The game of losing and recovering bicycles | Crime
Anyone seen a Trek Madone 5.2? It’s a mid-range racing bicycle meant to hit the pavement for the Tour de France with space-age technology. That’s the way Eric Abbott, 47, described his bicycle that was stolen from his South Hill home in late July. In between racing near Riverside State Park and packing up his family’s home for a move across the state, it was plucked away from the garage.
“I walked into the garage, turned around - something felt strange like the hair was standing up on the back of my neck,” Abbot described. He asked himself, “Where’s my bike?”
It’s a common woe to hear in Spokane following the theft of property. Abbott followed the proper routine of filing a police report, insurance claims, calling major bike shops and starting his online patrol of Craigslist and eBay. He hopes to have it returned, but that possibility looks slim.
Some bicycles in Spokane find their way home when they’re picked up by law enforcement or good samaritans and taken to the property facility in east Spokane. Evidence for vehicle accidents, burglaries, homicides and even recovered bicycles are kept at the 4010 E. Alki warehouse. There, a sea of over 200 bicycles cling together for safekeeping.
Evidence facility supervisor Shannon Hallam says when bicycles are brought in, they take note of the serial number to see if they match the description of any bicycles reported stolen. They’re held for 60 days and unless they have been claimed, they’re auctioned.
“We definitely auction and destroy more bikes than we get back. Most people don’t write down their serial numbers because they think it’s not that big of a deal. Well, it isn’t until it’s gone,” Hallam said.
The quality of found bicycles range from specialized to low end. If they’re not connected to a crime or accident, they’re auctioned off. Some of them come from various Spokane COPS venues across the city and some originate from Spokane Transit Authority when commuters forget about their bicycle on the front end of the bus.
Every six to seven weeks, Hallam says they pull about 40 to 60 bicycles to go to auction.
“We’re able to auction them if they’re considered abandoned. Under RCW, we have to hold them for 60 days in case an owner comes by with a serial number. That’s why it’s a good thing to write down the serial number,” Hallam added.
Even when that serial number is documented, it doesn’t guarantee the return of the bicycle. If it’s never recovered, it could be anywhere, stripped for parts or sold for quick cash in its entirety.
“Bottom line, I don’t expect it back. I’ve tried to put that aside and focus on what I need to do for the race season and the upcoming off-season for training,” Abbott said.
Whoever stole Abbot’s bike knew to look past the two commuter bicycles also stored in the garage.
“Most likely - they will try to sell it for a quick buck. That’s today’s reality. I think people, maybe those who would choose not to abide by the law, are opportunists in general. So they saw an opportunity, came in for 30 seconds and left,” Abbott added.
Even if Abbott’s bike is never recovered, other bikes are continuously found in Spokane County and turned into the property facility. Without filing a police report with a serial number, property crews would never know who a bike belongs to.
After 60 days, off it goes to Reinland Auction Company, located in Post Falls. The next auction is August 25 at 9 a.m. For more information on the auction, you can visit their website: reilandauctions.net.