21 July 2009

Carroll Gardens Bike Thief on the Loose

There are a lot of bike riders in my building. Some keep their bikes inside, some (like me) lock them to the railing or lamppost and traffic signs outside. It's always been a safe neighborhood. Few worry.

Lately, however, it's gotten very close just inside my front door. Everybody's brought their bikes inside. There are six or seven clogging up the ground-floor landing (including mine). Why? The word is out: there's a bike thief in the neighborhood.

I have heard of at least three stolen bikes on my block alone, one belonging to my neighbor. And the rash of robberies is not limited to my immediate area; it appears to be Carroll Gardens-wide. I went to the venerable Bike Shop on lower Court Street. This trusted business has been in the area for a couple decades. The owners said they had heard tell of many stolen bikes of late. And not just fancy new mountain bikes, either. Also old used bikes that many have assumed immune to robbery, given their limited resale potential.

We discussed possible culprits, and the Bike Shop owner made a suggestion that had never occurred to me: deliverymen. He said he'd noticed guys delivering food on bikes incongruously nice for their given duties. This seemed unlikely to me. Wouldn't people around the neighborhood notice them riding their stolen bike? The owner said bikes are easily disguised through paint jobs and such.

Who knows? But one thing's for sure. No bike is safe in Carroll Gardens at present.


other said...

I had my bike stolen outside of the Prospect Park YMCA on June 29 at 10:49pm.

I managed to obtain video footage of the bike theft - LINK

A photo I took of the near-worthless security cameras is here - LINK

I posted a report at BikeWise.org, too -

The police in that precinct have given me different answers depending on who I speak with and when, from "we don't deal with petty thefts," to "file another report with new evidence" (meaning the video footage I have, which no one was interested in viewing).

The only possible video footage worth anything (capturing the thief's face) is from Chase bank down the block, which requires a request from police to release video footage. If it was a bank manager's daughter or brother, or a relative of the Mayor, obviously more would be done. Improvements are obviously needed when dealing with situations like this.

Persistence is "key." You have to become a do-it-yourself detective.


Unknown said...

i just had my bike stolen outside of trader joe's on monday afternoon! any thoughts on whether or not it is worth filing a police report?

Josh Steele said...

What kind of lock were you using? A U Lock used to work fine, until thieves--with the help of the internet--learned how to pick them with a Bic Pen....

other said...

I think it's worth filing a police report so at least they have the data that a theft occurred. And I would search around and see what video cameras are in the area, and try to obtain the footage.

The computer system that had the video footage of the theft of my bike would not save the frames of the time of the theft, so I had to bring a portable video camera and record the footage from the computer screen. Plus, I brought the portable camera in case I was refused a copy of the footage.

As far as the question about the type of lock..I was in the process of purchasing a heavy duty lock (I now own a Kryptonite noose chain & a Krptonite U-lock) and thought I could lock my bike with a cable lock for less than an hour while at the gym. Never again.

Deborah said...

My bike was stolen on 7/9 right outside my apartment in cobble hill at 3pm in the afternoon. The bike was 10 years old...I couldn't believe it! Similar bikes are selling for $100 on craigslist. You say some delivery guy needed it for his job? So buy one don't steel one!!! I filed the police report so it was on record, but it is long forgotten.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

People: There is a reporter who would like to do a story about the rash of bike robberies. If any victims would like to take, contact me and I'll put you in touch with the reporter.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

DebbieT: Could you contact me. I have a question for you.


other said...

So News12 did this story

I spend about 40 minutes with the reporter which was edited down to a sound byte :)

However, two people told me that when they go to the URL, News12 asks what cable subscriber they are with, and does not allow them to access anything on the website. This does not happen to me when I visit it.

other said...

There are a couple good videos on bike theft posted at this forum LINK

And there's a post about a new bike valet at the Park Slope food co-op. These examples should be organized and circulated to help produce more ideas on combating thieves.

As a side-note, I was also told that there are some extreme cases of people using freezing-based chemicals applied to locks in order to make them brittle for breaking.

Unknown said...

I had my bike stolen from outside our apartment on Court st. It was locked up outside of Downtown Bar and Grill. It was a run down old mountain bike so I didn't bother with a good U lock for it. It wasn't worth much, but it was the only one I had and I can't afford to replace it. It would be great if we could get this information out to warn others. I have thought about posting some flyers around the neighborhood. Any other ideas?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Flyers would be a great idea, Kathryn. If the thieves know people are aware of them and on the lookout, they might desist.

Worner said...

Hmmm, I haven't checked on my bike in Cobble Hill in a long time. Wonder if it's still there. It's a real piece of junk, though. And if any local delivery guy stole in then I'll surely recognize him by the bike's distinct squeaks. It was probably just a matter of time before thieves took advantage of how comfortable these neighborhoods had become.

Unknown said...

I am pretty sure delivery guys aren't stealing bikes. They are guys who work hard for not much money. I recently read that what happens is that the Fences (the dudes that buy and sell stolen goods) call the restaurants to see if there is anyone who needs bikes. The delivery guys don't necessarily know they are buying stolen goods, and it can also be the restaurant making the purchases. Which makes sense.