Want a Happy Ending if your Bike is Stolen?

By Norman Thurston, Utah State House District 64 Representative and bikeprovo Board Member

A year ago, I decided to stop using my car to get to work. It’s about 2 miles from my house to the FrontRunner station in Provo, then another 2 from Salt Lake Central to work. I saved up my money and invested in a nice commuter bike (Specialized Crosstrail) and added some features thanks to some suggestions from a friend in the Provo bicycling community. I registered it with Provo City at the BIke Collective. It was also registered on bikeindex.org

Here I am on Bike to Work Day, along with Lucy Ordaz, another bikeprovo board member, at UTA’s breakfast station.

At work, we have a covered bike rack right outside the front door which made it easy to lock up and get in the building.

On Sept 19, when I came out out the building to ride home, there was no bike, and the cut lock was laying on the ground. I called 911 and a patrol officer from SLC PD responded surprisingly quickly and took the report. Fortunately, the bike rack is covered by our security video system, so they were able to provide SLCPD with a close up of the person that stole it as well as video of the whole sequence of events.

Here is the video (the suspect appears at about 44 seconds):

The woman who stole it had actually come into the building, talked with the security desk to ask about using the restroom, then left the building. A minute later she was seen coming back straight to the bike rack with some kind of tool that she used to cut the lock and calmly ride away.

With the video evidence, SLCPD was able to identify the thief (Oct 17) and get the prosecutor to file charges in a few weeks. (At the moment, they are still looking for her, but are confident that she will show up sooner rather than later.)

About 2 months after it was stolen, I got a call from the detective that the bike had been located at a pawn shop in South Salt Lake. They found it there during a routine check of serial numbers in the pawn database.

The detective was very helpful in getting through the process to seize the bike and get it returned. It took about 3 weeks from the time they found it until I got it back.
It is in suprisingly good shape – someone added a kcikstand and a water bottle holder – but it does need a tune-up now.

Lessons learned:
1. Make sure you keep the receipt showing the serial number and the value. (That was very helpful to the police.)
2. Register the bike with local PD and on bikeindex
3. Get a really good lock (I had a cable lock, now I have a U-lock)
4. Don’t park in the same place every day.
5. Keep the bike inside a building if you can.

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