“Tuesday night at least 4 bikes were stolen out of a locked bike storage inside our ‘secure’ garage”


“Dear PoPville,

Tuesday night at least 4 bikes were stolen out of a locked bike storage inside our “secure” garage. The bike storage area requires an electronic resident key to enter (as does the garage and elevator), so the thief either lives in our building or was working with another resident. They also used a pretty heavy duty tool because all the u-locks on the ground had a smooth cut. Police and building management are involved now.

I live at Jefferson Marketplace in Shaw – apparently this happened two nights in a row, so wanted to warn other people in the neighborhood and see if anyone has seen my bike. It is a white Specialized Dolce Sport with black Shimano commuter pedals. It also has a red and white Jefferson Marketplace sticker and a Spokes Etc. sticker on the frame.

If anyone comes across it they can email me at kristenburke8(at)gmail.com.”


58 Comment

  • Ouch. Looks to be from an battery powered angle grinder – they can cut some locks n under a minute and even the best locks don’t stand a chance. Agree on the possability of an “inside” job.

  • I feel your pain; I’ve had countless bikes stolen, lock or no lock, garage or out of garage. Just curious, does the garage or apt. building owner have any insurance to cover this or is this an at the risk of the owner situation and if it were offered is there an insurance that covers this that the buyer could take up…Just wondered…Don’t forget the security cams if there are any that might’ve caught the theives (as you mentioned, possibly, right there in the building). Scroll through craigslist and see if it’s listed for sale there. I hope you get your bike back.

    • Agreed – obviously the language is probably written up to avoid responsibility, but pressure on your building is probably going to be more successful in getting your bike back (i.e. $, security cameras) than first finding it somewhere like craiglist and then actually getting it back if you do happen to find it.

    • Sorry, this really stinks. In addition to the cameras, does your building have a log of who uses the fobs and when? Many fobbed buildings do keep a list, which they don’t advertise for the obvious big brotherness of it, but it may be something they could search and see who was in/out of the bike cage?

    • Renters or homeowner’s insurance should cover this loss.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Yes it should but unless you have a $10,000 bike you really don’t want to file a claim for this. Having claims on your record will cost you way more long term than you’ll save by having your insurance company reimburse you a few hundred or a thousand dollars for your bike. Homeowners and renters insurance are for catastrophic losses, like when your place burns down and you lose everything including your actual home. It is not for when one thing gets stolen.

  • I’m not sure I agree 100% with your police work there, Lou. It’s more likely that the suspect just followed someone or a car inside before the door closed.

    • They definitely could have followed someone into the garage, but entrance to the bike storage area requires an electronic resident key and that door snaps shut behind you (it has caught my leg and my bike tire quite a few times just getting in and out) so it’s pretty unlikely that they were just lucky enough to catch that door open.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Either lives there, or is “working with” a resident, or gets somebody to hold doors for him, or knows how to pick locks, or just waits outside the garage for somebody to drive out and then sneaks in through the vehicle exit. It ain’t hard. Gaining access to any “secure” facility to which dozens of ordinary people also have access is much much easier than cutting a U lock, and this guy demonstrably can cut a U lock.

    • HaileUnlikely

      p.s. Sure, it may be an inside job. My intent is just to caution against leaping to that conclusion based on facts in evidence.

      • Not to be that guy….but….
        “The neat story about this project is that the previous residents of Kelsey Gardens, which is the project that is being demolished, have the opportunity to move back into the complex after it is finished,”

        • Unlikely. It was more likely the bikes were stolen by one of the market-rate tenants paying $2200 for a 1-bedroom.

        • I’m curious if any residents of that old complex came back. I would be surprised if any did. I might also take offense at the suggestion, but I just don’t have the strength.

          • The same article said like 35-40 residents came back. In addition, there’s X number of low-income units in the building. It’s not like this building is full of luxury tenants. But in summary, it only takes 1 bad apple to make this happen. And bad apples are not ONLY low-income. I know someone who recently was scammed/robbed by a guy with an $80k/year job (there was a salary verification by the landlord).
            Only reason I point these things out is that I’m guessing it had to do with someone who lived in the building and not someone who snuck in off the street who happened to stumble upon a bike storage area, waited with a grinder to sneak in with a resident, etc.

          • Wow, not at all what I would have expected. If that’s accurate, I stand corrected. But I’m skeptical about the source of that article and its accuracy four years later.

          • Still – there are around 50 low-income units in the building. Whether they were the old residents or not.

        • “Only reason I point these things out is that I’m guessing it had to do with someone who lived in the building”
          And of course, the only residents it could possibly be are the ones not paying market rent. Because, well, you know . . . geesh.

          • Did you skip my sentence before that?
            “But in summary, it only takes 1 bad apple to make this happen. And bad apples are not ONLY low-income. I know someone who recently was scammed/robbed by a guy with an $80k/year job (there was a salary verification by the landlord).”

          • You are free to believe whatever you believe. But you said what you said.
            And the fact that you said “bad apples are not ONLY low income,” in part of your SECOND post, doesn’t change the fact that in your FIRST post you were “that guy” who pointed ONLY to the people who were allowed to move back into the building after it was converted to whatever it is now. You specifically pointed to the non-market rent payers (and only to them) in your first post. It was only after you got called on it that you threw in the other stuff in your second post – including the reference to the number of low income tenants and the “it’s not like this building is full of luxury tenants” line.

          • The point being made was people were suggesting it wasn’t “someone in the building” but someone off the street (i.e. LOW INCOME). I simply pointed out that LOW INCOME people lived in the building already.
            In the end, it could be anyone. But I doubt it was someone external from the building that had 0 connection.

    • This one actually isn’t so easy – even if they tailed someone into the garage you would need an electronic resident key to enter the bike storage cage and the door wasn’t damaged. The door on that the cage has a spring so it snaps shut behind you (it caught my leg and my bike tire quite a few times). Plus, you need a garage clicker to get out of the garage too, not just to enter. Same with the elevator area – you need an electronic resident key to get in the room where the elevators are and a key to get to any floor except the first.

      Not saying it’s impossible, but the management and the police seem to agree that someone with one of the electronic keys to the building was most likely involved.

      • electronic keys and their activity *could* be logged in a system somewhere. you should pursue that avenue with mgmt, as well. it probably won’t give you a clear answer, but if you can nail down a time frame and look for logs around that time, it’s a start.
        and if logging capability is possible (which I guarantee it is for electronic keys and locks), logs for generally accessible doors (e.g., community bike room) should be kept. and i would say the building mgmt is borderline negligent for not keeping the logs.

      • I live in the building and also had a Specialized bike stolen….from my personal storage cage I pay for in the garage. No key kob needed. The lock to our cage was gone, door hanging open, and bike gone. We found it like this Monday night.

  • I agree with the inside job speculation. The thief had to get into a locked bike storage room/cage. An angle grinder won’t get you into there. Also, the thief had to remove 4 bicycles – only someone with a car could do that.

  • if the person did come in through the garage after a resident, wouldn’t the security camera quickly pick up someone walking out with four bikes? they’d have to leave out of a normal entrance/exit that presumably has cameras. if there’s not video of someone walking out with multiple bikes, I’d agree that it was an inside person, who could hide them in a car or an apartment.

    • Yea – that’s what I am hoping for. The building gave the footage to the police so I’m just waiting to hear if they were able to see the person (or people) on either the elevator or garage entrance cameras.

      • I’m hoping for that too. did you register them with the police? I told my husband about this and said thankfully ours are locked within fenced in space in the garage, and to get the key you need to give the concierge your license–to which is accurately pointed out, if they’re cutting U locks, they can easily cut the fence.

  • OP, please post an update when you have one, and hopefully some good news. My bike looks almost identical to yours, but a different Specialized model.

  • I would guess that one of the residents in that building had their electronic key taken from them in a robbery or theft a day or two before your bike was stolen, and the suspect found the address from the victim’s wallet or ID (or maybe just started swiping it on nearby doors if it was stolen from a car parked on the street outside), then came to your building and entered the bike cage with the electronic key. Did the building management say if anyone’s electronic key had been stolen or lost recently? Might be able to solve 2 crimes at the same time.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Good thought. The whole point of using the fobs rather than a physical key is that when one is lost, stolen, privileges revoked, whatever, they can simply deactivate it rather than changing physical locks and distributing new keys. I have firsthand knowledge that management companies are not always sufficiently on the ball to deactivate lost fobs, though.

      • The owner of the lost/stolen fob may have also not reported it in hopes that it would turn up. Pretty shitty if someone didn’t report a stolen fob because they didn’t want to pay for a new one.

  • Replied to a comment below, but my husband’s bike (white, Specialized Rockhopper) was also stolen from this garage, from our own personal cage we pay for as part of our lease at Jefferson MarketPlace. These require no key fob to enter. Our lock was gone, but I assumed cut and tossed, and bike stolen straight from our cage near our parking spot. I have gotten no response from the building, but have filed a police report so am hoping some action is taken. I have felt like I have been followed in to the garage by cars before, so I would not be surprised if someone was let in or waited to follow a resident in to the garage.

  • PSA: Do not buy these OnGuard locks as they are relatively easy to pick. Don’t be the low-hanging fruit when parking your bike on the street; spend the extra $ on Kryptonite locks – your bike is worth it!
    (Yes, I’m dully aware that wouldn’t have made a difference here, just a generic PSA for the future.)

    • Having seen the videos of people sawing through bike locks in broad daylight on the streets with people walking by saying and doing nothing, and the video of the guy who pulled a bike over the top of a sign post it was locked to, I get the sense that it’s the “low hanging fruit” who are parking their bikes on the street.

      • Using your logic above, I guess my bike is much more useful as a perpetual wall ornament inside my house? But fair point – I only take my nice bike out if I’ll be within its site or if I’m running very quick errands, otherwise I grab a Bikeshare bike.

    • Monday morning 5.30am in Hill East, I woke up to what I thought was a neighbor starting building work at an ungodly hour. We could hear a drilling sound right outside our bedroom window, I went to check what was going on only to discover that 2 youths had walked into our front yard and were attempting to steal our bikes. The sound had only be going on for about a minute, luckily we disturbed them enough for them to leave.

      In the space of a minute they cut through 1 Krytonite lock and the second only had a few more millimeters to go before it was cut. Luckily the bikes were locked to each other and difficult to pull apart otherwise they would have been gone.

      I bought krytonite for the very reason you suggested, because I thought they were robust, it turns out that they are no match for these battery powered angle grinders/saws. Lesson learned, keeping the bikes inside now

      • HaileUnlikely

        There have been some informative independent studies of how long it takes to cut through various bike locks with an angle grinder. The very best ones studied, the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboutit, which retails for over $100, only took 90 seconds to cut off. Some of the cheaper ones, in contrast, took as little as 20 seconds. While on the whole that is monumentally discouraging, the extra seconds that your lock bought you might have made the difference between you realizing something was up vs. ignoring the noise and not finding out until later that your bike was gone. When the thief has a reasonable degree of privacy for a few minutes, though, he’s still going to get the bike, unless he just picks a different one (e.g., somebody else’s nicer bike with a wimpier lock) instead.

  • If it is a newer building, someone should be able to run a search on all of the key fobs that entered/exited the building and/or the bicycle room at a certain time, to help narrow down who had access. Then, you could politely question the residents whose fobs were used, in a non-accusatory way, to see if they had their keys lost or stolen. This happened a few years ago in my building and it was discovered that someone’s spare keys were taken by a household employee and then used to enter the building and steal the bikes. Camera footage matched up to the fob records and was then turned over to the police.

  • we live in the kenmore at conn./military and a year or so ago some degenerate cut through the frame of my wife’s bicycle, which was locked to the rack, to slip the lock off my bicycle, which was chained to my wife’s. Left my wife’s and took off with mine…since then we’ve kept our bicycles in the apartment. A year later the building installed a fence around the bicycle racks, complete with cypher lock and last week someone came thru in the cover of night, cut a giant hole in the fence and took off with some loot…lesson of all this is: if you really don’t want to take a chance, keep your bicycle in your unit. btw, our building was NEVER going to take any kind of responsibility for my stolen bike – they tried, after the fact, to help all residents with the fenced in parking, but even that is innefectual…

    • Actually, there was a post in another bike theft thread where a guy described having his bike stolen from his apartment and the officer who responded to the theft asked why he didn’t have the bike locked to something in the apartment. So, there’s that . . .

      • There’s always going to be exceptions and that seems a bit silly for a cop to say, but some people also exaggerate situations. My laptop isn’t cheap and I don’t lock it up – but I also don’t leave it out at the windowsill for people to grab.
        I don’t like the “lecturing” part if it’s not useful advice, but I’ve learned a lot from forums like these. When I first moved here, I would have never thought to lock up my propane tank on my gas grill (I have a U Lock on the grill) until I read someone talking about how people should. Needless to say, I’ve come home to find my grill cover off and propane tank door open multiple times – guessing people scouting to see if they could steal it or the grill (or looking for a spare key). You can’t 100% fix a lot of these situations, but you can learn things to help them not happen to you that’s for sure.

  • If there is one thing these threads teach, it’s that there is no such thing as stopping a determined thief.
    I have been on this forum for a long time and have read all manner of accounts of bike thefts. There was the triathlete who left a really expensive bike unlocked on his front porch while he went inside for “a second” to clean up; people whose unlocked bikes were stolen from common storage areas of condo and co-op basements; people who have come back to outdoor posts to find their bike locks cut and bikes gone; the person who came back to a sign post to find the sign removed and the bike and bike lock gone (lifted up over the post); and now 4 bikes stolen from a locked storage cage in a locked area of a locked building.
    I guess the “bright side” is that there is no “Not to victim blame, but here’s what you could have done to prevent this . . .” second-guessing in this case.

    • My opinion on bikes is that the only “safe” place is to keep them inside your apartment/house. There are some things you can do to prevent it for a while keeping them outside – I think it’s almost better to keep them “in view” of the public versus out back if you live on a slightly traversed street. I’ve given up having my own bike and am satisfied with bikeshare where I live. If I were to get my own, I’d keep it in my house (which is obviously a pain given they don’t exactly keep clean, etc.).

  • The cops will never solve this. It’s took low of a priority. Take the insurance money and drop it. This happened to a buddy of mine. Same deal: secure building, secure storage area, big locks on the bikes. Thieves came at 4am in the middle of the week, got in quickly, took everything and were out in 15 minutes. Cameras caught some of it but it was never solved.

    • I wouldn’t be so quick to say that. I had an attempted break in at my house with surveillance evidence. At the time of the crime it didn’t seem like the cops literally cared because he didn’t actually get in – but they did the work, ID’ed him and charged him.
      That being said, even if they track him down – it doesn’t guarantee you get your bike back or money from it.

  • At what point will the stolen bike market become saturated? If every person in the country has had 2 bikes stolen and has replaced them, then shouldn’t there at some point be 2x the number of bikes needed? At some point, aren’t we just going to leave bikes unlocked because there’s one on each corner?

    • That’s just along the lines of what I was thinking when posting my questions!

    • Maybe until bikes regularly come with GPS trackers and the police have the resources and inclination to go after bike thieves? Bike-friendly countries like the Netherlands are still plagued by bike thefts even though they clearly have a much higher bike-person ratio than the US.

    • No, it’s a sustainable cycle. The thieves can steal and resell the same bikes over and over again without changing the market.

  • Sorry for the dumb question, but I am sorely uninformed on this and am genuinely interested…does anyone know typically how the thieves end up cashing in? I understand the bikes are obviously sold, but it just seems like a staggering number are stolen daily throughout the city, and am wondering how the stolen bike market isn’t oversaturated. Also just wondering about the mechanics of it work…some guy steals four bikes and then puts them all up on Craiglist? Or just goes around a neighborhood and sells them off in person? Or are they usually stealing on behalf of someone else who pays for their services and then uses some kind of otherwise legit storefront to sell them? All of the above? Totally know I am opening myself up for mocking with these questions, but hoping someone will share some insights.

    • I’m guessing a variety of on the street, craigslist, etc. – some people have said they may “move” them to other areas (i.e. DC to Baltimore) but that seems like quite an effort.
      If you search craigslist, there aren’t a lot of sketchy looking listings. However, if you search columbia heights bike, you’ll notice one person selling a bunch of different used bikes all with the same concrete wall/alley backdrop in the photos. Seems a bit sketch…

    • There are groups that will go around and steal a bunch of bikes, load them on a box truck and drive to a different market.
      Ever seen Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure?!

    • In the same way that a stolen car can end up in another country, so can a stolen bike. It can also end up in another state. I doubt that someone would want to chance selling a super specialized, high end bike in the same area or even city in which it was stolen. There are tons of flea markets all over the country. I would not be surprised if some of these bikes don’t end up there.

  • Serious question–if an apartment like OP’s rents you space in a “secure” bike area and your bike gets stolen, are they liable for not providing services rendered? For negligence?

    • The building waived responsibility for any theft/loss in the bike storage agreement, unfortunately. They did, however, refund our bike storage fee for this month, which I suppose is the least they could do.

  • Hi! I live in a small boutique building at 13th and M and my bike was stolen at 5am on Tuesday, June 21. I’ve seen surveillance footage of the burglar. The thief entered through a fire exit in the back of the building which is magnetized and hadn’t been properly closed. My bike was locked to a bike rack under the staircase of the building and he took the frame and left the front wheel locked to the rack (so he probably did not have the special tools that were used to cut your lock). He did have a backpack (perhaps had some tools in his bag) and I’m wondering if the cases are related.

  • No lock is a match for a cordless angle grinder.

Comments are closed.