Monday, May 20th, 2019

Case of the mysterious bikes

Officials stumped by lack of reports

By William Kincaid

The Celina Police Department is preparing to auction off bicycles that where fou. . .

CELINA - Each year, scores of bicycles are abandoned on residential properties, dumped into Grand Lake and found in other places in Celina.
Yet the Celina Police Department fields scant reports of missing or stolen bicycles and reunites only one or two of the bicycles with their owners each year, if that.
"But even then we have very few people that even call in that they're missing a bike," city safety service director Tom Hitchcock said.
Rather, the city keeps the orphaned bicycles in impound for a year before selling them at an annual auction in the summer.
The whole situation leaves Hitchcock scratching his head.
"I don't know how we get so many bikes but yet no one ever claims any of them," Hitchcock said.
"My parents wouldn't have went out and bought me a new bike (after losing one)," assistant police chief Dan Harting added, laughing.
The two men have no idea why so many bikes pile up in impound yet go unclaimed.
"The average is probably 60 to 80 bikes a year that we auction," Harting said, noting some go for essentially a few bucks or less while a few premium models fetch $50, all of which goes back into the city's general fund. "Some of them are found in a lake or a pond and usually if they're in there, they're pretty bad when we get them out."
Police officers currently have about 80 bikes in storage. They'll be sold off in the coming weeks once officials schedule the summer auction.
Most of the the bikes are found in backyards or near the front of homes, Harting said. Owners report the bikes to the police department, which then dispatches an officer to pick them up.
Those who lose a bicycle need to fill out a police report before officers can help them, Harting said.
"In the last 12 months I think we found 11 people that reported bikes stolen," Harting said.
"But it was none of the bikes we had," Hitchcock added. "We haven't had a single one of these bikes claimed."
People are asked to describe the missing bicycle in question to police officers.
"Once they report it we check our inventory to see if anything we've recovered matches," Harting said.
Of the 60 to 80 bikes rounded up each year, most are children's models, but a handful are high-end.
Asked who's behind the littering of bicycles throughout the city, Harting said it may be a mix of kids and petty criminals, as well as intoxicated people who late at night decide to take someone's bicycle rather than walk.
"I think a lot of them are kids because we see a lot of (bikes) that are painted and parts missing and added," Harting said.
Reflecting on their younger days, both Harting and Hitchcock said they cherished their bikes and would have been upset had they been stolen.
"Like for us, it was like one of the best gifts you ever had as a kid," Hitchcock said.
"It's a throwaway society, though," Harting said.
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