83°Partly Cloudy

PoPville PSA – No Matter How Comfortable You Feel, Don’t Lock Your Bike to Your Porch Overnight

by Prince Of Petworth October 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm 15 Comments


“Dear PoPville,

Overnight [October 11th] my sister’s friend’s bike got its two tires stripped on the 700 block of Hamilton Street, NW. It had been on the porch for almost two weeks no problems. In hindsight it was horrible idea to have it on the front porch for so long. If anybody has seen anything we would appreciate if you guys could call (786) 247-6179. Tips for handling this situation are appreciated as well. Is it worth filing a report with the Police?”

  • Maire

    For this type of thing you can file a report online without ever calling the police. They will call you back to clarify some things and that way you have a report if you need one and you’re contributing to the stats so the police have the information. You can do it through the MPD website. I did this when someone stole the battery out of my scooter and it was great. I would not have called 911 for that but I wanted to file a report – so I recommend that option. Sorry this happened :(

  • Anonymous

    Whenever I get a new bike, I replace all of the quick releasing sittings with nuts and bolts. To this day, I’ve never lost a seat or wheels (most bike thieves don’t care wrenches). This measure, plus a decent u-lock should be sufficient, most of the time.

    • Anonymous

      sittings=fittings (oops)

  • MiddleOfNowhere

    Please do file a police report. If it’s not counted (i.e. a report filed), then the police don’t care. By filing a police report, you help the police understand where the problems are (whenever they decide to do something about them…)

  • Idaho Ave

    I would like to stress that this block is VERY SAFE and this neighborhood is more than wonderful.

    That said, I live on the 700 block of Hamilton st nw. and one of my housemates bike was stolen off our porch over night too – about 6 months ago or so. A friend in the neighborhood was over one day, came in side to ask to borrow something and 2 minutes later when he went outside, his skateboard was gone. Someone definitely has an eye out on the block for this stuff.

    Again, though, This neighborhood is great and I don’t know more police presence will solve the problem. Getting to know the neighbors more and better will go further.The police already harass and subject most long time residents to stop and frisks and jump outs that are more than questionable. We see/film police harassing more young people around here than a lot of other places in DC and that only serves to further divide the neighborhood.

    • Anonymous

      Was the bike that was stolen locked up? Either way, it’s worrisome that you can’t even leave your bike out overnight.

      • Idaho Ave

        Yup hers was locked up. :(

        I do agree its worrisome that you can’t leave a bike out locked up overnight on one’s own porch, I don’t however agree with some that the police are the best way to handle this. Police don’t prevent crimes, and when heavier “enforcement” is brought in, it usually plays out as harassment and torment on those that they deem the most vulnerable. The problem should be solved by addressing the systematic, societal issues that would lead someone to take a bike. Working with neighbors, getting to know neighbors, etc is getting to the root of the issue and actually would help the community whereas police would marginalize many further.

        • BitterElitist

          You sound like an awesome neighbor to have.

          FWIW, I keep my bike inside :-/

  • hiphopanonymous

    That sucks for your sister’s friend. Sorry.

    I’m not sure the porch is such a bad idea, but leaving it in any one place with the wheels unlocked for multiple days is inviting trouble. Sad part of city living I guess.

    In future, make sure you always lock the wheels as well. Here is a guide http://priceonomics.com/bike-locks/ Remember the back wheel is more expensive, so if you only lock one, do that one. If you want to do both you can get a cable to loop around the front wheel and u-lock, or remove the front wheel and place it next to the rear wheel so you can lock both up on the same u-lock.

    • Anonymous

      Not just city living. I know of more bikes stolen out in the suburbs than in the city. I think it’s because people don’t lock up their bikes or garages in the suburbs, so it’s easier to steal a bike there. Also they leave their garage doors open overnight and stuff like that.

      • Anonymous

        And if houses are far apart/hidden from each other, there are fewer eyes noticing unusual activity.

  • DF

    On my way out to work at 4am on a Sunday, there were a couple guys hanging around the entrance area of our apartment building in Columbia Heights scoping our some bikes locked up. Obviously they didn’t live there and I imagine the sight of me scared em off.
    I would never leave a bike outside, locked or not, apartment or house. You think these kids actually buy a bike? Nah, they’re all stolen.

  • Vered

    Well, it’s a dilemma. It’s understandable that people don’t want to bring their bikes inside indoor urban spaces, where bicycles have no function and take up needed space. They are meant to be outdoors. But a couple of years ago our bike was also taken from our front porch overnight after my daughter left it there secured with only a cable. Now the replacement bike from the thrift store resides out of sight in the backyard.

    If you must store a bicycle on the porch for heaven’s sake don’t leave it on the front rail, like the one in the picture above! Try to store it off to the side, secured with several locks, as a previous poster has suggested. a thief can defeat any lock, of course, but may be deterred if there are more than one. Maybe even throw a dark tarp over it so it is less conspicuous at night.

    By the way, I live not far from 700 Hamilton block, and I agree about the friendliness of the neighbors. Generally there are plenty of people on the street, not to mention the elders sitting on the porches, and people do take action if they see anything going on. The porch thefts are generally more of a problem at night.

    • Idaho Ave

      I actually have been kicking around the idea of maybe setting up a sting….Get an old bike, chain it like this, go upstairs and watch from a top window….Our thefts from hamilton st have happened often times between 6pm and 9pm. We could try to get the face/picture of the person doing it. If possible then talk to them with people from the block/neighborhood… New residents, long time residents…everyone seems to get along. If they arent receptive we could then just flyer the neighborhood with their face. If a group could find out who it is, find out whats going on with them and in their life, we could make some change from the grassroots level without putting a charge on someones record and who knows, maybe even get some stuff back. Would

  • gotryit

    Surveillance camera on the bike for me. The one time mine was stolen off the front porch (unlocked – stupid me), I had clear video of the “gentleman” doing it.

    For Idaho Ave – that might be easier than sitting by your window all day.


Subscribe to our mailing list