Keep track of your bikes
By Tom Vonhof, Lakeville Chief of Police
One thing that I found surprising when I became a police officer is how many bicycles we would find abandoned or dumped on the side of the roadway each year.
Some would be in dilapidated condition with missing wheels, but a few of them would be almost brand new and in great condition. The challenge in finding the owners for these bicycles would be that many people would not report their bicycle missing if it was stolen, so we would have no record of the bicycle; and of those people that would report their bicycle stolen, very few would have the serial number for the bicycle.
The problem that we frequently encounter with recovered bicycles is that even though every bicycle manufactured has a unique serial number on it, very few people would record that serial number when they purchased their bike. Without a serial number, it is very difficult to return a recovered bike to the owner because there is no way to prove ownership.
As a result, every year we end up with a large number of recovered unclaimed bicycles and every year we hold a bicycle auction. Our Evidence Technician, Lori Clemmer, is responsible for organizing the auction. Prior to the auction, Clemmer goes through all of the stolen and lost bicycle police reports and attempts to match up the bikes to a potential owner. Before the most recent bicycle auction, Clemmer was able to return two of the bicycles to the owners and in one case the owner was able to identify the bike by unlocking the combination lock on the cable lock around the bike seat.
This year’s bicycle auction was held on the lawn of the Water Treatment Facility last Thursday night and was very well attended. LPD Police Reserve Officers Sue Tvedt, Justin Engle and Stacey Hanson assisted Clemmer in moving the bikes and displaying them during the auction.
One thing we would like to see is for everyone to take a few moments to record the serial number for your bicycle on your sales receipt or bike manual and to keep it in a safe place. That would greatly increase our ability to recover the bike if it is stolen and return it to the owner.
This column originally appeared in the Lakeville Police Department’s Breezes newsletter.