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Finding Stolen SW Minneapolis Bikes A Tall Order

Many owners don't take basic precautions.

, perhaps the same ones who visited several houses on a Lynnhurst block last month, have struck again. On Thursday, a house on the 4400 block of Pleasant Avenue South had its garage broken into. The thieves made off with a $2,500 bicycle, according to a report on the incident filed by officers with the Minneapolis Police Department.

But where have all these bicycles—at least 40 stolen this summer—gone?

When contacted by Patch, Minneapolis police spokesperson Sgt. William Palmer wouldn't confirm or deny that police are investigating the possibility that an organized ring of bicycle thieves, saying only that police continue to investigate the spate of garage burglaries in Southwest Minneapolis. Police have arrested several men for  local  in the last few months, but their connections to other local burglaries have been tough to ascertain.

According to an employee/owner at Longfellow's The Hub bicycle coop interviewed by the Star-Tribune, "it's common knowledge that thieves work in networks in which they target expensive bikes, break them down in chop shops and sell the parts."

If a thief wanted to sell the bike whole, he or she would have a tough time doing it locally, Charlie Siftar of the said. 

"They'd probably have to take it out of state," he told Patch. "(Theft victims) are watching Craigslist for their bikes."

When someone comes in with a high-end bike to sell, but who doesn't seem like the typical owner of a $2,500 bike—shabby clothes and bicycle ignorance, for example—Siftar said Tangletown Bike and it's sibling store in Uptown, ReCycle, start asking questions. The store never buys a bike, he said, unless the owner can show documentation, like receipts, proving that they own the bike.

More often, though, the shop has discovered stolen merchandise when a thief brings a bicycle in for service before trying to re-sell it. Their vigilance, he said has helped catch several thieves over the years. All used bike shops, Siftar said, have access to a database of stolen goods. Being able to search for a stolen bike's serial number greatly increases the chances of recovering a bike.

Anna Schier August 14, 2012 at 09:13 PM
With all the recent thefts, it's good to hear that the bicycle community is being vigilant about preventing the sale of stolen bikes. If your bike's been recently stolen, check out the link below to a nifty online forum on Minneapolis Bike Love. It's essentially a lost and found for stolen bikes: http://mplsbikelove.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=16

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