$1000 reward offered for bicycle stolen in Brookland

by Prince Of Petworth May 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm 61 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Christopher Schmidt

Boiling point reached in Brookland (from their listserv):

“Not sure when, but sometime in the last few days we had another bicycle stolen from our shed. It’s a light green Jamis Aurora, men’s style, even though it’s mine.

Yes the shed was locked. Yes one bike was locked up within the shed, and that one is still there. Yes we have insurance that will cover PART of the cost of replacement. Yes we installed cameras. My husband is reviewing the tape today to see if there’s anything useful.

We’ll probably start keeping bikes inside- something we’ve been loathe to do because WHY SHOULD WE- we have a locked shed outside, and a curious, accident prone toddler inside. We’ll look into a taller fence. I’ll wrap my bike up in razor wire and unlock it every day wearing oven mitts because you know, that’s apparently a reasonable expectation around here. Fine.

However, we are sick and tired of criminals coming onto our property and stealing bicycles that are a huge part of our lives. We have now lost both bicycles that we rode 400 miles together on our honeymoon. The bicycle I rode everyday till 35 weeks pregnant. The bicycle my husband took apart, took on an airplane to Europe, put back together and rode to every beach in the Normandy invasion.

I’m pretty laid back but my patience for this s*** is gone. This person (or people) targeting our home is someone who- while perhaps not a resident in the neighborhood- knows it well and is around frequently. As such, there’s a good chance someone knows something, or has seen something.

We’re offering a $1000 reward to anyone with information leading to the recovery of our property and/or the dissolution of this operation.”

  • Linc Park SE

    Funny post – and I feel your pain. Even when my bike is well locked, Im surprised at the stuff stolen OFF of it- (dirty plastic rear fender, bell, lights) – and I had a brand new bike stolen about 8 months ago. Im sick of it too.

    Best of luck in recovering your wheels!

    • dunning-kruger

      Something I always did back when I rode my bike everywhere was split an old innertube and wrap the chainstay to protect it but I’d also sometimes wrap the top tube or other areas with branding so my bike would look fugly and nameless. Not a magic bullet by any means but I thought it helped.

  • Phil

    How about a bicycle shipping cardboard box left outside for bait and a bear trap set by the shed?


    • Cleveland Park runner

      As a joke, this is funny. As advice, this is terrible and will get you sued in a heartbeat.

  • DRC

    I feel your pain and know your anger. I had two bikes stolen that were locked up inside my condo building, right next to my car in our double key access underground garage. One was worth a decent amount, but didn’t have the sentimental value yours did. Thankfully, I refused to keep my ‘good’ bike down there and my wife put up with it mounted on the wall in our spare bedroom.

    We will gladly welcome you and your cycling family to Alexandria when you decide you’ve have enough of the never-ending, unpunished crime in the city.

    • DF

      Cause I’m sure bike theft never, ever happens in Alexandria. Sheesh.

  • BikerBiker

    I have to ask: how was the shed locked/secured? Is there a motion sensor light around the shed? Why weren’t the bikes secured to each other within the shed?

    I’m just confused by this. If this has happened before, then surely there would have been more action before this. Not trying to victim blame: just understand. A solid chain and padlock might be enough to deter would-be thieves.

    As someone who has also had a bike stolen, I go through great lengths to make sure mine and my gf’s bikes are secured every night. It becomes a bit of a pain in the mornings to undo all the lockups, but at least I know that ours are secure.

  • Lyndsey

    It makes me so angry that your post is exactly what we all have to begin with when WE justify to others how our bikes were stolen as if it’s our fault for not u-locking them to our necks each night when we go to sleep.

    “Well how short was your skirt?”

    • Anon Spock

      Unlike sexual assault which happens to the clothed and the unclothed, bikes that are stolen are typically those which are easiest to steal. Usually these posts end up with people asking how it was secured to better secure their own bikes.
      We can feel sympathy for this couple without overlooking poor choices like simply locking up both bikes inside the shed if they preferred not to explore indoor storage options.

      • HaileUnlikely

        “Poor choices?” Come on. If somebody has already gone to the trouble of breaking into and physically entering the shed, they ain’t leaving without the bike, and have already demonstrated that a lock will not stop them.

        • Anon Spock

          They left 1 bike behind, so yea, that’s not true.

          • HaileUnlikely

            The “they” may well have been one person who came on foot, left on wheels, and was satisfied with his take. That he did not take both bikes–which can be a bit more cumbersome than taking just one–is not good evidence that he would have left empty-handed if only they were locked.
            And more to the point, can you take your contempt for other people and their “poor choices” and stuff it somewhere for a little while. It gets old.

          • Anon Spock

            As do the strong opinions of (usually) older white women who seem heavily fixated on what I say and how I say it. If you folks spent as much time focusing on your job, love lives, lack of friends, etc you probably wouldn’t be here complaining about the same stuff day in and day out. Being happy and carefree is possible I’m sure of it.

      • DRC

        My bike was locked through the frame with a U-lock to a 6″ metal fence post and rear tire secured with a cable. It was inside a fenced in bike storage area secured with a chain and padlock. The storage area was on the 3rd floor down in an underground parking garage. The only access to the 3rd floor is either through two garage doors that only residents that have paid for parking have, or through the resident fob-access front door and elevator. So a dude with an angle grinder got through 2 doors he didn’t have access to and cut through a chain, my U-lock, and a cable, then walked right back out of the building with it past multiple security cameras watched 24/7 by a concierge or security. The only bike I had in that building that wasn’t stolen was hanging on the wall in my 2nd bedroom at all times.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Somebody who is determined and doesn’t have a lot else going on in life will be quite content to stand by the garage door and wait until a resident opens it to drive through. An angle grinder fits in a backpack. A resident who is driving through the door from the inside to the inside to leave, rather than going the other way to enter, probably wouldn’t even notice. A building that has a parking garage that goes 3 floors deep probably has enough residents that the concierge who probably gets paid somewhere between 1-2x minimum wage is not going to recognize all 100+ residents and their guests. The operation that you just described would not be very difficult to accomplish.

    • marybindc

      THIS. Exactly. Thanks Lyndsey.

    • Erik

      Really really sorry to hear the news…especially given the sentimental value. It hurts my heart to hear stuff like this. Given all the security expenses/challenges, and to make life easier, recommend moving to a different part of the city or out of the city. It is Brookland, and one should expect this type of activity. It’s unrealistic to expect any better behavior at this point in time, unless in other areas. A while other areas mitigates this challenge very effectively, it doesn’t make it go away. Sad face.

      • stacksp

        Is Brookland a bad neighborhood or something? Bikes get stolen all over the city right?

      • also anon

        “It is Brookland, and one should expect this type of activity.”

        What? Are you being serious? Property crimes happen everywhere. Where exactly would you recommend the OP move??

      • eva

        That’s a super weird thing to say. I know people who’ve had their bikes stolen in Logan Circle, Georgetown and in the “Golden Triangle” in the middle of the workday.

      • Erik

        Bike do get stolen all over the city, in surburbia, and even out of gated communities (and gated properties within those gates communities) in Beverly Hills. I address this in my original post by saying, “A while other areas mitigates this challenge very effectively, it doesn’t make it go away.”

    • Sarah

      Bingo :)

  • Billy

    I’ve had two bikes stolen in that neighborhood. One was properly locked in front of Brookland Pint, and there were 4 patrons standing around while it happened.

    Obviously, law enforcement needs to start taking bike theft more seriously.

    • TiredofCrimeinGeneral

      I would take greater enforcement of physical assaults/shootings over property crime enforcement first…..

      • textdoc

        It’s not an either/or.

  • Rower229

    It happened to me last year from our garage, I had just completed creating a custom gunner.

    I would say is there any possibility of having a security system installed on your shed, I know have a security system, cameras, and lights and so far they seem to be a great deterrence.

  • ANC

    We had ours stolen from inside our house during a break in. The police were like, “well, what do you expect? They weren’t chained up.” Naively, I expected that things inside my locked house would remain inside my locked house.

    I’m sorry this keeps happening to you (and others.) It sounds like a lot of amazing memories were made on that bike.

    • anon

      Jesus – that response is infuriating.

    • Sarah

      Do they chain their tvs to the walls in their homes? Ridiculous.

  • Timebomb

    It sucks that this keeps happening to them, but the solution appears to be right there in the post; the locking shed’s lock is not that useful, but the bike lock within the shed was. If keeping the bikes inside is so sub-optimal, lock both bikes in the shed. Invest in a new lock for the shed.
    I just don’t know what the implication of all the “fed up with crime” complaints is. What could be done? Should there be stakeouts for property theft? Sting operations? I know it’s annoying and precarious to point out violent crimes in the city to diminish the grievance of property theft, but if we’re advocating for a complex series of stakeouts in the city to avoid bike thefts from sheds, not sure what else to say. I know any suggestion about more locks or keeping the bikes inside is going to be exactly what OP was trying to avoid dealing with, but in what world is it okay to set up complex police operations to avoid buying additional locks? Would it actually even solve the problem? Another thief is just going to pop up. There’s no reason to think people are actually deterred by enforcement, even if we do decide we’re going to punish bike theft by execution or 20 to life or something.

    • ***

      Well… I remember several years back when I lived in LA and bike theft was getting out of control, groups of bikers would team together, plant decoy bikes, wait for someone to attempt to steal it, and then attack them. It became pretty routine. Police wouldn’t do anything either way. So – we could all resort to vigilant justice. OR there could be actual penalties for bike theft put in place and enforced.

      • Timebomb

        Oh, are those the only two options? Well then I guess law enforcement surges on bike thefts are the obvious solution. Anyway bike owners could do something like this without committing violence and getting the perp in police custody peaceably? Genuine question. If not, I’m gonna stick with advocating for as many locks as it takes.

      • Timebomb

        Btw, also a better use of police time: arresting and prosecuting people who turn non-violent property theft into violent vigilante justice.

    • Sarah

      I think technology is going to be the answer, not stings. Works for cars, right?

      • Timebomb

        Agreed! The tech is called locks. They are getting better and better all the time. You can get digital ones with codes so you don’t have to keep keys, or bluetooth so you can unlock them with your phone. You can put cameras around too, but those are useless, because getting from a picture of someone to an arrest is a long haul that would require a lot of resources that at least I, as a taxpayer, would rather put towards helping the poor or modernizing our infrastructure or something. Not freeing us from the tyranny of having to lock things.

        • Sarah


          Q: if locks are so magical how do locked bikes keep getting stolen?

          There are not so subtle dig here that I don’t appreciate. I’ll respond to why my bike wasn’t locked up like the other one in a thread with minimal mansplaining.

      • Timebomb

        Oh, you can also probably get a GPS tracker for your bike. You can get them for your dog’s collar, so I’m sure there’s a bike variant. If you tracked your bike effectively, I imagine the cops would help. They don’t so much with Find My Phone apps, but a bike would presumably be parked unattended in plain sight. If you can prove it’s yours, they’ll cut the lock for you.

  • My bike lives in my kitchen

    You MUST store your bike inside, and you MUST have a good alarm system. Anything left outside is fair game. My bike was locked to a steel bar inside of a metal fenced yard with barbed wire at the top. The thieves used some type of blowtorch to cut through the metal fence and lock. I have also seen people with angle grinders blazing through chained up bikes with sparks flying everywhere. It is like out of a movie. You can’t take too many precautions if you want to own a bike in DC.

  • spookiness

    Entrepreneurs, how about a bicycle alarm system incorporating exploding dye packs, like used in bank money bags? Pepper spray? Or a security deterrent based on electric fence components? (But I guess that wouldn’t work with alu or carbon fiber). I’m semi-serious.

    • V


    • Timebomb

      Dye packs maybe, but pepper spray is a bit much. I mean, why not an automated gun turret? Automated violence is probably a direction we don’t want home security to go in.

  • V

    I know it’s frustrating, but “why should we???”…

    because they keep getting stolen

    we all deal with things that aren’t fair, even though we shouldn’t have to

  • V

    also, loud alarms are AWESOME

  • Anonymous

    I love the juxtaposition of the numerous commenters who said the bike should have been kept indoors vs. the story of the police officer investigating the theft of a bike kept indoors who asked why the bike wasn’t also locked to something inside.
    Lesson: There is always something you could have done to prevent being the victim of a crime and there is always someone more than happy to point that thing out to you.

    • Sarah


  • TJ

    Is the reward figure correct? $1000 for a $1000 bike?

    • uberfeets

      +1. I need to get into the bike-stealing-and-returning business

  • petworthian

    does the fence have a gate? if so, did it have a lock?

    • HaileUnlikely

      What is your point? Most healthy young men (the demographic that steals bikes) can figure out how to get over just about any fence that DCRA will let you put up. I’m about a decade and several ham sandwiches past my prime and I can get over a 7-foot fence in about 15 seconds without any trouble.

      • petworthian

        i was asking because i was curious how determined the thieves were. although thieves can indeed scurry up fences, oftentimes a small additional deterrence is enough to keep them away. i totally agree that sometimes it’s not, but that was what i was trying to ask about. it was an innocent question, no need to get sassy.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Sorry. There was a whole lot of victim-blaming going on up above in other posts; I assumed this was more of the same.

        • Sarah

          Petworthian, your question didn’t bother me but Haile I appreciate that you had my back. :)

          Our fence sucks in 9000 different ways. Unfortunately improving it’s a long term fix because $$$. But yeah, it’s on the list.

  • DE

    If only there were some sort of force that could, I dunno, police the city for theft and other crime. I can’t think what we’d call it if we had it.

    Even if you bring your bikes in, you still have creeps getting onto your property. It doesn’t sound very nice. Best of luck to you, and may the video help if you can get MPD to care.

    • J

      THIS. Geez. I hope the video at least prompts MPD to help.

      • Timebomb

        What would MPD do, exactly? Take stills from the video and post them all around town? Tear into nearby neighborhoods and schools and ask all the kids if they know the perp? What do you people want from the world? Is this just about vindicating your bike more than retaining it? Is that why some kind of magical police action is so much more preferable to more locks??

        • jcap

          “What do you people want from the world?”

          Timebomb, this isn’t ‘Nam . . . there are rules.

          People who follow rules want others to follow those rules too. It may sometimes seem naive, but it isn’t ridiculous.

          • Timebomb

            I asked what MPD could possibly do and your response was “fix it so the world works the way we all want it to.” This is exactly the problem. If you don’t want to sound naive, own up to whatever solution you’re implying exists. Chances are, we’ve already tried as a society and it backfired.

        • victoria

          Or Timebomb – perhaps the communities that generate/enable/ignore the young people who become slackers/petty thieves/ murderers/rapists could do some self-examination and find a way to help their own people not become abusers and criminals.

          • Timebomb

            Sure! Are you American? A DC-area resident? Then it’s your community. We need to be investing in our education and public services and making sure we truly integrate people into our society so they don’t feel like they’re at war with it. But this is a slog that doesn’t solve any problems 100% and doesn’t work overnight, and doesn’t provide the high of blaming a demographic group or advocating for some vague mysterious tough-on-crime initiative.

  • Billy

    This is the third example of a post where Timebomb is showing unwarranted hostility towards a rational opinion. Any chance we can ban him?

  • samanda_bynes

    just had my very unique bike jacked too – locked up in dupont at 4pm of all times and places. there’s a special circle of hell for bike thieves. basically my entire mode of getting around and visiting friends is MASSIVELY changed until I either a). find it, or b). buy another. it’s so personal, it’s ridiculous.


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