Talent police report rash of bicycle thefts

Talent police have seen a surge in bicycle thefts over the past six months, with about 30 bikes reported stolen during that time and only three of them being recovered.

The thefts are not confined to any certain area, but have occurred all over town.

"We're seeing more and more of them," said Talent Police Chief Mike Moran.

A tandem bike reported stolen Jan. 5 from the front porch of a house was one of those recovered. A citizen's tip led to the arrest of a suspect.

Stephanie Shaw, 32, was lodged in Jackson County Jail on Jan. 12 on felony charges of theft in the first degree and theft in the first degree by receiving related to tandem's disappearance. Shaw was a former Talent resident, said Moran.

A citizen called police to report that a tandem bike being offered for $250 on Craigslist looked like too good of a deal. The stolen tandem had a value of $1,250.

Police were able to locate the bike at a pawn shop. A friend of Shaw's had pawned the bike for her, said Moran.

"As part of our rash of bike thefts, we have been trying to keep a good eye on pawn shops," said Moran.

Talent police subscribe to an Internet service that allows them to survey the offerings at pawn shops in Oregon and neighboring states. Officers use the service regularly to attempt to locate stolen goods, said Moran.

With many bikes selling for more than $1,000, stealing one can result in first degree felony theft charges.

"Our surge in bike thefts, I think, matches those in other cities," said Moran.

In August, Medford police reported a spike in bike thefts.

Moran has several tips to help prevent theft, including registering bikes for free with the department, locking them up or putting them away in a secure place.

While bolt cutters have been used to steal some bikes, locks are still a good measure, says the chief.

"Even though some locks have been compromised by criminals, the majority of criminals who will grab a bike are going to take the path of least resistance," said Moran.

Locking bikes in garages and sheds also cuts thefts.

"One of the biggest things I've come across is people say, 'This is Talent. I shouldn't have to lock things up,' " said Moran. "A lot (of bikes) are left on porches or in open garages."

Talent police now have 15 bikes in storage. Whether they were abandoned or stolen is unknown. Taking advantage of the city's free registration program might get bikes back to owners and help solve thefts, Moran said.

Police record the bike's serial number and other information and affix a sticker with a registration number. The information is recorded on a computer.

Moran also recommends owners take pictures of their bikes to help with identification.

"To a little kid, their new bike is worth a thousand dollars to them," said Moran. "It's nice to be able to recover them."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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