“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.” - Dr. Seuss
by Chason Gordon
- The Capitol Hill Times -
As someone who puts “the Club” on his car as routinely as I breathe, I can understand the heartbreak of getting your bike stolen (though it doesn’t dissuade me from stealing bikes). They say that a bike is stolen every minute. That’s actually how I tell time. “I’ll be there in 15 stolen bikes,” I say. Having a bike stolen is truly horrible, because it forces you to walk on your stupid, slow legs with all the other bipeds. No one should have to experience that.
The Seattle Police Department has newly launched a bike recovery project, so that people can avoid having their bikes melted into steel for gas-guzzling cars and tanks. Bike owners are advised to take a picture of their bike and record its serial number, so that police can more easily facilitate a tearful reunion (“I’ll never leave you outside again!”). After filing a police report, people can follow @GetYourBikeBack on Twitter to see if new bikes brought in match their description. Mine was tweeted the other day! The tweet said, “Found: pink bike, with baseball card between spokes. Bike smells of licorice and has stickers of naked women all over it.”
According to the SPD, many bike thefts involve the ragamuffins simply taking the bikes for a joyride and then abandoning them, just as people do with cars. This is a shock to me – I did not know you could take bicycles for a joyride; I just don’t associate them with joy. I associate cars with joyrides, planes, toboggans, even scooters, but not bicycles. They seem more utilitarian. But I suppose that having your bicycle taken for a joyride is better than having your car taken, because you won’t end up finding your bicycle filled with condoms and smelling of boozy, illegal sex. Or maybe you will, I don’t know.
It works like this: Using candy, someone lures your bike into the back of a van. They treat it poorly, biking recklessly, slamming on the brakes and never once oiling the gears. The bicycle ultimately develops Stockholm syndrome and falls in love with its captors, who soon grow tired of the bike and dump it in a ditch. Later, the police find it, wrap it in a shawl, and take it back to the bicycle storage room, where they put it away like that final scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Eventually, the owner comes in and police bring out the bicycle. “Is this yours?” they say, but the owner sees that his bike is only a shell of itself, not the bike that he once knew, and so, with a tear budding in his eye, he says, “No, that’s not it. I’ve never seen that bike in my life.” The bicycle is then taken back to its cell, screaming the entire way. That’s exactly how it happens, I think.
Of course, not all bikes are recovered by the police. Sometimes you have to get justice yourself. When I was an eight-year-old boy, my bike was stolen, and I received a call from the thief. Before he could talk, I said, “If you’re looking for ransom, I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my BMX go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.” True story. It was then optioned and became the movie “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson. They changed the bike to a girl, but the violence was all mine.
There are a few precautions you can take to make it hard for thieves to steal your bike. Instead of locking your bike to an outside rack, put the bike in your car. You’ll have to have someone follow you in your car wherever you go, but the increased safety is priceless. You might also consider walking your bike with you where you go. Why leave it anywhere? Would you leave your child tied to a bike rack outside of a Forever 21? Exactly. And don’t forget to make your bike extra secure. Use premier electroshock bike locks, tie it down with snakes, and have a homeless person guard it (while paying another homeless person to watch that homeless person).
Losing your bicycle is like losing an extension of your legs, I think. Everyone should take advantage of this program and constantly remain vigilant in the fight against bike theft, except if you’re a recumbent cyclist. Just let that thing go, man.
On twitter @chasongordon