FYI - These articles appeared in yesterdays (6/23/08) Boston Herald.
Boston bike thieves in high gear
Monday, June 23, 2008
Mayor Thomas M. Menino boasts Boston is a bike-friendly city, but hundreds of riders have lost their two-wheelers to Hub hoodlums, with Fenway and Back Bay the worst neighborhoods for cycle thefts.
More than 550 people had their bikes swiped in Boston last year, a 5 percent spike over the previous year.
"It happens at least once a day," said Jamaica Plain bicycle shop worker Darrah Bowden, 25. "They come in here with their long faces, and you know they’ve had their bike stolen."
Menino, who recently discovered his own zeal for bicycling, is vowing to reverse the image of Boston as inhospitable for pedaling. He has pledged to install 750 bike racks in three years and launch the Hub’s first designated lanes for bicycles, starting along Commonwealth Avenue at Boston University.
He’s even hired former Olympic cyclist Nicole Freedman to oversee this renaissance.
But last year alone, 558 bikes were reported stolen to Boston police, up from 530 the year before. Summer is prime bike-snatching season, and 108 were stolen in July alone.
The Back Bay and Fenway neighborhoods have it the worst. BPD District D-4 recorded 205 thefts - more than double the number of any other district.
The problem shows no signs of abating this year, with 113 recorded bike heists by the end of May.
Among the victims was John Werner, 38, who works for a downtown non-profit.
"I was one of that 1 percent who bikes to work every single day," Werner said, baffled by how someone was able to pry off his heavy-duty lock.
"I don’t have the cash flow right now to replace it," he said. "I was really bummed."
Evidence of bike theft is hard to miss. The carcasses of bikes lay strewn on the streets throughout the city, useless bodies still locked to meters and racks. Dozens of "missing bike" placards can be seen tacked to bulletin boards and street posts.
Bicycle enthusiast Mike McGreens, 32, left his prized $550 Bianchi Pista outside only once last year, locking it to a fence one lazy August evening.
"I paid the price," he said. By 9 a.m., it was gone.
For every purportedly theft-proof lock, someone invents a way to saw it off. The pickings are so easy that one bike shop worker described learning of one little punk who lifted a bike for a ride home - only to promptly dispose of it the very same day.
What’s more, there’s a growing market for bikes, stolen or not, as fuel prices soar to wallet-draining highs. The thieves either hawk the bikes as "used" in online ads or peddle the goods directly to Hub shops.
Perhaps more people should respond like Paul Sager, owner of Bicycle Bill’s in Allston.