AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than two bikes have been reported stolen per day this year in Austin, according to Austin Police Department numbers we analyzed.
It averages out to less than last year so far, when there were more than 1,000 bike thefts reported to APD. Still, experts said these thefts have spiked since the start of the pandemic.
“So many people have been hit, and so many people have been robbed,” said Bryan Hance, cofounder of Bikeindex.org.
The nonprofit shares individual bike data with registered partners around the country that include bike shops and police departments. The site also allows people to register their bike for free and flag it as stolen if they become a victim.
Peggy Ellis turned to Facebook groups when her son’s silver Sunday BMX bike was stolen over the weekend. Home surveillance video shows a man walking up her driveway and taking the bike in less than 30 seconds.
“It’s more violating whenever you know they could not see the bike from the street,” she said.
For her son, Gunnar, the bike had a lot of sentimental value.
“It’s kind of a shame, because it was the first one that I learned on,” he said. “[There were] so many memories on it, so many places I’ve traveled with it.”
Clearance rates for bicycle theft remain consistently low, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. As we dug through spreadsheets of cases reported to Austin Police, we found APD made arrests in just 13 of the cases.
“A lot of police departments just pulled back from those smaller type of crimes,” said Hance.
That’s why Hance told us cyclists are turning to Facebook and other platforms, where he said membership in stolen bike groups has also spiked. He said these communication networks are born out of necessity, with thieves acting fast.
“They can have them for sale on an app like OfferUp, and they can have it sold in 30 minutes,” said Hance. “I can’t make a police report in that amount of time.”