Arlington County bike thefts spike, regional effort launched

Here\'s a look at the number of bike thefts in Arlington County between June and August 2013. (Courtesy of Arlington County Police Department)

WASHINTON – A spike in bicycle thefts in Arlington County has led to a stepped-up regional effort to catch the crooks.

Police say the increase is not just kids stealing bikes in their neighborhoods, but sophisticated thieves who target communities that are bike friendly and seek out high-end bikes.

In Arlington County alone, 126 bikes worth a total of $98,127 were stolen between June 1 and Aug. 5 this year.

There have been 380 bicycle thefts so far this year compared to 233 during the same period last year.

Arlington Police Department Detective Tim Parsons says in most cases the bikes are being resold elsewhere.

“The majority of the people we have caught recently who, for the lack of a better description, have made a career — at least in the short term — of stealing high-end bikes,” says Parsons.

High-end bikes can cost between $800 and $8,000.

Because of the spike, Parsons says they are now coordinating their efforts to combat theft with other regional police departments.

The best way to protect your bike may be a U-Type steal lock, Parson says.

“They’re usually better able to protect your bike,” Parsons says.

Other tips to protect your bike:

  • Register it with the local police who will give you a sticker with a registration number that can act as a deterrent to thieves.
  • Take a photo and record the serial number.
  • Remove items like lights and bags when they are parked.
  • Report thefts to police and post the information on the Internet.

Also, Parsons suggests if you are buying a bike from anyone other than a bike shop, you should check the serial number with the local police to see if it has been stolen.

Local courts are not taking such thefts lightly. An Arlington County judge recently sentenced a man to serve eight years in prison for his role in a series of bike thefts.

This story was modified to reflect the suspect in the series of bike thefts was sentenced to 12 years with four years suspended.

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