This article is courtesy of one of our Oregon Ambassadors, Steve Piercy, on our discuss page.
I’m sorry your bike was stolen. Don’t despair though. Many people here in Lane County and its cities of Coburg, Cottage Grove, Eugene, Florence, Junction City, Oakridge, or Springfield, Oregon, and the surrounding communities are working to fight bike theft. You already have a head start on recovering your bike.
Right now, though, there are several things you need to do. Let’s walk through each step.
- File a police report
- Register with Bike Index
- Spread the word!
- Look for your bike “in the wild”
- Watch for your bike being sold online
1. File a police report
Immediately file a police report for your stolen bike. The chances of recovery go down the longer you put this off. When you file a police report, it is then flagged in a national crime database, which is accessible to participating law enforcement agencies.
The jurisdiction in which you should file your report depends on the location of where the theft was committed. In the unincorporated areas of Lane County, contact the Lane County Sheriff. Most incorporated cities have their own police department and crime reporting procedures, but there are a few exceptions: (1) Creswell and Veneta contract with the Lane County Sheriff for police services, and (2) University of Oregon in Eugene has its own police department. When contacting law enforcement for stolen bikes only, use the non-emergency telephone number or online report.
2. Register with Bike Index
We can help spread the word when you register your stolen bike with Bike Index. Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) hosts a bike registration and stolen bike form, and they will amplify alerts about stolen bikes within a 30-mile radius through their social media channels. Listing your stolen bike with Bike Index is free and fast. It quickly gets your stolen bike information out to bike shops, fellow cyclists, law enforcement, and other Bike Index partners who look for stolen bikes, even if that bike crosses state lines.
If your bike is already registered in the Bike Index:
- log in
- click “Edit” for that bike
- click “Report stolen or missing”
- click the friendly big red button “This bike is stolen or missing!”
If your bike is not already in the Bike Index, gather as much of this info before you start:
- The serial number - If you don’t have your bike’s serial number, check your purchase documentation or call the shop where you bought it. < target="none" href="https://bikeindex.org/where">Many local bike shops use Bike Index to automatically register new bikes, or may ask you if you want to register when you bring your bike in for repairs.
- A police report number - See Step 1.
- Photos of your bike - If you don’t have any photos, even a stock photo of a similar bike is OK.
- Good descriptions - Include descriptions of any unique components, stickers, dents, or details that help identify your bike.
- Get any photo or video surveillance - If there is photo or video of your theft, try to get a copy. Post it to YouTube, and include the video link in your listing. Don’t forget, your neighbors and nearby businesses may have cameras that caught your theft, even if you don’t have any cameras of your own. Ask around by going door-to-door, and posting on community websites such as Nextdoor.com. Bike Index’s Twitter feed for Eugene, @BikeIndexEUG, posts a lot of these kinds of photos and videos.
Once you have as much of the above information as you can collect, report your stolen bike through GEARs. Alternatively you can create an account directly through Bike Index, then log in to list your stolen bike. Once your bike is registered and reported stolen, they will be posted automatically via our Bike Index Eugene Twitter feed, and the bike’s information will be available to all our area partners, including Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs) on Twitter and Facebook.
But wait, Bike Index does more with stolen bike promoted alerts! With a promoted alert, Bike Index creates and distributes a visual stolen bike alert to people in the victim’s area via Facebook. With three alert “tiers” to choose from, Bike Index can affordably help victims share their stolen bike details farther and wider to a hand-picked audience sympathetic to bike theft.
3. Spread the word!
Finding stolen bikes is a game of numbers. The more people looking out for your bike, the better are its chances of recovery. You can help your cause by spreading the word. Tell everybody you know about your stolen bike. If you’re in an apartment building, post a flier printed from your stolen bike page on Bike Index. If someone stole your bike from a business, alert the building management. And of course you’ll want to hit all the popular online methods, because Craigslist isn’t the only place thieves sell stolen bikes online anymore.
- Twitter - If you’re on Twitter, post your Bike Index link, photographs of your bike, and tag @BikeIndexEUG and local law enforcement agencies.
- Facebook - Facebook is a good next step. Post your bike, mention all the specifics, link to its Bike Index listing, and maybe some stolen bike or neighborhood groups.
- Instagram - Bike Index on Instagram is a great resource. Post your bike, mention the make, model, the city or county where it was stolen, and tag @bikeindex so we can “regram” it.
- Reddit - We see stolen bike posts on Reddit all the time, and there’s a lot of eyeballs there, too. /r/Eugene is a good place to start for the Eugene/Springfield area.
- Nextdoor - Nextdoor has lots of local eyeballs there, but you must validate your residency in order to post to it.
4. Look for your bike “in the wild”
It doesn’t hurt to just cruise around town and look for your bike “in the wild”. Tons of bike theft victims have spotted their bikes in the usual places, including many open-air chop shops along the Willamette River and bike paths. There’s always a few in the Whiteaker, and along River Road and Highway 99.
The locations of these change pretty frequently but hit up the local Facebook and Reddit groups and ask around. You’ll get a list of known chop shops pretty quickly.
We’ve also seen thieves “stash” bikes in public bike racks. Thieves may lock stolen bikes up to public racks to sell later. Be sure to check out the bike racks you see while you’re out and about.
5. Watch for your bike being sold online
A huge amount of stolen bikes are fenced online. It’s not just Craigslist you have to deal with anymore. Now there’s many different sites and mobile apps you will need to watch:
- OfferUp - A chronically terrible service full of stolen bikes. This is the first place you should go to look for your stolen bike. Or stolen anything, for that matter.
- LetGo - Another app that is similar to OfferUp: same idea, same sleaze.
- Facebook Marketplace - Although not as popular with thieves yet, it is growing rapidly.
Make it a habit to check for your bike on these sites every day, for many weeks, even months. We’ve seen thieves steal bikes and stash them in storage for months to let them “cool off” before listing them for sale online. Be ready to play the “long game” if you’re serious about hunting down your stolen bike.
If you find your bike for sale on Craigslist, LetGo, OfferUp, or anywhere else, immediately contact the police. Don’t bother to contact the site’s useless customer service. The Eugene Police Department may arrange to make an undercover purchase from the seller, and may make an arrest. Never arrange to purchase your bike back because (1) criminals may be armed and may rob you of your cash and valuables or worse, and (2) it rewards bike theft. Never attempt to recover your bike on your own.
You can always send email to email@example.com if you need some tips for dealing with online sellers who may have your bike.
What can Bike Index do for your City, School, Police, or Group?
To find out how Bike Index can help your city, school, police, group, or any other organization, visit one of the following pages.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://bikeindex.org/news/what-to-do-when-your-bike-is-stolen-in-lane-county-coburg-cottage-grov?locale=en