Deborah asked: Two weeks ago someone stole my bicycle from my porch in Seminole Heights. I cannot report it missing because I cannot even prove that the bike is mine because I bought it used off of Craig’s list. I did not take down any serial numbers. I have a photo of the bike–it is a three speed Next bike called a Monerey. I believe it is possible the police could have confiscated the bike from a ditch or something. Where and how can I find out if police have it or not? I did not file a police report.
The purpose of this site is to discuss the laws related to bicycling, but we will make an exception in this case to make the point that we should all do everything we can to prevent bike theft.
Needless to say, locking a bike is the first deterrent. Many stolen bikes are the result of a crime of opportunity and if a lock is present, even a very inexpensive one, the thief may move on. Having a full identity is important for possible recovery. Most bikes have a serial number stamped below the bottom bracket (Under the pedals).
Don’t assume that since you don’t have a serial number, that you can’t file a report. You should do so if for no other reason than to alert the police to a location of bike theft. There may be others in that area.
You may be able to make a claim with the identifying information you do have. The police normally hold unclaimed bikes for a period, then auction them or give them away. Check with your local police and file a claim. Ask them if you can check their unclaimed bikes to see if yours is there. You may be able to claim it based on the picture and other identifying information. They will probably be happy to return it to the owner if it is in their custody.