Stolen bike caught on video

“Dear PoP,

On Thursday the 19th at 2:08 pm my bike was stolen right outside of my Apartment at 1701 Park Road NW. I got the two guys on video and was wondering if I could post the video on your site and ask your readers if any of them know the identity of the two youths. The police essentially told me they will not do anything unless I can call them and tell them that I can see the suspects and they should come get them. Give the video about 10 seconds to start and then you can see the whole thing in real time.”

If anyone thinks they know their identity please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll forward your info to the reader.

39 Comment

  • That totally sucks! What kind of lock did you have on it? did they cut a chain or pick a bolt lock? I just bought a bike and was actually wondering what people think about keeping it safe and hopefully not stolen. What kind of locks are the best and do people use locking skewers with any success?

    and I know you look at that video and wonder “why my bike…of all the bikes out there…why mine!”

    good luck

    • I’ve been using locking skewers for years and they’ve worked well. The main issues is using a strong lock and locking your bike in smart places (minimizing long lock-ups on the street). I use a kryptonite of the size that there is no extra room between the frame and the lock when it’s locked up. That way badguys can’t fit a carjack or other leverage- based attack tool inside.

    • I’ve been using locking skewers for two years and haven’t had any trouble. I keep my bike in my apartment, but lock it up on the street all day when I’m at work (Cap Hill/H St area). I use a kryptonite lock (the orange one) and haven’t had any problems. I also lock it up downtown and every where else when I have meetings and appointments in those areas. I really think at night is the time you need to be most concerned. My boyfriend had a 20 year old schwinn with a broken wheel stolen from a locked alley a few years ago. It was locked with a cable lock. So, if you are going to be locking your bike outside, make sure to use a U-lock at the very least.

  • Sorry to hear about the bike theft. It’s pretty demoralizing, and the DCPD are very little help.

    I’m also pretty curious about what kind of lock that was though. Chain locks in DC are obviously not worth a dime– I had a bike stolen when some folks cut through my chain lock like a wet noodle at Union Station.

    U Locks seem to have their fair share of troubles as well though. I had a bulldog mini and someone popped it right open (no idea how) and stole another bike of mine in broad daylight at 11th and U. And about two weeks ago I saw a bulldog mini popped and on the ground at the Safeway on Columbia road so I can only assume they have some sort of fundamental flaw.

    I’ve taken to taking the front wheel off my bike when I lock it– not because I’m worried about the wheel getting stolen, but simply because it would mean that any would-be robber would have to put the wheel back on, which would add an additional 20 seconds or so to the process, and perhaps lead them to choose another bike to go after instead.

    • i used to work at a job where we had combo locks on storage rooms that we occasionally forgot the combination to. these were the toughest padlocks you can buy at a place like home depot – the hardened case ones, etc. when we forgot the combos, we used the “master key” – a 24″ (maybe 30″) set of bolt cutters. if you’ve never used one of these, you’d be shocked at how easy it is to cut through a steel padlock, so a bicycle cable lock is a joke in comparison.

      as for the U locks – get the shortest one you can find, and don’t set it near the ground. thieves have discovered their weakness – if you put an automobile jack in and crank it up, the lock will pop. (

      so, make sure your U is sufficiently small or otherwise positioned in such a way that it’s full or not easy to get a jack inside of it. your best bet is the solution that’s most expensive – heavy gauge chain with a really small U lock…like the kryptonite chain:

      we’ve had this discussion before, but every lock can be broken. it’s just a matter of deterrence. if your lock says “go away” or your bike is crappy enough compared to others around it, you’re much less likely to get stolen. however, if you have a determined thief with the right tools, you’ll lose every time.

      • I have that kryptonite chain. It’s too heavy to be of any use outside of a static location (ie, you’re not going to take it with you when you go riding to lock up at your destination).

    • You need to not blame the cops for situations that the City Council (Mendolson) has created. It diverts attention from useful fixes, of which, there are none other than new At-Large Councilmen.

      As far as I’m aware, it’s illegal to use private security video as evidence of a crime (city council law).

      It’s also extremely unlikely that the kids will be prosecuted due to the belief that keeping kids from having a police record is the best way to ensure that they are employable after age 18 (Mendolson, et al.).

  • Actually, I think taking the front wheel off could be a good deterrent. Also, always lock the rear wheel to the frame and the rack.

    As to this video, why is the camera so high that you can’t really see the faces?

  • My guess would be the camera is meant to capture faces that go up to the call box, just a coincidence that it caught the theft. Fortunate too, if its just the call box camera, I’m surprised it was a running recording and that it was easily accessible for upload.

    The kid sitting on the steps does take a good look into the camera at 1:07 (13:08:21), which is also pretty fortunate. I hope.

    • I replayed it, and I don’t think they look like youths younger than 18. The tall skinny one looks Asian to me, and the shorter one seemed to have a pony tail. Kind of a distinctive pair, but I could be wrong, of course.

      One infuraiting aspect to me is that these thieves can take a $500 bike, and then they just re-sell them for $50. But, the bike owner is out the replacement cost.

  • You should send a link of this video to Cathy Lanier and the commander of your area. Lot of times the foot officers that show up to take a report won’t do anything but if you walk up their chain of command they get real motivated real fast. Don’t let the police officers with an attitude deter you from having this looked into. The least they could do would be to show the clip to all officers in tha PSA as they report for shift. Someone will recognize them. This isn’t the first time they have done this and now you have video. Easy conviction.

  • The faces are hard to make out; can you zoom in?

    Great idea — taking off front wheel to slow down the thief.

  • I think you can clearly see the lock was a cable or chain lock, as the one kid, upon completion has some sort of cutting tool. Honestly, if you lock with a cable or chain, say bye bye to your bike. I always tell people this when I see them locking up their bikes this way. I also tell them to remove the front wheel and lock it to the frame with the back wheel. So many people leave the back wheel unlocked – I tell them I could have the back wheel off in about 10 seconds max.

    That said, you might get some more help if you tell us what kind of bike it is – make, model, color, components – as these bikes often make a quick trip to Dupont Circle and other areas for quick offloading.

  • I’ve been using locking skewers for years and they’ve worked well. The main issues is using a strong lock and locking your bike in smart places (minimizing long lock-ups on the street). I use a kryptonite of the size that there is no extra room between the frame and the lock when it’s locked up. That way badguys can’t fit a carjack or other leverage- based attack tool inside.

  • So sorry to hear about your bike loss. I once had a bike stolen and remember it with a sad vividness. Other things to do:
    1) put it up in the national bike registry (if it’s stolen i think it only costs $1),
    2) make a flyer to distribute to local bike shops,
    3) setup RSS alerts for craiglist ads that feature your model of bike.

  • hey buddy,
    Can you PLEASE tell us what kind of lock you were using? Thanks.

  • Take some stills from your movie and send them to local principals. You might not hear back, but then again, you might.

  • My bike was stolen in February from the same building!

  • man on man…what I would give to have caught them in the act. I live for shit like that. You have carte blanche to release all your physical aggression on them fools.

  • My bike was stolen off of my porch on Shepherd St NW this weekend. I feel your pain and I hope you catch these a-holes.

  • This really pisses me off.

    The fact that the DC Police are worthless makes me even more angry.

  • Frustrating, and infuriating, yes. I’ve often daydreamed of putting a miniature homing device on my bike, hidden under the seat, so I could radiolocate it and track it down. If such a thing doesn’t exist, somebody ought to invent it.

    As for MPD ineffectiveness in such cases, just imagine yourself in their position: what do you do? At least you have pictures in this case, but ordinarily there’s nothing. The closure-by-arrest rate for thefts (in general, not just bicycles) in DC is a pitiful 8.2%. The police know that their chances of finding the offender are very low, and these days you’re lucky to get anything more from them than a telephone request for a theft report.

  • Sorry about your bike. I hate loser punks. Sure would like to give them a public caning. I know a guy who set up a camera from his window aimed at where he parks his car.

  • What MPD could do is buy a “bike bait.” Canadian cities and SF have such programs:

    The research says that even a small number of stings can dramatically reduce bike theft:

  • In 2005 and 2006 there was a series of vandalisms at a city trail parking lot in Pittsburgh. Someone was putting grease under car doors. After I had been hit multiple times I set out a game camera hidden as garbage and and two months of daily surveillance caught the perpetrator. It turned out to be the owner of the neighboring lot who was perturbed that the city had taken the property for a free lot.

    At no time during my dealing with local law enforcement did anyone question my use of the camera or the admissibility of the picture as evidence.

    In the end, though, he was let off because he was an old guy.

  • That sucks. What everyone is saying is right, invest in a heavy duty lock.
    Where I work a guy has a brand new Fisher Mendota ($1,150 bike) and locks it with a cable lock. I cringe every morning when I see it.
    I always carry a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit Mini and keep the heavy Kryptonite New York chain at work.

  • Listen, I know it’s too late for this situation, and I feel for you–that sucks beyond compare from so many angles But understand that NO bike is safe in the city overnight. However, if you insist on leaving a bike locked up outside overnight because you have no other recourse, use either a heavy duty real chain like a Kryptonite New Yorker Fahgettaboudit AND a higher-end U-lock or, at the very least TWO U-locks, one through the rear wheel and frame, and one locking the front wheel and frame, both to something solid and real. Also, make sure your bike is not a bling-bling, chi-chi, top of the line titanium Merlin with 14K gold and diamond mosaic head badge or similar (though to be fair, most bike thieves are NOT typical cycling enthusiast who would recognize–beyond the obvious visual quality differences–the difference between, say a King headset and a Dia-Compe or a Thomson stem over a generic one).

    And if you live at Park Regent, you could bring the bike indoors–it’s a bit of a hassle, but so is worrying about your bike all night or filling out a useless police report and spending money to replace something you already had. Even if you’re only visiting for a few hours or the night; it’s allowed at that apt. complex. Think of your bike as a pile of cash…if it’s worth it to a thief, they are going to try to steal it.

  • These JV, bush league low lifes will steal anything, from anywhere at anytime of the day. a couple years back i had a delivery guy walk into the loading dock of my office cut my ulock and walk off with my bike on camera. Nobody cares that you have their face on video. But I looked at the losers face well. Well enough that six months later I cought the same guy riding my bike down K street. I have been riding that bike now 4 years later. Let me tell you that guy won’t be stealing bikes any more.

    Keep your eyes peeled your bike hasnt left the city. Good luck

  • Thanks man, your story gives me hope! So did you call the cops or just push the guy of the bike and take it back?

  • me

    We had a few teenagers break into our shared garage and steak bikes, all on camera. We called the police, while they were robbing us, and the police came about 30 minutes later. They said we were wasting their time, and they would never find the kids as they were long gone. Well, the kids seem to hang around our block, and while I have pulled aside policemen who were walking by (they told me to call 911) or called 911 (no one ever comes out, as “no one is available”), nothing ever gets done. I am so frustrated with it!

  • No surprise here. I was mugged right in front of the building. Not in view of the camera though, and right before the security guard began his duty. Not that they’d do anything anyway…

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