“When it’s inconvenient and takes time to steal your property, you’re less vulnerable to theft. The longer it takes, the more likely a thief will move on,” says Officer Brian Orth, a member of Tigard Police’s bike patrol team. This advice is useful for preventing bike theft, a crime that rises dramatically during warm-weather months.
In summer, Tigard Police respond to a significant number of thefts involving unlocked bicycles taken from the sides of homes, porches, open garages, or public places. Recently Officer Orth stopped a man who admitted to “borrowing” the bike he was riding after he found it unlocked and parked at the library. Fortunately, Orth was able to intervene and return it to the owner.
Any lock will help, but quality matters. Bike thieves are crafty and can defeat locks that are easily cut, picked, or pried open. Some of the basic prevention tips include:
- Choosing sturdy locks such as a U-lock; cable locks shouldn’t be used as a primary lock.
- Securing your bike to a strong, firmly rooted rack or fixture meant for bikes.
- Locking your bike tires to the frame and bike rack.
- Taking all removable parts, including the seat, with you or locking them up.
- Parking your bike in a well-lit and visible location where there is a lot of foot traffic.
- Documenting your serial number to improve the chances of recovery if stolen.
The best way to recover a stolen bicycle is to file a police report, providing accompanying photos and serial numbers for the vehicle. “If you flip the bike over, the serial numbers are on the crank shaft area. Take a picture of it or write it down,” says Orth. If you don’t have a serial number, unique features, such as stickers, handlebars, custom parts, or scratches, can help the police identify your bicycle if it’s recovered.
Some bikers sign up with private bike registration companies to keep their serial numbers and photos on file in case they are needed. Two companies that serve our area:
If a bike is stolen, the registries broadcast the information over their networks. Users can also input a serial number to verify whether a bike is stolen, which has led to some recoveries by community members.
Officer Orth recently took a report from a resident whose bike was stolen out of an open garage. Because the victim provided his serial number for the police report, the information was timely entered into a regional and national law enforcement database. A pawnshop entered the serial number into a database that alerted the police that someone was attempting to pawn the stolen bike. Ultimately, the victim got his bike back!
Officer Orth values crime prevention and encourages neighbors to be mindful of locking up bikes, tools, doors, and windows this summer. He also asks neighbors to look out for each other. Where possible—in between calls to 9-1-1 and the non-emergency number—he tries to proactively patrol neighborhoods to keep a watch out as well.
Officer Orth is a 13-year veteran of Tigard Police who started his career as a Reserve Officer. He has served on the bike patrol team for nine years and prefers biking over driving when he’s off the clock whenever possible. He is regular participant in Sunday Parkways events.
Theft Prevention this Summer
Thefts from yards, garages, and balconies tend to increase this time of year.
When gardening and working outside, neighbors may leave garages open and tools and other items out and unattended while taking breaks or working in the backyard. Thieves may not be targeting a residence in particular, but steal things that can be easily taken when no one is around.
We encourage you to do what you can to reduce vulnerabilities this summer where possible. If you are unable to monitor an area, please:
- Close and lock garage and front doors, sheds, and gates. We occasionally hear about thieves entering unlocked side doors through garages and stealing purses, wallets, and phones stored near entryways.
- Secure open windows with track or other secondary locks.
- Lock up ladders and other items that can be used to reach vulnerable windows and access points.
- Secure tools, equipment, and bicycles. Many bicycles are stolen from open garages, balconies, sides of homes, and sheds that have minimal security. Tools can be used to pry open doors and windows.
- Secure air conditioner units on accessible windows.
- Look out for your neighbors. Let them know if they leave equipment out or forget to close their garage door. Inform trusted neighbors about your vacation so they can watch your home while you are gone.
- If you observe suspicious activity, call:
- 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property, crimes in progress.
- 503-629-0111, the police non-emergency number for Washington County, for suspicious activity that is not an immediate threat.
Please take a few precautions this season to reduce vulnerabilities to crime.
Home Security During Vacation
If you’re travelling during spring break or summer, please take additional steps to secure your home. Because burglars target homes that are unoccupied, a good strategy is to make your home look lived in while you’re out. Here are a few suggestions:
- Schedule lights (interior and exterior), radios and televisions on timers, or activate them remotely, to make your home appear occupied. When lights are left on all day, it is obvious that no one is around.
- Place a hold on newspapers and mail during your leave. Make sure packages will not be delivered while you’re away.
- Don’t announce your vacation plans on social media before or during your vacation. Post your photos and trip information after you return.
- Ask trusted neighbors, relatives and/or friends to look after your home including:
- Watching over your place and removing advertisements/circulars. If they know who will visit during your vacation, they can more readily identify suspicious activity. Share contact info so they can communicate with you if there is a problem.
- Bringing recycling bins to the curb on collection day and returning them after trash service.
- Parking in your driveway, so it looks like someone’s home.