FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Anonymous Cop

Anonymous Cop

Anonymous Cop is a veteran police officer in a big city Midwestern police department.

Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.

The Bicycle Thief

Dealing with Illegal "Pedalers."

January 10, 2008  |  by - Also by this author

I'm not talking Vittorio De Sica's 1948 titular classic (it's an art film for those of you who find Dennis Miller's cultural allusions similarly challenging). I'm talking the whole panorama of dirtbags on dirtbikes...and mountain bikes...and so on.

Sometimes, it's a byproduct of criminal happenstance: When a guy has his driver's license suspended, he has to get around somehow. This reality is true for the probationer and parolee alike.

Other times, the conveyance is a conscious concession to a modus operandi. While not capable of exceeding the speed of the average Vega, bicycles allow their riders greater mobility and accessibility. This, in turn, means that they can be used to exploit the limitations of other conveyances like, say, your patrol car.

Unlike vehicles, bicycles can be readily abandoned, generally without fear of exorbitant cost or being traced back to a suspect's address by some database inquiry.

Suspects can ride past the front of locations, scouting for residents tending their yards, then swing around to the rear alley to attempt a break-in from the rear of the location. Bike trails make it easy for sexual predators and purse thieves to find unwitting victims.

Not only are bicycles suspect-friendly, they can be officer-deadly.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Hoenig was on traffic patrol in the early morning hours in Lynwood, Calif., when he followed a suspect on bicycle into neighboring South Gate. He stopped the suspect in front of a driveway, at which point the suspect fired a shot through the rear passenger window. The suspect then approached the rear of the patrol car where he fired at least six more shots. Hoenig was wearing a ballistic vest, but was struck several times in the upper body, sustaining a fatal neck wound.

Fortunately, some of these hustlers on Huffys give telltale clues to their criminal activities. You spot a cyclist encumbered with trash bags and pillow cases. Do you think he might be a burglar? You detain and search a rider who has more coins on his person than a Vegas slot machine primed for payoff. Have there been a series of vending machine break-ins nearby? You see a guy on two wheels almost take a face plant into the side mirror of a parked truck. More than one suspect has sustained injuries because they were more concerned about keeping an eye on the cop than on where they were going.

Another plus is that bicyclists are often subject to the same vehicle code laws as their engine-driven rivals. This means rules of the road and maintenance matters (e.g., lights) offer all manner of probable cause to find out what they're up to.

On one of the innumerable property alarm calls I rolled on as a patrol deputy, I drove onto a cul-de-sac and saw a young man riding a bicycle. As it was a Saturday afternoon and the man had just ridden out of a closed business district and off the street where the alarm was activated, I detained him. While he did not have anything of particular value on him, I nonetheless transported him to the alarm call where I found a window smash break-in.

I had the bicyclist standby while I waited for the business owner to respond. When he arrived, he said he could only find one thing missing.

A bicycle.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

ronavallone2 @ 3/30/2008 2:38 PM

That was FUNNY! More than a thousand times Iv'e seen others hurt themselves while watching me instead of themself. BRILLIANT!

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

SHOT Show 2015: Days 1 and 2 on the Floor
It doesn’t seem to be a “year of the gun” but more of a “year of the gun stuff,” as many...
SHOT Show 2015: Report from Industry Day at the Range
The biggest challenge for me was to narrow down those firearms and products that are...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Zip Code:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine