What should I do when I find an abandoned bike in the city?
Many people contact police regarding abandoned bikes, whether found in their front yard, tossed in the bushes by a business or other locations. Likely, these are stolen bikes that have been abandoned for one reason or another.
If you see what appears to be an abandoned bike, contact police via the non-emergency line (503-823-3333) to request that the bike be taken to the property room as found property. [Note: you can be listed as the property owner and petition to take possession of it if no owner is located in the next 60 days.]
What happens next? The bike sits in the property room to await a match for an owner. Police can check police reports for any reported thefts. We also utilize bikeindex.org and project529.com, which list bikes that are reported stolen. [Note: These are public registries that are accessible to the public, also.]
Here’s an example of how this has helped in reuniting bikes to owners:
I found my stolen bike listed for sale on Craigslist!! What can I do now?
Here are some suggestions, though ultimately, it will be up to the officer with whom you work:
- Save a screenshot of the posting; capture any contact info from the posting.
- Attempt to make contact with the seller (many use a dummy email account) and set up a meeting.
- The BTTF also would like to be notified via email so police can track these: BTTF@portlandoregon.gov
- Once a meeting is established, notify the Portland Police via the non-emergency line 503-823-3333. An hour in advance should provide a little lead time. A public place, such as a coffee shop, is a commonly chosen meeting location. The dispatcher will likely ask for your stolen bike police report number, so have that handy when you call.
- When the BTTF assists with these, we ask the victim to be involved in the transaction so they can positively identify the bike as theirs. We often will ask the victim to wait until they see visual confirmation of the bike at the meeting location, and then notify us while we wait nearby. We then will confirm the identity of the bike, negotiate the recovery and investigate the incident.
- Bring any additional documentation of your stolen bike, such as photos/ peculiarities about the bike, etc., especially if you don’t have the serial number.
- Finally, never do anything you aren’t comfortable with or anything that could put your own public safety in jeopardy.
I found my stolen bike on eBay! Is there anything I can do?
- Please notify the BTTF via email and include the eBay link. BTTF@portlandoregon.gov
- Often, the seller is local, but if there is a geographical issue, it may be more challenging. However, some sellers are still willing to negotiate to return the bike. In addition, it may already be an account that is under investigation and linked to a known seller.
I am buying a second-hand bike. Is there anything that I can do to ensure it’s not stolen?
Police are often asked this question and it is a good one because there are potential criminal implications for purchasing stolen property. The burden of proof is placed on you to do your homework before purchasing something from a private seller.
ORS 164.095 Theft by Receiving: A person commits theft by receiving if the person receives, retains, conceals or disposes of property of another knowing or having good reason to know that the property was the subject of theft.
Remember the following:
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is! Please don’t try to justify it internally without making an attempt to ask more questions/make observations that might answer those suspicions. Buying a bike you think is likely stolen is inexcusable and perpetuates the theft cycle.
- If it seems fishy, it probably is! Trust your intuition. Notify the police if you think someone is trying to sell you a stolen bike. Maybe we can help answer some questions.
- -Do a quick 60-second search on Bikeindex.org and Project529.com to ensure that it’s not listed there.
Good questions to ask are:
- Where did you get the bike?
- How long have you had it?
- Can you tell me about any modifications you made to it?
- Do you have any paperwork for the bike?
- Can I have your name/phone number? (may be a good idea to ask to look at their ID for a match)
- Are the answers consistent/quickly produced?
- Is the person being purposefully vague about the details?
- Does the bike seem out of place with the seller?
- Does the size fit the seller’s build?
- Are there locks still attached to the bike? (If yes, and the seller says he “doesn’t have the keys with him right now” =STOLEN!)
- Is the frame dented? (Indicates that it was forced from the lock during a theft)
- Does the seller even know what he has (make/model, etc)?
Bad question to ask the seller:
- “Is it stolen?”
-Nobody would ever say “yes,” so this is a pointless question.
-If you find yourself about to ask that question, you are probably looking at a stolen bike.
Looking online can be a great place to start your search for that new bike. Police just ask that you use caution, given the volume of stolen goods being resold out there. Contact us if you have any comments/questions. Have fun!