I was recently in Costa Rica. We were warned when travelling throughout the country, especially at night, to be careful since there are a lot of muggings and murders.
At night in town I saw prostitutes, drug dealers, etc. To my surprise I also saw tons of unlocked bikes around town.
Made me think, why is bike thief so rampant here in Chicago? The answers came quickly to me.
1) There is a market in Chicago for stolen bikes that isn't in Costa Rica. Stolen bikes can be sold for a decent amount of money here.
2) There are virtually no repercussions for stealing a bike. Why doesn't the city and/or state create laws to scare people away of stealing bikes?
I wonder if we would have the same problem if stealing a bike came with a $3000 fine & 6 months jail time for the first offense?
I had my bike stolen last year, and the guys reselling the bike at the Swap O Rama didn't even get a slap when the cops "asked" for my bike back. I asked why they didn't arrest them, and their answer was "we didn't catch them stealing the bike so we can't do anything about it."
So here is my question - Why doesn't Chicago beef up its laws on stealing a bike? For sure we could use the money.
The politicians are too worried about banning certain folk from marrying each other, or banning certain herbs and common chemicals.
Heck, it's hard enough to get someone who runs over a bicyclist and kills them to pay a fine -much less go to jail. Just stealing a bike doesn't even register on the "we don't give a hoot about you" meter.
David, I think you're correct. People rarely do the right things simply because a law will punish doing the wrong things. People have to "feel" right and wrong deep inside. Where is that "still small voice", the uneasy knowledge that somethings (like stealing bikes) are just wrong?
Thanks, that makes sense.
I'd add, though, that bike theft isn't exactly an outlier here. The US has much higher crime rates than most places in the developed world for virtually any crime you can think of. Given that we also have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world (in fact, one of the highest in human history), I'm a little skeptical that yet another "let's get tough on crime" policy is really the answer.
Julie Hochstadter said:It seemed to be a country, like cities in Switzerland and other european cities, where bikes aren't locked up like they are here or NYC.
It was culture shock for me, and made me wonder, what, if anything could the city or state do to help deter bike theft.
Where did this perception come from that Chicago has more bike theft than cities in Switzerland? The Netherlands? Denmark? Bern (pop. 134,000), Amsterdam (pop. 767,000) and Copenhagen (pop. 1,153,000) all have significantly larger numbers of bike thefts than Chicago, which is estimated by CPD to be approximately 5000/year. Is Chicago's rate of theft higher? Maybe. They likely have more bikes than Chicago, but on a per capita basis, their theft rate is significantly higher.
I think they need to crack down harder on the pawn shops and 47th& Ashland flea vendors that fence the stolen bikes. You need a valid ID and they take a copy when you pawn the item but the property crime detectives have a insane amount of cases and this is low priority.
I've been in Nicaragua for the past month, where bicycles are the main form of private transport. People ride bicycles mainly for transportation and work (hauling wood, buckets full of various items, etc), and to a lesser extent recreation (usually kids). The reality is that most people don't invest in accessories such as lights and locks and therefore are way less likely to leave a bicycle unattended for an extended period of time, and thus lessening the risk of theft.