Hundreds of San Francisco bicyclists report the theft of their two-wheelers annually, and victims include city supervisors who are now looking to curtail the rising crime.
Thieves appear to be doing anything they can to score a bike — cutting locks and riding off within minutes, peering through mail slots of old Victorian homes and busting in if bikes are spotted, and sneaking into garages when the doors open to make away with stored bikes.
There are even organized bike theft rings, and the stolen bicycles, or their parts, are sold at flea markets, online or on the street.
Supervisor Eric Mar is taking the lead on an effort to reduce bike thefts, which he estimated at 3,000 a year. Mar, who is working with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, has called for a hearing on bike thefts and requested a city report on the best ways to prevent and solve them.
Mar said he wants the Police Department to improve enforcement.
The increasing number of thefts coincides with a growing number of cyclists riding more valuable bikes, which can easily reach several thousands of dollars in value.
The issue is clearly on the minds of San Francisco residents. Police Officer Carlos Manfredi said a recent workshop on bike theft held at Google’s offices in The City had more than 200 attendees.
Manfredi said that 600 to 800 bike thefts are reported each year, with the largest number in the Mission and South of Market neighborhoods.
Police make it a priority to investigate reported thefts of more expensive bicycles, Manfredi said.
“We take this seriously,” he said. “It’s an epidemic.”
For Mar, bike theft is personal.
“I’ve had two bicycles stolen out from my garage in my building over the past couple of years,” Mar lamented during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Board President David Chiu also has been a victim.
“I have had four bikes stolen for the last 17 years,” Chiu said. “That is the reason why I do not spend very much on buying new bicycles.”
The hearing is expected to occur in the coming months.