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“DC Police told me to call metro police who told me they can’t do anything”

by Prince Of Petworth August 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm 25 Comments

blue bike lock

“Dear PoPville,

After locking my green bike (the bottom one) to a bike rack on H Street on Saturday, I came back to find someone else locked their bike to mine. DC Police told me to call metro police who told me they can’t do anything. I went back to check on the bike twice today (Sunday) and it’s still locked to mine. How can I get my bike unlocked?

It’s parked on 17th St. NW in between H and Pennsylvania, if that helps. 311 sent me to a voicemail who hasn’t called me back. Went by again this morning and the blue bike is still locked to my bike!”

Unfortunately last time this happened to someone there weren’t many good suggestion beyond confirming this is indeed a common tactic used by bike thieves. Though one reader has success with MPD:

“This happened to me once. I called the cops, when they showed up and verified that it was my bike being held hostage (common practice to later steal it) they told me to go find tools or hire someone to cut the other persons lock. They waited there until I went home and retrieved my angle grinder and cut the lock. Not sure what they did with the other bike, but I overheard the radio conversation and they said to take it to the police station.”

  • Huma

    OP, what does the black/orange sticker on the frame of the blue bike say?

    • Locked bike

      It’s a warning label from the bike’s manufacturer

    • Biked is locked!

      It’s a warning label from the manufacturer

      • Huma

        Ah got it – was trying to recall if I’d seen the bike parked around the area (I work close by).

  • b

    A battery powered hack saw and 15 minutes will cut that lock –I’ve been in a similar situation(and similar lock). I found my recently-stolen bike locked up on Georgia Ave and called the police. Since I had reported it stolen, they verified that I was owner and actually helped me cut it loose.

  • Mojotron

    I posted a pic last week of someone who had sawed off one of the “half rings” from a bike rack like the one pictured thinking it was the bike thief who had done it, turns out it was someone who had their bike locked like yours and wanted to retrieve it before it got ganked.

    • Anon

      Though it’s probably better to saw the lock so that the bike rack remains usable.

      • Mojotron

        They said they tried and were unsuccessful, this was last resort- they then took the u-locked wheel to a place that used nitrogen to break it off.

  • Swdc

    Cordless drill and a really good 3/4 inch metal cutting bit can drill out the lock cylinder in about 5 minutes.

    • Rower32

      Do local hardware stores have a service to cut these locks??

  • dulcinea

    I know that Annie’s Hardware in Brookland and Petworth rents bolt cutters and angle grinders by the hour. Other stores might also. Go grab one! Good luck.

  • bike avenger

    I would unlock your bike and now you have two bikes. You can crack that lock open at home using any number of techniques found on youtube.

    Also DC police is lying to you. Whoever you spoke to is just being lazy.

    • DF

      The u-lock from the future thief goes through the bike rack (it’s hard to see in pic) so you gotta detach it from there before you walk home with two bikes.

  • Neighbor

    Hacksaw plus elbow grease and you’re golden.

  • celilo

    Something like this happened to my bike outside the Columbia Heights metro station, but it wasn’t a second U lock, it was a padlock on a chain. I walked to the fire station on 14th Street on some guys from there brought a bolt cutter down the street and freed by bike.

  • CAH

    If someone did do this in an attempt to steal your bike, I wonder if you had used a u-lock yourself it might deter this sort of thing? I see in the photo you are using a cable lock. Perhaps the thief thought it would be easy to cut, they just wanted you to leave your bike until there were fewer people around so they could cut it without an audience. Please update us with what happened – did you get your bike back and how, and what happen to the other bike.

  • LadyInBlue

    Cut the darn thing… If you feel bad put a lock on theirs and let them deal with the same headache….

  • Ashy Oldlady

    So today’s cyclist should consider a battery-powered angle grinder a piece of essential equipment to carry around with them.

  • Missing Seats?

    Why are the seats removed?

  • Park View

    OP, have you had any lucking getting the lock off? If not I’m happy to lend a hand with my cordless reciprocating saw.

  • Chris

    Given the fact that there’s no seat post binder on the blue bike I would say it’s almost certainly being used to set up a theft of the green bike. My guess is the green bike’s owner removed the seat post and saddle from their bike to prevent theft whereas the lack of a binder bolt on the blue bike leads me to believe there was no post and saddle on the bike when it was locked up.

    If I were the OP and was unable to cut the thief’s lock right away, I’d invest in a better lock (U lock or chain) and throw it on the bike until I could get the locks removed.

  • Green Bike Owner

    Green bike owner here. Yes, I threw a U-lock on the green bike this morning so no one could cut my chain lock. And I took my seat off the bike so no one would take it either. 311 called me back and said that I could formally notify them that the blue bike is abandoned, and they would tag it and cut the U lock in 10 days, but they couldn’t assure me that my locks wouldn’t be cut as well (since technically, my bike is abandoned too. Did you know that a bike sitting outside for more than 12 hours is considered abandoned?). They informally suggested that I could use an angle grinder and self help, which I am considering. Secret Service, who has 4 cars parked on the block, did not have the right equipment. But at least they will be keeping an eye on it. If this was someone’s idea of stealing my bike, they picked a crappy place to do it. If anyone has an angle grinder (or experience using one), and can help, please let me know.

    • Park View

      Green Bike Owner, I have an angle grinder with diamond tip blade on it and work few blocks a way. I’d need a source of power though. Is there a store or something within 50 ft that would let you tap in to an outlet? (I also have a cordless reciprocating saw, but this would be more time consuming). You can reach me at wastenotliving AT gmail.com

  • Green Bike Owner

    My bike is free! Park View met me today to free it, but the blue bike was finally gone. Three cheers for Popville commenters!

  • jrn

    This same thing happened to me in Adams Morgan a few years back. I left a note with contact information telling the person to contact me or I would have the lock cut. The next day I got a call, and it turned out that it was actually just an honest mistake.


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