike sharply

Anonymous said...

not to mention the fact a lot more people might be riding bikes due to the gas prices. For some it is their only transportation to work. Not to beat a dead horse, but from the previous blog, I think the officer that took the call from the 7yr old "non-responsive"girl should be getting paid the same as the therapist for the time he took for doing the "therapist's" job.

Jenn =)

Tom Casady said...

7:23 -

No, that's just thefts reported to the Lincoln Police Department.

Anonymous said...

I understand that bicycles aren't the highest on the priority list but how can you compare a larceny of a bike to robbery. Robbery is a violent crime. Shouldn't you compare the dollar value to some other larceny like larceny from auto.
Obviously the community doesn't feel that their bike being stolen is a high proriety either. That's to bad because if they would write their serial numbers down, we wouldn't have so many bikes going on the public auction after they are found.
I always love to get that call of a stolen bike and then find out the vict stole that bike in the first place.
Maybe we should just have bikes laying around all over the city that people could just use whenever they wanted, then just leave it somewhere for someone else to use. :)
Bike larceny problem solved.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

As the victim of two bicycle thefts in the past 15 years I would be all for licensing and tagging bicycles if it didn't cost more than $10 annually. And a serial number was registered at tagging.

Gun Nut

Tom Casady said...

11:06 -

Google "Yellow Bikes" and I think you're likely to find just what you are talking about.

And yes, robbbery v. bike theft is a false comparison. My point is that from the admittedly narrow standpoint of the dollar loss, bicycle theft trumps robbery. Obviously, robbery--with its element of violence or threatened violence--is a more serious crime, and quite different. Believe me, I know from personal experience.

LPD172 said...

You can register your bike both free and easily by going to the LPD public website.

Under "ONLINE SERVICES" you will see "Forms and Applicatons". There you can use on on-line form to document your name, phone number, bike description and serial number.

You don't get a sticker to put on the bike, but we will at least have your serial number and an idea of who owns the bike if we find it.

Anonymous said...

What proportion of the stolen bikes are properly secured to an immovable object (bike rack, railing, etc), using a lock appropriate to the value of the bike?

Tom Casady said...


Oh, given some time I could figure out a way to do that analysis. I'd guess it's around half-and-half on locked/unlocked, and that usually the lock that is attacked is pretty lame--standard bolt cutters or even Vise Grips would do the trick.

Anonymous said...

To explain further about the lock being appropriate to the bike's value, we can say that we wouldn't expect to see this monster (which also looks like a fine ad hoc defensive flail) securing an $80 Huffy, nor would we expect to see $5 combo chain lock between a thief and your Serotta Meivici.

Zen said...

Walmart bikes are made with shoddy parts, bad frames, and cost more to repair than it takes to buy a new one. I put 10 miles a day on my bike-a WM bike would be more headache than its worth with that kind of mileage.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy it. I had a Huffy all through college and my early days of employment and I rode it several miles a day and it held up just fine. I rode it to the end of the trail in Eagle from S 84th more than once. I still have it in the garage and ride it every now and then and it's fine.

I think the expensive bikes are bought mainly because people are too embarrassed to be seen on the cheap Huffy.

Grundle said...

Good luck finding a Huffy with an aluminum frame, disc brakes, and rapid-fire shifters. These are the kinds of things that high-end bike riders look for, and cannot find in department store bikes. Now, the Schwinn/Huffy/Next/Mongoose bikes you find today will work just find for the casual bike rider...but for people who log SERIOUS miles on their bikes (over 100 miles a week), these bikes just won't cut it.

Anonymous said...

Explains why our shop has been getting so many calls about weather we take in Bikes or not (we don't).

- Lincoln Pawnbroker