Remember to Never Lock Your Bike Only By The Front Wheel

Dear PoPville,

I was going walking past the Columbia Heights IHOP last night with a friend and saw a guy stealing a sea green Bianchi bike. Only the front wheel was locked, so he removed it via quickrelease. He had brought his own wheel to replace it, and put it on in the parking garage next to the IHOP. But since the new wheel didn’t fit, he had to carry the bike down the street. We both took a photo, called the cops, and followed the guy for about 15 minutes. Unfortunately he disappeared but we managed to show the photo and give a description to the cops (who came after about 20 minutes.) The guy was quite short, about 5 feet tall and a few inches, black, bearded, and stocky. Just wanted to put this out in case anyone has any other information. Sorry for the owner of the bike!

39 Comment

  • kudos to you! not to the cops! 20 minutes?? REALLY??

  • Good for taking action….20 minutes?? They should already have a mobile station there given the foot traffic and activity (probably only less than Chinatown and maybe Dupont for a couple square blocks). T

    here is a sub-station on Park Road, but Oh wait they can’t service anything south of Park Road. Good job in the redistricting!! Hopefully they can identify the suspect with your photo.

    Given such a busy area does anyone thing simply saying “hey that’s not your bike” would be better? I don’t know

    • If it was at 8:30-10:00 last night, the cops were busy. Big brawl at U and Vermont. Police responded in force in less than 2 minutes and kept it from getting too nasty.

  • I can’t believe that people still lock their bikes by the front wheel even if it’s not quick release. that’s the last place you want to lock you bike by. Isn’t this common knowledge by know?

  • If you have a picture, post it.

  • I am sorry, but why didn’t you confront the guy? Two adults in a highly trafficd sidewalk versus a 5′ tall guy with a wheel in one hand? C’mon. Had you walked up to him, asked him what he was doing any tell him you were calling the police, 9 times out of ten he would have bolted. How do I know, because I’ve done it twice myself in the past 4 months.

    • I wouldn’t have felt safe confronting him (I’m a small/medium build woman fwiw). And it doesn’t matter how tall the dude is if he’s armed, or if he has friends nearby.

    • +1000. “Hey, is that your bike?!” doesn’t require a 20 minute response

    • Until he pulls out a gun/knife or flips out and attacks. There are enough crazies out there to take this slightly more cautious approach.

    • I tend to agree with this. The reason these people are so brazen is because they count on us to be shaking in our boots, afraid to say a word to them. As for why people lock only their front tires (which is always a bad decision), it might have to do with the fact that those old school bike racks are ideal for those kinds of lock-ups. At the minimum, I take my u-bar and around the front tire and around the bike itself and anchor it to a u-shaped bike rack. When those old school ones are around, I use the sides of the wrack in order to lock my bike up correctly.

      • +1

        If each of us takes a small risk for others, the city becomes safer for all.

        The statements suggested above are low-risk ways to deter a criminal.

    • We DID say, “That’s not your bike.” He muttered some things and just kept walking. What were we supposed to do, physically restrain him? Even on a normally busy street like that there was hardly anyone around at almost midnight on a Wednesday night. No one else paid attention.

      • Make a scene. Yell at him. Just yell in general. If you’re sure it’s not his bike, make him feel like every person’s eyes on that block are on him. “HEY! Is that your bike!? Where are you going with that bike? Hey! This guy is stealing a bike!”

        This is not to say you did the WRONG thing. Kudos to you for calling the cops. Thieves just shouldn’t feel like they have an apathetic population around them to get away with shit like this. Particularly on that stretch where foot traffic is constant.

      • You did the right thing. Confronting someone in this situation rarely leads to anything productive. Personal safety is always more important.

    • I’m not risking my butt for some unknown person’s property. You never know if the thief is armed or is working with a lookout who could come up behind and bash you over the head. I’d rather report the incident to the cops and let them deal with it.

      Better to have the unknown person learn a lesson and lose a few hundred buck than be in the hospital with a thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

      If you are going to confront a thief, the best thing you could do is pretend that it’s YOUR bike. That will probably really freak them out.

    • If it were my bike, I would wish that passerby would speak up or try to intervene…but on the other hand, I completely understand the impluse not to, especially when it’s only property (ie, it’s not a person getting physically hurt or in distress). I mean, look what happened a while back to that resident (somewhere near U St. if I recall?) who got the crap beat out of him for simply asking a guy to not litter. I know that that’s exactly what the criminals are counting on–people either being too apathetic or too afraid to confront them–but it’s hard to ask civilian individuals to put themselves at risk to take a principled stand against that criminal element.

  • hmm so he brought his own wheel to steal the bike… maybe he simply lost the keys to the lock and figured it was the best way to get his bike home.

    • Eeh, it’s possible, but seeing as how he brought the wrong wheel (in the description, they said the wheel didn’t fit), something tells me that it probably wasn’t his bike.

      I generally know what size equipment fits my bike, and if I were to spend a bunch of money on a new wheel, I’d make darn sure I was buying the right one!

  • Also, lock the front tire too. Someone stole my front tire, presumably to “match” another bike like the one described above.

  • Please post the guy’s photo!

  • Don’t risk getting hurt for some dummy who didn’t take the time to properly lock their bike. Call MPD yes, but that’s it. Biker got what they deserved and learned a lesson. It’s a jungle out there.

  • 2 dumb things to do when you are a bike owner in a city…

    1.) quick release skewers
    2.) lock bike on wheels

    Doing both is pretty much just giving your bike away.

  • Ridiculous that the police took 20 minutes to get on the scene, but not surprising. On two occasions in the past year when I reported crimes in progress, it took the police 10 and 20 minutes to arrive. Outrageous.

    Note to MPD: FIX THIS PROBLEM. Getting to the scene while the criminal is present is the best chance of making an arrest, and the best chance of making DC a safer place to live.

    • No offense, but 20 minutes for a bike theft. Isn’t exactly slow. Cases have to be prioritized and I’d imagine if there was any actual violence taking place, that the response time would be quicker.

      • Also, no matter the bike you should lock it properly. But if you have an attractive bike, such as a bianchi, you should do your best to make it difficult to steal.

  • This is exactly how my bike was stolen at 7th and F last week.

  • Please post your picture of the guy.

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