Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Case of the Disappearing Bike

Bikes have a long and sordid history at my place of work.   You would think a simple bike -- or the bike rack it is locked to -- would not be that exciting.

We've had stolen community bikes from Vassar College that were left at the library for days.  No one knew it was stolen.  Everyone assumed that there was a student in the building at the time, and they had ridden it over.

There was also a guy who stole a bike from the rack outside the library.  The teenage girl it belonged to, and her family, were obviously very upset.  They called the police and reported it stolen, as anyone would do.  Do you know how they got it back?  The jerk who stole it was dumb enough to ride it back to the library.  Not the brightest move, riding it back to the scene of the crime. 

Then there was the time the entire bike rack got stolen.  Oh yeah.  I'm sure it gives everyone a feeling that their bike is completely safe when the thing they are locking it onto gets boosted.  We had it on the security video, too, but not a good enough shot to identify the people.  Two creative guys with skateboards propped it on their boards, one under each end, and rolled it into the middle of the parking lot.  They did it right in the middle of the afternoon on a day we were closed, brazen as anything.  We watched the video and saw one guy face-plant after trying to do a trick on it.  It was a patron who used the bike rack who discovered that it was stashed behind the fence of the house down the street -- you could see it from an angle when walking by the property.  We got it back, and it is now secured so that it can't be stolen again.

There have been other bikes that were stolen.  One guy actually had his bike lock stolen, but they left the bike.  I still don't get that rationale on that one.

The latest incident, however, gets the prize for the weirdest bike-related thing I have ever seen.  I'm calling it The Case of the Disappearing Bike.

For the last couple of  weeks there has been a bike locked to the bike rack at work.  I assumed someone had ridden over and then either the weather got bad, or they had too much to carry, and they decided to leave it and come back for it later.  I wouldn't leave anything I valued there for a prolonged period of time, but people tend to think libraries are safe places where nothing ever happens.

Last week I noticed that the seat was missing.  Strange, but not really that strange.  I couldn't remember if the seat had really been there before.  There are people who take off the seat when they lock their bikes up to make it less attractive to thieves.

Saturday I noticed that as well as the seat being missing, the rear tire had now also disappeared.  Is there a really creative thief who is slowly stealing the bike piece by piece and rebuilding it at home?  He (or she) took the seat first, and when no one came back for the bike they decided to take a tire?

Today the handlebars were also missing.  WTF?!  It's like the bike is slowly being mined for parts.  Are multiple people just taking the parts that they want?  Where is the owner of this thing, cause they are going to be pissed when they see what is left.

 Picture by me!

That's what the bike looked like today.  No tire, no seat, no handlebars.  Just a sad half-bike left to wait in the rack.

Another picture by me!

You can see that they took the tire, but left the chain.  Parts are bent.  I'm not sure if that is a cut brake line, or the actual bike lock that is laying on the ground.

Final picture by me!

It looks so weird without a seat and handlebars.  Are the parts that are left even worth salvaging?  Someone is going to have a cow when they see what has happened to their bike!

I have the day off tomorrow, but  I am really curious to see what is left of it when I go back to work Thursday morning.  Will the front tire be gone, leaving a few sad metal triangles lying on the ground?  Will someone have taken mercy on the bike and just have taken the whole thing, thrown it in the dumpster and put it out of its misery?

To any bicycle fans reading this: are there more parts missing that I didn't mention?   Let me know!  

Stay tuned for any updates in this case.  Maybe it will just slowly rust and form some sort of odd public art project in front of the building.


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