Hi friends, Phoebe here. My bike was stolen from where it was locked up at 4th and Main last weekend. As a Downtowner, I wasn’t surprised; stolen/traded bikes and parts serve as an important form of currency in Skid Row. Many of these bikes end up in gnarly encampments packed with frames, wheels and miscellaneous parts. Upon arriving at one such encampment at 9th and Towne to look for my bike, I ran into some cops who encouraged me to file a police report. Wanting a more immediate, DIY solution, I checked a couple other Fashion District encampments, but to no avail. Continuing through the heart of Skid Row, I drove slowly down side streets for about 15 minutes until I spotted her on San Pedro: my rust-colored, built-from-parts, mixte frame beauty adorned with 2 recognizable stickers. I pulled over to confront the man next to my bike, who wanted $20 since he said he paid that for it. I declined to pay and after a little back-and-forth, and some backup from other people on the street, I safely returned the bike to my car. A Downtown fairy tale, it has been called! But here is what you can do to help ensure your bike isn’t stolen from you forever:
1. Take a picture of your bike right now! Also, put a sticker on it that differentiates it from other bikes like it. These will help you in recovering your bike, whether you go the police-aided or guerrilla rescue route.
2. Go look for your bike when it’s stolen! Don’t give in and buy a new one until you’ve taken a walk or drive through Skid Row. My bike was out in broad daylight a few blocks from where it was stolen. All it took to get it back was a little persistence and firm conversation.
Riding a bike in Los Angeles can represent a source of freedom, divestment from car culture, a way to exercise, and an alternative to insanely high car-related costs. Stealing someone’s bike can take away their ability to live the way they want and/or need to live in addition to taking a material possession they’ve likely invested a lot of time, labor and love into. Don’t be scared to find your bike and put an end to the acceptance of bike theft!