Almost daily, bikes gets stolen somewhere along the beachfront. Mention bike theft on NextDoor.com, and you'll get numerous responses. Here are a few Beach & Bay Press got recently:
- “I've given up on bikes because so many were stolen over many years – locked up around PB and also from my yard and garage. Only safe way is to keep them in your house.” – Diann Shea, PB North Shore Highlands North
- “... found a bike stolen in the alley and later found a bunch of money on the ground, clothes, a mask, duct tape, black gloves in a nearby trash can plus a black sweatshirt in the courtyard where bike was stolen from ... kind of scary finding all that stuff in a trash can near where the bike was stolen.” — Paula Patti, Crown Point North
- “I've probably had 15 to 20 bikes stolen in the last 25 years here in PB. Sawed through locks, taken out of my garage or any other number of ways. A handful of them could probably be considered my fault for not exercising enough caution, I suppose, but at this point I just consider it a beach tax. Sad but true.” – Stephen Hanning, Riviera Sail Bay
- “We had our two eBikes stolen out of our office garage, located at 4666 Cass St., on March 19… We ordered these bikes ($3,000-plus value), and it took us eight weeks to have them delivered... We only got to ride them once before they were stolen. … Thieves cut the large padlock off the garage door, then cut two of the Club UTL utility locks off each of the bikes.” – Maureen Martin, PB North Shore Highlands North
That's a sampling of PB bike-theft incidents, with new ones continuously being reported.
Dan Niefer, of San Diego Police Department's Northern Division Bike Squad, is among a team of officers whose job it is to try and catch bike thieves. Typically, “bait bikes” outfitted with GPS tracking are left in designated areas attempting to lure prospective thieves.
Noting bike thefts are “crimes of opportunity,” Niefer said all types of crooks out there, from transients to professional thieves, steal bicycles, which are then often delivered to neighborhood “chop shops” to be repurposed and resold.
“We've seen people walking around with backpacks full of lock cutters, pics and all manner of devices to defeat locks,” Niefer said, adding he's uncertain whether the actual number of thefts is rising dramatically.
“I think that (bike theft) awareness is higher now because of social media like NextDoor,” he said.
Niefer said NextDoor has proven a useful tool to get leads and help track down thieves. This is good, he said, noting no bike lock is impregnable.
“I've seen these guys defeat pretty much every kind of lock, even heavy-duty chains or cables,” Niefer said, pointing out the best thing to do with a bike is “not to leave it out at all. If you're not using it, keep it inside a locked garage or another good spot.”
The police bike detail has now gone citywide and is getting results, though it can take time, said Niefer. He added police are also getting better at tracing bikes once they're stolen.
“We had an arrest last week where the bike was taken to a chop shop,” he said. “There were about 50 broken locks laying around and an assortment of bike tires and other pieces – an unreasonable amount of stuff. We shut the place down.”
Niefer welcomes any and all information and tips he can process and hopefully turn into leads to find stolen bicycles. He can be emailed at [email protected]