Rumor Mill: Are bike thefts going up?

Here’s a warning sent to us at our tipline at from a reader who got burned locking up her bike outside her apartment:

I am emailing to mention the fact that a lot of bikes have been stolen on my block in the last week. I am on Passyunk between Mifflin and Moore streets. I had my bike locked to my mom’s bike and the thieves actually took bolt cutters and cut through her frame to get mine.

One reader's dearly departed bike
The remnants of one the dearly departed bike. Ouch

The reader said her bike was a single speed worth about $300. Her mom’s, which was basically cut in half, was a three-speed cruiser. This is the second report of bike thefts we’ve gotten in the past couple weeks. So is this a bona fide crime trend?

No, according to Officer Juan “Ace” Delgado, a community-relations officer at the 3rd Police District. He told us that last week there were eight bike thefts in the district, which covers south of Lombard Street, east of Broad. There are usually about 10.

But Delgado did say that bike theft, like other crime, does spike each summer. “We try to educate people on these types of things because bikes do get taken more in the summertime because more people ride bikes in the summer,” Delgado said.

He said that the vast majority of the 86 bike thefts reported in the last six months occurred because the owner either left it unlocked in the back yard or locked it improperly or not at all in front of their house. Bikes that are locked properly with sturdy locks are rarely targeted.

Of course, none of this would have helped the reader who lost two bikes in one fell swoop. Delgado said he had never heard of a thief sacrificing one bike with bolt cutters to get to another. Just in case, though, don’t lock your bike to another bike.

One thing you can do is register your bike with the 3rd District, at 11th and Wharton streets. Call 215-686-3033 to see if Delgado, another community relations Officer Harkins, or crime prevention officer Michael Duffy will be there. Bring a picture of the bike, which they can attach to the registration and alert officers to be on the lookout. Also, if you have a surveillance camera at your house, register it with the department’s Safe Cam system.

Of those 86 thefts, eight arrests have been made, Delgado said, so there is a slight chance you’ll get your bike back if it’s registered. Another helpful tip is to write your name and contact info on a card and attach it to the underside of the seat so you can be contacted if the cops happen to come across the bike.

So, does this sync up with what you’ve been hearing? Any terrible stolen bike stories out there?


3 thoughts on “Rumor Mill: Are bike thefts going up?

  • July 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

    The only reason that frame was cut was because it is composed of two small tube, not the ordinary one larger diameter tube. Bolt cutters do not open wide enough to cut the standard size frame tube. (well technically you could get a pair big enough, but they’d be about 5 feet long).

  • July 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    My bike tire was stolen while the frame was locked up in front of my house near 12th and dickinson.

  • July 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I had my bike stolen outside of the Library at Broad and Morris where I work. They had to chop 2 krypto locks to get it. 2 weeks later I had my front tire stolen from my other bike at the same location. I feel like I see people losing tires and bikes way more often than I remember (15 year years commuting via bike in Philly). frustrating!! thanks for the write-up.

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