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Props to the Cops – Bike Thieves Getting Bolder

by Prince Of Petworth — November 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm 20 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

Dear PoPville,

I was sitting in my Mt. Vernon Square house around 10 tonight and hear the sound of a saw outside, look out the window to see sparks flying from where my bike is locked up! Call the police, they show up in about 5 minutes. Two guys run away down the street, but leave the saw, a backpack, jacket, and two already-stolen wheels. (The two wheels recovered were Campagnolo quick-release. If anyone had them stolen tonight they should contact police.)

I almost didn’t believe it when I saw it. I was surprised they would use a loud saw when most people are at home. Lucky for me it wasn’t too sharp–they barely made a scratch in my u-lock during the 5 minutes they were going at it.

  • anon

    This is why I dont leave anything outside overnight. We even had our hose stolen… who steals a hose? i’ll tell you who… it’s those DAMN GARDENERS! But seriously, I know not everyone can do it, but if you can spare the space just keep your things inside.

  • bikeguycohi

    Really? Wow, was it a desirable bike? That’s insanely bold.

  • nona

    i’ll tell you who it was. it was that damned sasquatch.


      If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis.

  • Anonymous

    Can you give us a description of the 2 guys? Thanks!

  • SydneyP

    This is a good time to remember to lock up bicyles with TWO different kinds of locks:

    1. a U-lock for the frame & rear wheel
    2. a cable lock with a combination built-in.

    Most thieves — so far — don’t carry the two different tools they need to cut them both.

    BTW Heavy rainstorms are a good time for noisey thieves to work. The rush of rain and lack of people on the street, esp. after dark, add to their cover.

  • anon

    I once had an Onguard lock freeze up on me and after breaking a key trying to open it I had to cut it. 17th and P – angle grinder – sparks flying everywhere – crowded street – nobody said a word.

  • Anonymous

    The police should put decoy bikes around town, with gps devices built in. Then they could track the thieves and arrest them. Or maybe decoy bikes with explosives built in.

    • DF

      Cause they makes economic sense. /s

      • bikeguycohi

        Petty theft is a quality of life issue. So yes putting out 2 or 3 decoy bikes (little expense, they just need to buy the gps units, as they can just use unclaimed recovered bikes) is not necessarily a waste of resources.

    • DE

      There’s an article in the Guardian today about police in London doing this. They have 30 officers assigned to bike theft for something like 22,000 bike thefts a year. But even when they catch the thieves, they get off with a fine if it’s a first offense. The fine was about the cost of one bike.

      • DE

        Clarification: decoy bikes, but no GPS. Or explosives.

    • Anonymous

      As of 2008 this in fact was being done by DC cops:


      “When a bike hustler tries to wheel away the bait, the officers swarm.

      The stings have produced 13 arrests so far, and have yielded some odd moments: Micciche remembers how two bike thieves were warned by officers to not take the bike, but then moments later “did so anyway” and how another “waited until his Metro bus arrived, then hustled over and grabbed the bike, placing it into the bus bike rack and boarding the bus.”

      He also remembers how most of the perps saw nothing wrong with what they did. Almost every person who stole a bike “could not understand the concept of not taking property that didn’t belong to them,” Micciche says.

      Some consider it their occupation.”

  • True story: a friend of mine tends bar at a restaurant right in the heart of Columbia Heights. On Saturday evening, a girl who was eating with a big group of people on the covered outdoor patio leaves the restaurant to go home. She unlocks her bike then quickly runs over to the patio (not less than 10-15 feet from her bike) to reach over and give a friend one last hug. In those 10 seconds a guy runs up, grabs her bike and takes off down the street. The girl is screaming and running after, “HE STOLE MY BIKE!”

    Out of nowhere a big burly man violently clotheslines the perp off the bike. Turns out, this was an off-duty cop doing some shopping in the neighborhood. The guy goes down HARD and bike does a massive mid-air flip. It takes the large off-duty cop and three other adult men (I think some servers from the restaurant) to hold the perp to the ground until the police show up. He was fighting the entire time! Apparently, this guy was recently arrested for stealing a tip jar from one of the Columbia Heights restaurants.

    So yeah, these thieves are getting extremely brazen and also somewhat violent. Try to keep everything inside. The longer, colder nights have definitely coincided with a rise in crime from what anecdotally noticed.

    • houseintherear

      I have fantasies about clotheslining a running thief.

      • Grand Funk


    • D

      Yep, true story except it was Thursday night. My friend described the same events that night in the same location. He was one of the guys who held the thief down until the on duty police showed up. Props to that undercover cop.

      • D

        er, off-duty not undercover.

      • Original poster

        Thanks for the clarification. My friend told me about it on Sunday, so I assumed this was from her Saturday shift (she also worked on Thursday). Glad to hear there’s some Good Samaritans out there!


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