Many Bike Thieves Lurking In Spots Denverites Ride To Most

By Mark Ackerman

DENVER (CBS4) – According to a CBS4 data review, the Denver Police Department recovered 7 percent of the 2,579 bikes that were stolen in Denver last year.

(credit: CBS)

Thieves steal bicycles in a Denver garage in this file image (credit: CBS)

But, the chance of recovering a stolen bicycle more than doubles (16 percent) when owners register their bikes with the police department.

DPD’s recovery rate is slightly higher than in Boulder (5 percent) and Aurora (6 percent). The Douglas County Sheriff’s office says it doesn’t keep bicycle theft statistics.

(credit: CBS)

A bike rack at Union Station (credit: CBS)

Some of the top spots for thieves are the places that cyclists like to go most, like Union Station in Denver, where Kristal Griffith came face to face with a bike thief.

She was returning from brunch with her mother when she saw a man trying to take off with her bike.

“I was like ‘that’s my bike!'” she recalled the thief screamed back, “No, it’s not.”

By the time Griffith got to the bike rack she physically grabbed her bike, “and he ran like the dickens around the corner.”

She thinks he cut her cable lock and stashed it in his bag, because the lock was nowhere to be seen.

Kristal was one of the lucky ones. Since 2014, 20 cyclists haven’t been so fortunate, having their bicycles stolen at Union Station.

(credit: CBS)

REI (credit: CBS)

REI’s flagship store in Denver is another popular destination for cyclists and also for bike thieves.

“Five minutes in the store to buy socks,” said like Mike Rubinstein as he locked up his bicycle outside REI. “I’ll take the risk.”

“It’s just one of the risks you take being able to live this lifestyle,“ said his wife Esta. “This (bicycling) is part of what makes Denver great.”

But biking to REI was a bad gamble for 19 cyclists who’ve had their bicycles stolen near the store over the past two years.

The top three addresses for bike theft in Denver were all apartment complexes:

  • 2300 Walnut (35)
  • 2020 Lawrence (32)
  • 901 Colorado Blvd (20)

Thieves often follow unsuspecting residents inside and then the stolen ride bikes right out of the complex.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Police recommend locking your bicycle even if it’s parked inside.

LINK: Register your bike at denvergov.org/…/police-department/

DPD Detective John McGrail recommends using a u-lock instead of cable locks which are much easier for thieves to cut.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

For extra security some people are using both of the most common types of locks (cable lock & u-lock) at the same time.

Once that bike is gone, it’s probably not coming back.

“The recovery rate of stolen bikes is very low,” said McGrail.

Even if police find a bike, McGrail says “It’s hard to identify who the owner of the bike is.”

In fact, every six months DPD auctions off bicycles that they can not reconnect with owners. The next bike auction is on July 16.

Jonathan Edwards’ bikes were stolen from Denver’s overall top spot for bike theft: a garage.

Edwards says thieves dislodged his garage door and took three expensive bikes. They passed up tools and ski equipment and left without taking anything else. He says police told him to look on the internet for the bikes, together valued at $8,000.

“They didn’t hold out much hope,“ he said. “They recommended that we check on Craigslist here and potentially in neighboring areas.”

He also installed a surveillance camera to help police in case thieves strike again.

“It happened once, shame on me. But, I’m not going to let it happen again,” he said.

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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