Chief's Corner: Many bicycle thefts used for temporary transportation
By Mike Reiten
In recent weeks, the West Fargo Police Department has investigated a significant number of thefts of bicycles.
Similar stolen bicycles have been used by a few to commit other crimes.
Past incidents have included subjects using the stolen bicycles to ride through an area and commit thefts from motor vehicles and unlocked buildings or acts of vandalism. After committing a crime the suspects would abandon the bicycles and leave the area.
The police department also impounds a number of bicycles each year to which no owner can be found. The abandoned bicycle may never have been reported lost or stolen so police are unable to match the found bike with a police report. The found bicycles are frequently missing the required West Fargo bicycle license.
Without a police report or a license, locating an owner is nearly impossible.
There are several things the public can do to reduce crime and increase the number of bicycles returned to the rightful owner.
First, secure the bicycle with a bicycle lock or within a locked building when the bicycle is not being ridden.
Second, license the bicycle with the West Fargo Police Department. A bike license costs $1.
For the dollar, the police department will record a complete description of the bicycle to include the serial number. A numbered license decal will be attached to the bicycle frame and can be used to locate an owner if the bicycle is recovered.
Third, report a lost or stolen bicycle to the police department.
If the department has a report there is a chance we will be able to match a found bicycle to an owner. An officer may also be able to criminally charge a person for being in possession of a bicycle which has been reported stolen.
Fourth, contact the police department about a bicycle which appears to be abandoned. The sooner the police can recover a bicycle the better chance a suspect can be identified and the bicycle can be returned to the owner.
Another reason to report abandoned bicycles is that people who commit other crimes while using a bike as transportation will often leave a bicycle in an area where they plan to return. Removing their transportation will hinder their criminal activity.
The simple acts of licensing your bicycle; securing the bicycle when not in use; and reporting a lost, stolen or abandoned bicycle can reduce crime in your neighborhood and possibly reunite a child with their prized method of transportation.
Reitan is the West Fargo Police Chief.