It’s heart sinking. You look around and ask, “Where’s my bike?” The answer you deny is, “It’s gone.” You look again and again to make sure. But it’s gone. I’ve experienced this twice myself. When I was six, my very first bike was taken from my front yard. When I was 15, the first bike I bought with my paper route money was taken from my front yard. It sucks.

One morning last August, Bryan Agee woke to find his garage had been opened during the night. The thieves used a tool to reach in over the top of the garage door and pop the emergency release. Among the missing property, four bicycles were gone. Agee called the Spokane Police who responded and took his report. He and his wife rely on their bikes for transportation so much that the battery in his car was dead from lack of use. He borrowed a bike from his dad so he could go to work.

The next morning, Agee was barely four blocks from home on his way to work when he saw someone riding towards him on one of his bikes. “Hey, that’s my bike,” he said out loud. The guy heard him and took off. Agee gave chase while calling the police, but he lost the thief. He came upon two Spokane Parks employees and asked if they’d seen someone speeding by on a bike. They described a bike to him, and he said that was it. They pointed at a house across the street. “It’s in there.” The police arrived, contacted the occupants, and Agee retrieved three of his bicycles. The fourth had been sold. Agee was luckier than most victims.

A determined thief will do whatever it takes. Photo: Hank Greer

A determined thief will do whatever it takes. Photo: Hank Greer

Dan-Vi Hoang kept her bike in the entryway of the fourplex she lives in. Although it was locked, it was not secured to anything inside the building. But she knew her neighbors and felt comfortable with it, until one morning last September when she was leaving for work and discovered her bike was gone. In her words, “The thief had some balls to come inside our doors and wrestle my bike out the door.” It was a painful loss. This was the bike she toured on and used to commute to work 3-4 times a week. She filed a police report but hasn’t seen a trace of her bike since.

Two and a-half years ago, OTM contributor Erika Prins locked her bike to a light pole in downtown Spokane one evening. She returned an hour later and her bike was gone. For her it was more than losing a $1,400 bike. Not owning a car, her bike was her mode of transportation. She eventually replaced it and several months later was notified that a pawn shop had her bike. But now she had a new problem. The pawn shop had paid $300 and the bike was on a “police hold” since it was stolen. She could pay the $300, which she says the police officer recommended she do, to get her bike back. Or she could wait for the case to be resolved, which has and will take years.

Remember to lock the bike to something. Photo: Hank Greer

Remember to lock the bike to something. Photo: Hank Greer

I spoke with a couple of pawn shop managers about this. One would only say, “Anything that happens is up to the police and the victim.” Another was more forthcoming. If he buys a bike and later learns it was stolen, he’s required to hold it for the police until the case is resolved. But he will return it to the victim if the victim reimburses the pawn shop’s costs. You can understand why Prins would be upset about this.

How many bikes are stolen in our area? The Coeur d’Alene Police Department reports 105-122 bikes stolen every year since 2010. The Spokane Police Department stated they track thefts and burglaries but not what was stolen. But with over four times the population, I would guess Spokane has a lot more thefts than Coeur d’Alene.

What should you do to protect yourself? Record the serial number and take photos of your bike. Register your bike with one or more local and national registries. Secure your bike properly with a high quality U-lock and cable. Do what you can to make it hard to steal.

If it is stolen, it’s not your fault. Complete a police report as soon as possible. Update the registries. Spread the word and photos via social networks. Use searchtempest.com to check multiple craigslist sites and Ebay to see if it’s up for sale. If your bike is gone, doing these things may help you get it back. //