October 21, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Bike Theft on the Rise in Venice

Registering your bike online may help you reclaim your ride.

By Sam Catanzaro

The fear of returning to find their bike stolen is something cyclists in Los Angeles live with every day. Nowhere is this anxiety more warranted than Venice Beach, which has one of the highest rates of bike theft in the city. In order to understand why, just think like a thief.

“If you were out to steal a bike you would want to do it where there were a lot of bikes, a lot of bikes to choose from and a lot of mistakes made. If you think about Venice Beach, that is an ideal location,” said J Allard, Founder and CEO of the online bike registry platform Project 529. “Think about grabbing a bike and you have three minutes to disappear. Well that’s a pretty choice place disappear. You just head towards Ocean Front Walk, grab an alley, and you are gone.”

According to the FBI, bike crime is increasing in Los Angeles and the rest of the U.S. as more and more people are using bikes to commute.

“People are riding bicycles a lot more often, and it’s due to a mixture of things but escalating gas prices is one of them,” said Bill Nesper, a spokesman for the League of American Bicyclists.

The City of Los Angeles currently does not have an effective system for cyclists to register their bikes or to report a stolen bicycle, making it difficult for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to combat bike theft. Detective Randy Goddard of the LAPD Pacific Division told Yo! Venice that very few stolen bikes get recovered in Venice, making bike theft a virtually consequence-free enterprise.

“The arrests we have made are because the bikes were extremely unique, extremely valuable and the victims had pictures and were very vigilant in giving us the information,” Detective Goddard said. “It is really hard to try to recover these bikes if you do not have that information.”

The information Goddard is referring to are things like the bike’s serial number, photos of the bike and of course who the owner is. There are several private platforms including Project 529 and the National Bike Registry and Bike Index that allow cyclists to register their bikes with this information. These services greatly increase the odds of a stolen bike getting recovered, and in a nod to their success, the City of Los Angeles recently made steps to develop a bicycle registration system of their own. On May 29 the City Council Public Safety Committee approved a motion that instructs the Department of Transportation (LADOT) and LAPD to develop recommendations for such a program.

A heat map of bike theft activity in Los Angeles showing that Venice is one the hotspots in the city. Photo: HotPads.

It is unclear whether Los Angeles will develop a platform of their own or partner with a private company. The Santa Monica Police Department has a partnership with Bike Index to help reunite owners with their bicycles. Project 529 works with 30 different cities and CEO J Allard told Yo! Venice that his platform would be perfect for an area like Venice, pointing to the example of Vancouver’s Granville Island.

“It is kind of like Venice Beach. Part local, part tourist, a great cycling destination, the number one hot spot for theft and we reduced bike theft there by over 65 percent,” Allard said. “We also worked with local businesses to do bike valets. Plus we did loaner locks so if you went to the pub for a pint and you and your friends were out riding around on road bikes in spandex and didn’t bring locks and you wanted to grab a pint and watch the sunset, you leave your ID and get a 150 dollar lock to borrow.”

Allard says that he has not been contacted by the City yet, but would be more than happy to work with appropriate personnel to develop a plan to create a successful registration system.

Whether this system will be voluntary or mandatory is still undetermined but some in the local bike community are wary of any type of forced registration. Up until 2009, there was a section of the Los Angeles Municipal Code that required cyclists to carry a bike license. This lead to the harassment of many people from low-income and minority communities on bikes by the police under the pretext of registration requirements.

“We believe that a mandatory program will lead to the same issues that occurred previously, and may cause more harm than good in low-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color. We know that the problem of biking while black or brown is real, and we do not want to further exacerbate this problem,” the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition said in a statement.

U-locks like the one pictured are more secure than cable locks, especially when secured around both the tire and frame. Photo: Sam Catanzaro.

John Brown, a local bike enthusiast, told Yo! Venice in an email that he would oppose a mandatory system and questions whether registration would even curtail bike theft.

“Generally speaking, bike licensing/registries have not served cyclists well in Los Angeles, as it has put law-abiding cyclists in the crosshairs of overzealous law enforcement while having zero effect on the level of bike theft and related crime,” Brown wrote. “Law abiding citizens would find themselves dealing with bureaucracy and citation, while those intent on breaking the laws would get away unpunished.”

Allard of Project 529 says that curtailing bicycle theft through a registration system is more dependent on the biking community coming together to fix the problem rather than city officials stopping bike theft with policy.

“You can be super successful working with the bike industry and letting them be part of the solution rather than having it just be a government thing,” Allard explained. “It’s a community problem and the only way you can solve a community problem is with community effort.”

As to how the Venice community is going to stop bike thieves? Simply be smarter than them, says Allard.

“The bad guys are better organized than the good guys and the antidote is relatively simple, you make the good guys better organized than the bad guys.”

Related Posts

L.A. County COVID-19 Cases Partly Driven Teenagers

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

68 percent of new cases among people between ages of 12 and 50 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health...

Free Flu Shots at Palms Middle School for Students and Family

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

Los Angeles Unified and Health Net offering free vaccinations for seasonal flu to students and families By Chad Winthrop Los...

Mark Twain Middle School Community Raising Money to Restore Mural

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Colorful mosaic mural in front of school in need of repair By Sam Catanzaro Mark Twain Middle School community members...

Intravenous Vitamin Therapy: A Natural, Effective Solution for the Flu

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

By Dr. Mahboubeh Hashemi, ND and Dr. Matthew Cavaiola, ND  As fall and winter are fast approaching, many people, and...

Three-Story Apartment Building Planned Near Venice Canals

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

1940s triplex could be replaced by co-living facility By Toi Creel Plans are in the works to demolish a 1940s...

Edify TV: Deal to House Homeless People Near Freeways

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

After months of negotiations, the City and County of LA reached a $300 million deal to house thousands of homeless...

LADOT Resumes Parking Enforcement

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Parking Enforcement and Traffic Control (PETC) has resumed parking enforcement. Find out what...

Armed Suspect Attempting to Rob Several Local Victims

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

LAPD issue alert regarding series of Westside robberies Los Angeles Police Department detectives have recognized a pattern of robberies on...

Italian Restaurant Opens in Venice’s Former Chaya Space

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Italian restaurant Forma expands into Venice By Kerry Slater A popular Santa Monica Italian restaurant has moved into space formerly...

Edify TV: Penmar Golf Homeless Encampment Update

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

The City of Los Angeles has taken new action in an effort to deal with a homeless encampment along Penmar...

Michelin Pauses 2020 California Guide

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Restaurant guide says COVID-19 and wildfires forced decision By Kerry Slater The Michelin Guide has paused the announcement of stars...

Venice Under Heat Advisory

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

Heat advisory in effect until 5 p.m. Friday By Sam Catanzaro The National Weather Service (NWS) has declared a heat...

UCLA to Administer Faster, Cheaper Coronavirus Testing

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

SwabSeq testing platform to be rolled out after FDA approval Scientists at UCLA Health will soon be using a new...

Free School Supplies and Hygiene Products Wanted by Venice Family Clinic

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

Clinic celebrating 50 year anniversary by asking the community to participate in volunteer opportunities By Kerry Slater As part of...

Homeless Encampment Fires Up 82%: YO! Venice Show – October, 12, 2020

October 12, 2020

October 12, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Homeless Encampment Fires Up 82% * Santa Monica Pier Turns Purple...