Props to the Cops (and Concerned Citizens) – Stolen Bikes Recovered

Photo by PoPville flickr user KJinDC

“Dear PoPville,

A few buddies and I were watching football on the front patio at Lou’s City Bar in Columbia Heights around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon when my friend glanced outside and saw two guys carrying away bikes belonging to her and her husband. My friends had locked the bikes up across Irving street from Lou’s while we were watching the game, and these guys had successfully cut the lock and were brazenly walking away carrying (not rolling) the bikes, in broad daylight, with dozens of people out and about. Nobody else appeared to notice them cutting the lock or walking away with these bikes in hand.

We confronted the two guys in an alleyway behind Target, off of Irving; one of them was still holding a small pair of bolt cutters (maybe 10” long) and was trying to remove the remnants of the lock, which had coiled up around the front wheel. The other reached in his jacket and said “I’m gonna smoke you,” but fortunately pulled out just an empty hand. After a very short standoff, a couple of punches thrown by one of the thugs, and a tug-of-war over one of the bikes, the guys left the bikes and took off running.

I was content to just get the bikes back, but two of my friends ran off to follow these guys while calling 911–they tracked the thieves for a few blocks (at a distance), watched them get on a 64 Bus, and then followed the bus, describing its location to the police. DC Police responded immediately and within minutes had pulled the bus over around 11th and Monroe. When the officers removed the perps from the bus, one of them put up a fight. Officer Chen sustained some scrapes and bruises while trying to restrain this jerk. The officer fortunately didn’t seem to have major injuries, and impressively stayed to help fill out paperwork after he got some medical attention (double extra PROPS)!

Ultimately, Metro PD got these guys in custody and they will hopefully be charged with theft, assault, assault on a police officer/resisting arrest, and perhaps robbery. (In other news, one of the perps was already wearing an ankle monitor, and some synthetic marijuana was found on the bus.)

The police did an awesome job responding to this incident–many thanks to Metro PD. There is certainly more serious crime in this city than bike theft, but it is a huge and growing problem nonetheless. In retrospect, I can’t recommend people confront bike thieves themselves. We lucked out, but if these guys had a weapon one or more of us could be in the hospital right now. If you see an apparent bike theft, call Metro PD and maybe follow the thieves at a safe distance if you are in a public place.”

41 Comment

  • Bravo to the people who confronted and pursued the criminals. You’ve done a favor to us all because, when enough people respond to crime like this, the thought process of would-be criminals changes.

  • wow… assaulting the officer and resisting arrest? way to make a smaller offense into a major one!

  • What’s with all these idiotic thieves fleeing by Metrobus? Love it.

  • That’s RIGHT! WOO HOO! You go, DC cops – bringing down shooters as well as bike burgulars!
    Hooray for standup citizens (albeit, potential victims of theft). You guys set the pace for all of us, let’s keep it up.
    What’s this with people just walking by when someone’s messing with a bikelock using a boltcutter?! Can’t anyone think to take a few snaps? Hunh?

  • Thanks. I don’t think it was smart, and I wouldn’t have the cojones to do it myself, but I’m really glad you and your friends stood up for yourselves and followed through and sent the message you did.

    • While I like to think it sent the right message to criminals, I doubt word will travel among the criminal community scaring all would be criminals away. The only thing I keep thinking now is that when these guys plead out (or if they are underage, probably not even charged) they are going to do one thing next time different: bring a gun.

  • Bravo to the citizen who confronted them indeed.

  • I would have done the same. Good for you!

    I was at Burning Man this year and someone stole my bike while I was checking out an art installation. The thieves ended being our “neighbors” a few campsites over from us. I walked into their campsite, told them to get the f#ck out of Burning Man if they were going to act like thieves, and walked away with my bike. They tried to pretend it was their bike for about 10 seconds and then relented. I shamed the ever living sh#t of them in front of their other neighbors for a good 3 minutes. It felt awesome, they were dumbstruck.

    • but everything at burning man is free for the taking man

      • Eh, not your own personal property. Gifting is one thing, stealing is another.

        I rented the bike in Reno and had a $100 deposit on it. I wanted my money back. It’s the same as taking $100 out of my wallet. That’s also not allowed at Burning Man. Not all rules of society fly out the window just because you’re on the Playa.

  • so the bikes were only cable-locked?

    • good question, id to know how these bikes were locked

      • ya, not blaming victim in any way. really would just like to know so we can all have little more information on bike secruity

      • Yes–the bikes were cable locked with a coiled lock (not a U-lock). Same lock for both bikes undoubtedly made them a target. I doubt the small bolt cutters they had would have made it through a U-lock without serious difficulty.

        Lesson learned? Never use a cable lock, even if you’re just out for a few hours during daylight.

    • Oh, fer crying out loud. Way to blame the victim

      Shouldn’t we be able to have our bikes “only” cable locked? Is that somehow a ludicrous lack of caution, like leaving your wallet spilling 50s all over the sidewalk cafe table while you go inside to pee?

      • calm down. they just asked if the bikes were cable locked. maybe they also have cable locks and want to know if they are susceptible to theft. I wouldn’t exactly say the post was blaming the victim.

      • Ummm…they could have been asking because maybe the use a cable lock, and were surprised at how easily it was cut? i usually use a burly kryptonite U-lock, but sometimes in the middle of the day, i’ll run out for a quick errand and just take a crappy cable lock, with the assumption that no one is going to F*** with my bike in broad daylight. so it’s good to know what lock they were using for the rest of us who might be using the same thing!

      • I’d be interested in what kind of lock was used, not to blame the victim. If the thieves were able to cut through the same kind of lock I use, I’ll re-think where I lock my bike up.

      • cable locks alone could be a ludicrous lack of caution even in an area of high visibility.

      • i think it’s a reasonable question. are thieves cutting cable locks AND busting u-locks in broad daylight?

        • This has been happening for a while.

          • I’ve heard of cables being clipped in plain sight, but the thought of u-locks being in broad daylight is worrisome.

        • Wasn’t there a thread a few weeks back in which one or more people were suggesting using two different _kinds_ of locks, on the grounds that thieves who have the equipment to bust one won’t necessarily have the equipment to bust the other and will thus look for an easier target?

      • You moved into a city. In the city things get stolen. This is NOT a growing trend. I’ve lived here all my life and before all the gentrification (which I am greatful for) no one would even thing about leaving a bike with a coil lock.
        You moved into a city. Take precautions. Things happen. Soak up the culture! That will be a great story to tell.

  • Just got my first road bike. I’d like to keep it.

    I’d also like to not be hit by a car.

    • Sorry, you only get to choose one.

    • I’ve managed to avoid my road bike (mid-level w/ 105) from being stolen by: 1) not leaving it outside even for 5 mintues and 2) if I have lock it up outside, I use a U-Lock and take the front wheel off and run the lock through the front wheel separately. For errands and commuting, I bought a beater bike off CL or I use Bikeshare.

      I’ve managed to avoid being hit by cars and avoid hitting anything myself by riding much slower than I can and obeying red lights and stop signs.

      • I too have a beater bike and refuse to leave my mid-level road bike out of direct sight. People are ridiculous …

  • . “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

  • Thanks for answering the question I had from Sunday when I was driving back from the grocery store and saw a bus pulled over with a half dozen police cars around it. Glad to hear everyone was fine, they got their bikes back, and these fine young gentleman got busted.

  • Yup. I’ve had a bike stolen from my house – inside a locked privacy fence mind you. Thank you, you’ve done us all a favor.

  • Props to the Cops always makes my day.

  • Seeing mention of Lou’s made me think of this. A few weeks back, friends and I were watching the Nats on the patio. An MPD officer approached us and suggested my friend not have her purse hanging from the back of the chair, on the railing side. Good looking out…..

  • My husband and I were actually on the bus this all happened. A total of 12 police cars ambushed the bus, prepared to catch these men (so, props!) Because of the ankle monitor, the immediate response and volume of police officers, as well as their body language (there was a lot of hand-shaking), my husband and I were thinking that these two individuals were either repeat offenders or were wanted for another crime. It was crazy.

Comments are closed.