This story in the Santa Monica Daily Press (11/08/2006), titled, "They go in cycles
HOT WHEELS: Bike thefts problematic" is kind of interesting.
And as the writer points out. It is not new in Santa Monica. And has been written about many times before.
They Go in Cycles, HOT WHEELS: Bike Thefts Problematic
BY MELODY HANATANI
Daily Press Staff Writer
DOWNTOWN — A customer walked into the Performance Bicycle Shop on Monday to replace a bike that had been stolen on the beach earlier that day.
“He said he turned his back for five minutes, turned back around and saw the bike was gone,” said Operations Manager Phillip Wilson.
It’s the type of story heard in bike shops across Santa Monica, where bike thefts seem as common as parking tickets. With shiny cycles and Lance Armstrong wannabes around every corner, sporting rides that cost thousands of dollars, Santa Monica is a hot spot for bicycle thieves.
“We get at least one or two people every day who say their bike got stolen or they’re getting a new lock because their friend’s bike got stolen,” Wilson said.
The Santa Monica Police Department does not currently keep statistics specific to bike thefts, which falls under the category of misdemeanor thefts, but according to Capt. Alex Padilla, the department does recover a substantial number of looted bicycles every year.
“A lot of people don’t report their bikes stolen because they figure they’ll never get it back,” said Padilla, adding that recovered and unclaimed bicycles are auctioned off.
Thefts are more common in Santa Monica and its surrounding areas than in other parts of Los Angeles County for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the prevalent riding culture and the price tag that comes along with the shiny rides, said Scott Eisiminger, service manager at Triathlete Zombie on Santa Monica Boulevard.
“Santa Monica is affluent and people have expensive bikes,”Eisiminger said, pointing to a row of bikes in the store that cost between $6,000 and $8,000 apiece.
The bike theft industry works similarly to the car “chop shops,” where thieves dismantle the automobile and sell its expensive parts.
Similarly, bike parts are also expensive and very desirable,Wilson said.
Some of the common bike parts stolen and resold are wheels and lights, which can easily snap off, even if the bike is locked,Wilson said.
“They take the bike, paint it and sell it the way it is, or sell it piece by piece,”Wilson said.
Though it’s never safe to leave a bicycle unattended and unlocked, regardless of the location, there are discernible hot spots where bike theft tales are a constant, such as: the beach, from Malibu down to Venice; low pedestrian traffic areas, like alleys; and high vehicular traffic areas, such as Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards, where many thieves know they can find a bike left on top of a car roof or inside one.
Bicycle thefts can also be prevalent at Santa Monica College, where many students opt to travel via two wheels, rather than by car.
There are theories about how thieves operate in Santa Monica. The Performance Bicycle Shop customer whose bicycle was stolen on Monday believes there are thieves who sit along the beach waiting for people to leave them unattended.
Eisiminger believes there are thieves who drive along Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards, waiting for someone to leave their bike on top of a car, or inside one overnight.
“Somebody probably drove by here [in the past five minutes] looking for a bike,”
“Bike theft” are two words commonly heard in Triathlete Zombie, where customers have talked about stolen riding equipment, and where three store bicycles on display just outside were stolen within the past year.
It’s often the source of local complaints.
“We literally hear about it every day,” said Jeff Botello, manager of Helen’s Cycling on Broadway. “Sometimes multiple times a day.”
Bike owners can take precautions such as using a steel U-shaped lock instead of a chain, which can be easily broken.
For even more security, Botello suggests tying the bike using a U-lock and locking the wheels to the frame with a chain.
But even the mighty U-lock won’t provide 100 percent protection.
Videos posted on the video web site YouTube show demonstrations on how to break through a top-selling U-lock using nothing but a plastic pen.
Perhaps the best way to prevent a theft is to keep a watchful eye on the bike at all times.
“Nobody here leaves their bikes unattended for a minute,” Eisiminger said. “Sometimes they have their friends watch the bike for them.”