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Dear PoP – Witnessing Bikes Being Stolen

“Dear PoP,

I just saw (last week) four kids ages maybe 12-14 at the Columbia Heights metro station in front of Potbelly’s with bolt cutters stealing one bike and trying to cut another one lose. There were plenty of people around which did not seem to disturb them. I just happened to walk by and they definitely realized I was noticing their ‘work’, but I was totally unsure how to react; whether to confront them or call the police. In the end I realized calling 911 would not get the cops there in time, and I was afraid of consequences directly approaching them. Where is the police when you need them? In the end I saw a police car in front of the target and ran over there, but there was no officer around. Maybe that threatened the kids as they were taking off once I got to the police car and left the attempt on the second bike unfinished (I got to meet the owner later on coincidentally, as she just came back and told her about her luck), but the other bike got taken. How would you react in such a situation and I am curious to hear other peoples suggestions on what could have been done maybe also to keep the other bike from being taken away?

I guess I will keep storing my different bikes with me in my flat.”

This is a very tough question. I think if it is daytime and there are many people around, it would be ok to confront them and say something like, “hey what are you doing? What’s going on?” or something like that. The video up top was done by two brothers in NYC who show exactly how easy it is to steal a bike without anyone saying anything in broad daylight. What do you guys recommend in this situation?

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