As I walked home from work Sunday afternoon I noted a rather nice bike seemingly left as garbage near a dumpster across the street from my house. Curious, I went over to investigate. There was a kickstand disengaged and left in its cradle, and the tires had ample air, yet this newer looking ride seemed to be discarded, left as refuse. I scoped around to find no one about, so took it upon myself to claim the bike, and as I did so I figured this was a bike thief’s bounty left behind for whatever reason. The next day I placed a found ad in the bikes section of Craigslistand then tweeted it too. The results shocked me, and this is why the bike thieves are winning:
In my ad I gave a basic description of the bike and the geographic locale, and of all the more than a dozen responses I received surprisingly not even one came close. From Bianchis to beach cruisers from the university areas to the Marigny, bikes had gone missing in the last little while, almost like a two-wheeled rapture, if you will. Inexplicably there one moment and gone the next. In one case the victim relayed a a story of a busted tree or branch during the process of the theft. Clearly bike thieves have no code and have no geographic preference. Wherever the cheddar, you just may find the rat.
My family too has a fresh bike theft story to share as well. On opening day for the Saints this season, we decided to visit Audubon Zoo. It was a lovely if not quiet and sunny afternoon until we returned home to discover my wife’s bike had made an untimely exit. The thieves (or thief, who knows?) had likely boosted themselves over our eight-foot wooden fence and let themselves out via an unlocked driveway gate. Shame on us for leaving it unlocked? Maybe. Either way the perp(s) was clearly trespassing. We called NOPD who quickly showed up actually to take our report, but frankly I didn’t think anything would happen. I was just going through the motions.
Then I sent an email to my friends and neighbors to both alert them to the theft but to also ask to be on the lookout for her bike, a distinctive beach cruiser with discernible markings, easily identifiable. We hoped for the best but expected nothing to happen, mostly just upset about the disruption it caused. You see, we are a single car family, and my wife uses her bike almost every day as a primary form of transportation to get to and from work. It stung but we moved on, until a neighbor a few weeks later found her bike unlocked and just sitting outside a fast food spot on S Claiborne.
We debated what to do. Should we call the police? Would they really do anything? How likely would it be the perp was either a patron or worked there, and how less likely is it they would reveal themselves? Lastly, would it be a good use of the NOPD’s time? And on that note we collectively decided it best to re-steal the bike. Because the time it would take NOPD to do something and the likelihood of punishing the guilty seemed nil. So my neighbor grabbed the unchained bike that without question belonged to my wife, threw it in the back of his pickup and returned it to us. I heartily thanked the universe. This bike meant something more to us; I’d actually given it to her as a present some years ago.
Ours is a reluctantly happy story though, and very much in the minority. Our driveway is padlocked now, too, and all our bikes are accounted for. Lastly, at press time, no one has claimed the one I found the other day. So I ask you, what’s the solution here?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.