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Stolen Bikes in PA?

Original post made by KSkel on May 17, 2008

While I was sleeping last night, my bike was stolen right outside my apartment on Curtner Ave, where it was locked up. I guess its my fault for thinking that a locked up bike would not be taken, but who are these people that just enter a complex that they don't live in and cut a bike lock? Do they sell them on Craigslist? I filed a report on PAPD.org but of course that won't lead to my bike being found.

Comments (25)

Posted by Carrie, a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Very sorry to hear about your bike theft. Just goes to show that Palo Alto is not the little special place some people think it is.

I don't have any words of wisdom, even though the same exact thing happened to me. My bike was actually on the 3rd floor, locked to a pipe with the best lock money could buy. Yeah, I know they're still breakable, but like you, assumed it would be enough of a deterrent. Nope - some damn thief went all the way up to the 3rd floor of my building, broke the lock, & made off with my bike. All in the middle of the night. Police have bigger fish to fry, & are not interested.

Hope you had insurance! Sorry to report that I didn't. And yes, I now keep my bike inside, & have insurance. (I moved, & made sure my new place had a place I could keep the bike inside.)


Posted by bill, a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2008 at 8:02 pm

This may not stop a bike from being stolen, but they should be licensed at the PAPD - I think at no charge. Then if it is recovered, you will be contacted.

Maybe removing the front wheel and bringing it inside will be a deterrent. I, too, think insurance is a good idea if the bike is worth anything.


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2008 at 9:23 am

The police will be licensing children's bicycles at the Barron Park Neighborhood party this weekend. They make a special effort to license kids bikes but figure adults will do it for themselves!!! If your bike is licensed with the PAPD and they find it, it can be returned to you.


Posted by It happened to us- and we located the bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm

KSkel,
I am really sorry that you had that experience. It happened to my son several months ago and I know how it is. It should be enough that you locked it. I think that it is probably a school aged kid. I have a few suggestions. You could go to the different schools and look on the grounds. Some times kids take bikes and drop them off once finished riding around. You might also go to the middle schools during school hours and see if it is there. A kid may have taken it and is using it as his own transportation. If you still have the sales receipt it has the registration number on it and that would help id it. Good luck. You really may still get it back- if you keep looking.


Posted by pd, a resident of Hoover School
on May 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm


you will probably get in trouble wandering around school ground during school time, that is an incredibly stupid suggestion

We do not like strangers on our campuses

check your neighbors instead


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2008 at 8:53 am

If you plan to be on school grounds you must register at the school office. Also some schools lock the gate to the bicycle area.

The PAPD registered 30 children's bicycles at the Barron Park Neighborhood party on the weekend. Now it's time to educate the adults to register their bikes.


Posted by no justice, a resident of College Terrace
on May 19, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Gosh, I wish those thieves would come rip off all the bikes on/near Stanford Avenue that Stanford students and commuters lock up to street signs. It's not enough that they are making parking into a problem for residents by leaving their cars in our neighborhood to avoiding the stiff parking fees on campus -- they also leave their bikes behind when they go back to wherever they live!!

Seriously, I know how it feels when something you value is stolen and you think you have taken adequate precautions, KSkel. But I've heard that there are professional theft who find our area to be good pickings because we all assume that it doesn't happen here.

One correction: Curtner is part of the Ventura neighborhood, not Midtown. Web Link


Posted by Alex, a resident of Midtown
on May 20, 2008 at 12:50 am

Grow up. You don't live in Disneyland.


Posted by Dave C, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2008 at 1:02 am

We lived in PA for seven years and never left my bike alone - locked or unlocked, we would always put it away after use, meaning inside and out of sight. How does that idiom go? Once bitten twice shy. When we lived in San Mateo, we had our bikes taken off the back of the car just before going for a ride. Our front door was open and the car was less than 25 feet from us - we never heard a thing. On top of that, we lived down a narrow long driveway, our place not visible from the street. The bikes were very cheap but classic – We were completely surprised that someone would take the effort to steal them. Also, someone stole our cheap bike rack from the car while we were out riding - it's pretty difficult to load two bikes in a small car! Now we live in France and here the same scenario plays again - leave something of value unattended and in sight, it may disappear. It's too bad it is this way. One suggestion– buy an ultra-cheap weekday commuter beater and paint it a hideous multi-rainbow color and use the expensive bike for the long rides, guarding it like a diamond ring. Let's hope the next bike stays with you long enough to wear out – I feel your pain.


Posted by It happened to us- and we located the bike, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2008 at 10:30 am

To pd and Alex -you know when someone is hurting about something and another offers a suggestion it sure would be more helpful and kind to not be so critical. Since our kids learn from us, how about modeling better behavior! Obviously I did not mean just waltz onto campus and peruse the bike scene. I did not think I needed to give a step by step account. At the school there is a sign that says go to the main office.
Certainly KSkel go to the main offices and explain your situation. The staff will be courteous. And it is good for them to know that bikes are being stolen from the neighborhood. I stand by my idea.
Good luck!


Posted by Don G, a resident of Community Center
on May 20, 2008 at 10:56 am

Overall, theft is up in Palo Alto. Just this March our 1999 Honda Civic stolen in daylight from in front of our house. It was recovered 1 month later in Sunnyvale with no damage and I'm still scratching my head how they broke in and started it. It looked like it was driven there once and left.

My son had his bike stolen at Paly a couple years ago. We watched for it the next few days, and sure enough, the idiot rode it back to school and locked it up, but we were ready with our own lock and re-locked it. Had the janitor cut the theif's lock off and we had it back. Sometimes there's nothing you can do except vigilance and have more eyes in the community looking for ANYTHING suspicious.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

A bike appeared this weekend attached to the stop sign on La Donna Ave at Barron. Is it yours? It has since been stripped but the frame remains.


Posted by Big Easy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Attention all disgruntled former bike owners-

we will be having a bike sale this weekend at the local

flea market in san jose- if you "recognize" any of the bikes that

are for sale we can give you a reduced price.



Posted by Ryan, a resident of Ventura
on May 20, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Wow, thanks Big Easy, you sound like a great guy.


Posted by cblasey, a resident of Stanford
on May 20, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Sorry about your bike. We have had 3 locked bikes stolen at Stanford West during the 3 years that we lived here. One had a children's trailer attached to it which we found down the street. We now have our bikes inside our very small apartment.


Posted by Who Are They?, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 20, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Who are those people who cut a bike lock & steal the bike, you ask? They're thieves, & they're all around us. Luckily, most around us aren't like that & the thieves find us relatively easy pickins' :(


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2008 at 8:48 am

PAPD reports vehicle theft stats but not bike thefts. What would it take to get stolen bikes taken as seriously as stolen cars or missing travelers checks?

Bike parking, bike theft, triggered lights and funky bike paths (try getting your bike through the California Street bike path underpass) all inhibit bike use for errands.


Posted by Be Smart, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2008 at 7:15 am

The PAPD have recovered so many unregistered bikes, they don't know what to do with them all. Register your bike at a local firehouse.


Posted by Mother of 2 theft victims, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2008 at 8:35 am

My son just had his locked bike stolen from Jordan this week and another son had his stolen from Jordan 2 years ago. Ask any student there and they have had at least one bike stolen. Same at Paly. I know one girl who has had three bike stolen there. Most are unreported.

When you multiply the cost per bike by the enormous number of bikes, this is a huge problem.

I think is is time we address this issue more formally and try to work with the schools and PAPD to come up with some stronger deterrents.


Posted by Parent, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Jun 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

Are the stolen bikes from the middle schools stolen from the bike cages during school or in the bike cages after school? Twice my son has had his bike "stolen" from the bike cages after school while he was at basketball practice. Both times we reported it to the office and spent some time looking for it. The first time we found it outside the Drop at Mitchell Park. Someone had "borrowed it" and taken it for a joy ride. The second time, after we repeatedly had told the office, they asked us to look at a bike they had in the office waiting to be claimed - it was his. It had been found outside a classroom after school and was waiting to be claimed and the owner reprimanded for leaving it where it shouldn't be. Because we had reported it missing, my son was let off the reprimand and again it was assumed to have been "borrowed".

Many stolen bikes do reappear. There was a case of someone with cutters trying to get into the bike cage at Paly and they were caught so this does happen. But, quite often the bikes can be found if you spend time looking for them.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2008 at 11:22 pm

some videos showing how easy it is to crack a bike lock

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Superman, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 9, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Scary stuff, Mike. So what do you use instead?


Posted by Tom, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 9, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Web Link
CBS Evening News – Police database / stolen bikes
Web Link
Cannondale using police database
Web Link


Posted by newbike, a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2008 at 11:50 am

My brand new bike was stolen just two days ago in broad daylight. and it was locked up - well. Both wheels and the frame were secured to a bike rack in an open location with lots of foot traffic that could have seen suspicious behavior. I had just registered my bike *that* morning and I filed a report but the chances of getting it back are slim. know your bike's serial or frame number! it is usually stamped into the frame on the underside near the petals - or on a barcode in the same area of the frame.

I would love to see this issue taken more seriously by the police - maybe bike registration could include a GPS chip.

tip: check flea markets for stolen bikes - a friend of mine spotted a bike just like mine this morning at a market up by San Fran, sent me a picture of it via cell phone, and I alerted the local police.


Posted by Shannon, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 15, 2008 at 6:52 pm

Yes, the bike thefts are very depressing news. A Campanile reporter wrote an opinion about bike thefts at Palo Alto High:
Web Link
Paly students understand how you feel.


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