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Dear PoP – Theft of $2500 bikes caught on tape

by Prince Of Petworth May 5, 2011 at 11:30 am 65 Comments

“Dear PoP,

On Monday, April 11, 2011 I had two bikes stolen from my patio. The guy took his time and came back several times to get them as he had to climb a fence cut cables and then carry them out.. I was wondering if you could post his photo / video on your forum to see if this can help gather some leads. Anything you could do to help I’d greatly appreciate it as would all my neighbors.

It all started at 6:26pm and ended with him @ 7:05pm going across 16th and Oak and then travels north up Hertford Pl.”

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If anyone sees suspicious behavior like this – be sure to call the cops.

  • anon

    Each bike cost $2500 or they cost $2500 total? Talk about a problem I wish I had!

  • Sir Douchy

    “If anyone sees suspicious behavior like this – be sure to call the cops.”
    I guess, based on what I’m seeing in the video I wouldn’t necessarily say it was suspicious behavior. Sure, if I saw him leaping over fences and cutting a bike lock I might, but just riding down the street with a couple of bikes, not so sure that my instinct would be “call 911 there’s a dude on a bike”

    • houseintherear

      There’s just no real purpose to this comment.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Hahaha noted. But I’m talking about noticing a guy loitering in an alley for 45 minutes.

      • Anonymous

        I witnessed suspicious behavior once that turned out to be a bike thief. I realized that by the time I called 911 the guys would be gone. Sure enough he was. I took photos and sent them to the cops who somehow didn’t seem to care much. Response something like – “do you know how many bikes are stolen every day in DC?” I think someone needs to invent a bike lojack device.

        • Anonymous

          next time that happens, you need to go to your regularly scheduled district community meeting and complain. That’s lazy BS.

  • Rukasu

    I see you have bars on your windows, but leave your bikes outside…

    • ah

      And a security camera.

  • Dan

    Wow, looks liek he cold falls on his face when he gets to the corner. Maybe that’ll stick out in someone’s mind.

  • Better go anon on this one…

    Did you guys catch him wiping out at the end of the street? karma I guess…Having been robbed multiple times in this city here is my advice to every doe-eyed, “open-minded”, naive newbie who thinks that its wrong to make assumptions about people until you have been victimized by them…

    Be suspicious of people in your neighborhood unless you know them as familiar faces. The moment your back is turned someone is scheming about how to take your stuff from you. If it isn’t nailed down…it isn’t safe. If someone LOOKS the part of a bum/thug/morally bankrupt person, than it is best to assume that they are those things.

    If someone is wandering your block with no particular aim, your best bet is to call the cops… don’t wait for the assault or theft to happen.

    Call the cops whenever you can and listen to your gut. Tons of people saw this and he was obviously suspicious to be rolling out with TWO bikes… I would’ve called.

    • steve

      “If someone is wandering your block with no particular aim, your best bet is to call the cops…”


      you want me to call the cops when I don’t recognize (in a city) or like the looks of somebody minding their own business just walking down the street?

      • Better go anon on this one…

        Yes…they can wander somewhere else.

      • Better go anon on this one…

        There is a difference between walking down the street with intention (I’m not gonna call in every person who walks down third to get to the laundromat) vs. wandering aimlessly/loitering. (I.E. a group of young thugs who have posted up on our corner waiting to start some kind of trouble or play lookout while someone else performs a robbery.

      • anonny

        Wow, I’m glad I’m not a black guy! Otherwise every time I go out wandering around the city with no particular aim I’d have this guy calling the cops on me! Man, way to make the number 1 perk of living in a city- wandering around enjoying the sights- seem like a crime.

        • Better go anon on this one…

          There are no sights on my block…if you are out for a walk you either live in the neighborhood, or running a legitimate errand, maybe enjoying the weather or visiting a friend. These cases are easy to see and evaluate…but it is SO easy to tell when someone is prowling. Say what you want, my instincts are on point. A month ago my call interrupted some illicit drug activity…and about 3 weeks ago my call and witness statement caught a person who was wandering down the street slashing tires… Vigilance is not something I have any shame about…I practice it every day. My neighbors are very very glad that I do. Finally…this isn’t about race to me, and that is actually why I feel confident calling the police as often as I do. I am motivated my genuine suspicion…not racial fears.

          • another guy named Chris

            ….soooo why exactly are you going anon on this one if your neighbors are glad and you are confident about your actions?

          • anon for reasons

            Because whenever someone brings up the topic of Vigilance people want to turn it in to a race issue (Like they did) and so in an effort to distance myself safely from that yoke, I’ll stay anon. Moreover, as a perpetual cop-caller, I would prefer this aspect of my identity to remain as anonymous as possible for my safety and that of my family.

      • anon

        Not just any person, any brown person. I guess racial profiling is okay now.

        • Better go anon on this one…

          If and or when I see a seedy looking white guy acting suspicious in my neighborhood…I’ll call that in too.

        • TG

          Why does he/she have to be a racist. I know exactly what is being said here. In this video, the guy goes back and forth a few times with no real destination. That is suspicious and that is what the poster is talking about. I see it all the time myself, somebody that appears to be going nowhere and reappears in the same spot over and over again. It screams up to no good. Leave the racism piece out of it and get clued in.

          • cbr

            +1. Everyone should read “The Gift of Fear,” now. This guy is on point.

    • Robert B.


  • Anon

    Is it wrong for me to wish this guy the worst? I mean I want something really awful to happen to him and him have to live a long, suffering existence for the rest of his days.

    And I wish the same for anyone who pulls this kind of shit. Awful.

    • Ryan

      Probably not living the best of existences as it is tbf.

      • Anon

        Please…don’t give me this crap about him being forgotten or hurt by society. Maybe he didn’t get the best hand, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t respect other people.

        This freakin kills me. How many people out there have it worse than him yet they don’t steal…they don’t break the law at all.

        Such bullshit. Gone is self-responsibility.

        • anon

          Bart: Uh, say, are you guys crooks?

          Fat Tony: Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?

          Bart: No.

          Fat Tony: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?

          Bart: Uh uh.

          Fat Tony: And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like… cigarettes?

          Bart: I guess that’s okay.

          Fat Tony: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?

          Bart: Hell, no.

    • Your Mom

      Yes. He just stole two bikes. He didn’t sodomize a puppy.

  • Brian Kraft

    Sorry about your bikes. I’m always amazed to see bikes stored in plain sight.

  • BNH

    I was in Dupont Circle one afternoon surrounded by a lot of people, when a suspicious-looking guy walked up to a bike and started sawing off the U-Lock. We asked if it was his and he ignored us for a few minutes. Finally, he told us to leave him alone. So, as someone who has had his bike stolen before, I called the cops. They ran out of the Dupont Circle station as he was riding away (the seat obviously way too low for him). They confronted him, but he said the bike was his. The cops said they had no real reason to doubt him and it’s hard to prove you OWN a bike or if you stole it. So, they let him go. But, they said, if someone reports that bike stolen, hopefully they can track this guy down and arrest him. But, they can only do that if the person reporting it stolen has the bike’s serial number.

    Lesson learned: If you’re a bike owner, write down your serial number, register it with the cops the moment you buy it and, if it gets stolen, report it immediately to the cops. Even if you do all that, it probably still won’t do too much. The video camera helps, but that’s rare.

    There’s just no major disincentive for bike thieves. It’s an easy crime with little chance of getting caught or being punished. I wish there was a remedy other than just not buying a bike in the first place.

    • There is a remedy. Never lock your bike outside or leave it unattended.

      With the unlimited design and choice of bike rakes from hanging ones attached to your ceilings or those cool ladder types, storing an expensive or loved bike inside is not a difficult decision.

      • anonny

        How about when you actually use your bike for transportation rather than leisure? I really want to get a bike to ride to go to lunch with friends, etc. I’m a bit nervous because I will definitely have to leave it locked up outside when I use it. Fortunately, my building has a bike storage room so long term and over night it will always be indoors.

        • DC Rizz

          Capital Bikeshare. I own a bike but use CaBi whenever I’m going out for drinks, grocery shopping, i.e. anywhere I want to avoid locking a bike up.

      • Anonymous

        It’s ok to ride a bicycle, except in the cases where it needs to be locked up outside.

        Also, never leave your house, because it’s better to hide than to face up to criminals.

        • Pam


    • anon

      You can also register it nationally:


      • slb

        Also, you can engrave your name underneath the down tube (or on a more obvious part if you don’t care about how it looks) and/or place a note with your name and contact info inside the handlebar tube (laminate it or put it in a plastic bag) so that you can easily prove that the bike is yours.

    • another guy named Chris

      WOW @ this story!!! So if a cop comes at me while sawing off a bike lock, all I have to say is “I lost the key”?

      Wow again.

      No wonder bike theft is so rampant.

  • MAR

    I know that it’s sad that this is something we expect and attribute to “life in a city”…but it really surprises me that people continue to store bikes (or really anything of value) outside and expect it not to be stolen.

    Stop being naive…people will steal anything if its not nailed down…and sometimes even when it is. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to take advantage of you.

  • DC goon

    boy oh boy things are tough out there. Why, every time I shut the window I hurt somebody’s fingers.”

  • Justin (owner)

    The Trek bikes were $1000 bikes and the accessories on the bikes brought the total around $2500. What isn’t seen is the fence he climbed over or the fact the bikes were not in plain sight and covered with two covers and locked to a fence and bike rack. Inside my property.

    I have footage of him shimmying himself up and over and wandering around the patio. I still don’t understand how he got himself up and over the fence.. crazy people do crazy things.

    he spent a good deal of time cutting the lock too.. (he left the pliers and cutters he used).

    We had someone rob another unit in our condo earlier last month and I would bet he is the perp. he’s a little to comfortable with the time he was there

    • Anonymous

      The owner of the bikes did nothing wrong. They were properly secured.

    • cbr

      So did you actually call and report this to the cops? I hope so. Sorry about your bikes, man.

  • Anonymous

    One more reminder that the ranking of security of bike locks is as follows:

    1. Cable lock
    2. A nice note asking people to not steal your bike
    3. Hardware store chain
    4. U lock
    5. Bike-specific chain lock

    • What does everyone think of the OnGuard Beast? I use it to lock my scooter and haven’t had a problem yet. It is heavy (20 lbs or so) but you could use it as your lock at home…

      Thieves might be able to get through it eventually with power tools, but I would assume they would just move on to an easier target.

      • Anonymous

        Scooters are one thing because you need the length and the weight is less important, but chain locks are only more secure in that it’s easier to get both wheels and the frame. Also, way too many people ride with the chain around their waist, which hurts like hell if you ever fall on it. U locks are the best all around, with perhaps a cable or second U for the front wheel.

    • er

      Locking your bike with a cable lock is about as effective as tying your bike up with a piece of string. It is beyond worth it to go for a proper U-lock or chain lock, even if you are locking it up on your own property.

  • Jeff

    I get all giddy when I think of what I’d do to someone like this if I caught them stealing my bike. I’d first beat them unconscious with a baseball bat, then I’d burn the word “THIEF” into their forehead with a soldering iron.

  • Greg

    Personally, I’d love to have been sitting on the back porch with my tactical 12ga Remington when he wanders back through. Oh wait, DC politicians think ordinary people don’t need guns to protect themselves and their propery. Right…

    • Anonymous

      Shotguns are still ok.

  • Why in the world don’t you just enhance the video to catch the thief? C’mon!


  • Anonymous

    Actually, good point. Can you publish the name/specs of the video system you’re using? I’ve been poking around and I’m not quite sure what I want.

  • greent

    Years ago, I was sitting on a bench in MalcolmX Park, reading the newspaper. There were many people in the park – but not a huge amount – a small group of soccer players, and the row of benches I was at had 1 person per bench for 5 benches (we were in the sun).

    A black guy comes walking through the park with a big TV on his shoulders (and this was pre-flat screens). Each person looked at him, then at each other and did the “Is that his or is this theft/don’t wanna be called a racist” shoulder shrug to each other.

    5 minutes later, 2 skinny white kids come running into the park and yell “anyone seen our tv?” Everyone pointed in the direction he went, and they took off. 10 minutes after that, the kids came back with the TV. The soccer players stopped playing and applauded them. It was kinda wierdly cool. Never did find out how they got their tv back.

  • You know who you are

    Why in heaven’s name would people blame the victim?

    And the comments about not racial profiling are absurd.

    On one hand, people say that you can’t be naive and that it’s your responsibility to keep everything you own under lock and key. On the other hand, they say that you must be naive and can’t consider race when determining whether someone may be a threat. How many people get mugged or shot each year in Shaw by gangs of white teens?

    If you’re an idiot for not locking up your bike, you’re an idiot for not taking race into consideration. You can’t have it both ways.

  • JMC

    Blame the trash cans. How could they just sit there silently watching this all happen? Shame on you, trash cans.

  • ddd

    And another reason why my very nice race bike lives in my kitchen and not on my back patio (even if it has a fence).

    Sorry dude. I know it sucks to lose an awesome bike.

    • kgo


      My bikes are locked inside my house.

  • David

    I hope the sentence is long and includes hard labor!

  • d.

    Bike theft should be punishable by hard time. Or the loss of a few digits… I think they should bring that one back, it might deter some of these morons.

  • stupidppl

    Based on the everyday facts here in DC, I think it’s quite obvious of the kind of people to be aware of…. This is not about racial profiling, people! This is BEING SMART. Each day on my way to work I see people walk around with their iPhones and smartphones oblivious to what’s going on; women walking to work with their earphones in both ears; people who are carrying expensive things around in large bags; people who are tipsy/drunk walking home from a bar in the middle of the night; cars stuffed with boxes in the backseat or front seat, etc. etc.

    If more people are aware to what’s going on and take the necessary actions or precautions, many of these crimes would not happen. There need to be more people who are willing to call the cops, even if it ends up being a false alarm. I love the street I live on because there are so many nosey neighbors – the type of neighbors who will call in suspicious activity at the drop of a dime. I feel much safer. Your instincts are usually right.

  • Easyenough

    I had my bike stolen from Dupont Metro when I first moved to DC several years ago. I kept my eye out for it and found it (readily id’ed because I built it) locked (with an armadillo) to a post near columbia and 18th in Amorgue. So I call the cops and they say, nothing we can do for you. You can’t prove it’s yours and the guy who stole it has possession. Thanks. So I took it completely apart – no one said a word. Just left front wheel and frame. Then I locked the frame using a very tightly wound krypto NY chain. Thief’s lock is worth a $100 so I know they want it back. I sit in a doorway nearby for three hours waiting for the guy and then I give up. A week later thief’s lock is gone, the front wheel is taco’d and the frame is fine – so I rebuild the bike (plus new front wheel). What a lousy ordeal. Now I lock up twice as much as the person next to me, using the bear outrunning logic. But I use my bikes less…


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