HOUSTON – It’s the summertime and the kids are out of school. While it’s a little warm outside, this is still the season for bike riding.
But Houston has a problem when it comes to bicycles, and the problem with bicycles is that they keep disappearing.
Whether you ride a bike for fun or rely on your bike to get to work, thieves are coming after our bikes.
KPRC 2 Investigates breaks down where it’s happening most often, one man’s who making a difference, and something you haven’t thought of when it comes to protecting your own bike.
WHERE IT’S HAPPENING
There is no centralized database for bike thefts. It’s hard to get a perfect scope, but we combed through stolen bicycle reports from several online registries, social media sites, and even emails into our newsroom.
We created our own interactive database and found that since January 2020, the hardest hit areas for bike thefts are central Houston and the Texas Medical Center. Click on the map above. You can zoom-in, zoom-out and pan-around. Each red bike indicates a report of a stolen bike with the date and time.
Has your bike been stolen? Add it to our database here:
SOUND UP! CAUGHT ON CAMERA - BIKE SHOP THEFT
Thieves raided a family-owned Heights’ Blue Line Bike Lab in December 2020. It was caught on video.
“We’ve been broken into three times in the last 18 months,” said Fred Zapalac, owner of Blue Line Bike Lab.
But, even children are becoming victims.
“This bike is really more important than anything I have,” said Gage Dukat, a Katy-area teenager.
Gage’s dad, Scott, died of liver failure a few years ago, and he gave Gage the bike.
Then, it was stolen. But Gage’s mom worked to track down the bike by posting the missing bike information online.
She posted it to a Facebook group, “Stolen Bike Search Houston.” The Facebook group has helped hundreds of people recover their bikes, including the bike Gage’s dad gave to him. It was recovered by Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Corporal Joe Bowden.
“Maybe three days or so later, we got word from officer Joe Bowden,” said Gage.
SHERLOCK HOLMES OF BICYCLE THEFT CASES
“I know where to look and how to look,” said Bowden
Bowden has an incredible knack for tracking down stolen bikes in Houston, he estimates he’s found hundreds.
We went along with Bowden to see his detective work firsthand.
We watched as Bowden recovered two bikes in just a few hours.
THE BIG SECRET TO BIKE THEFTS
While he won’t reveal his secret, Bowden has one for you. Your car turns out to be a weak point, according to Bowen. He said thieves are actually breaking into cars to steal garage clickers just to steal bikes.
“What should we be doing as bicycle owners?” asked KPRC 2 Investigator Joel Eisenbaum.
“Well, one of the big problems we’re seeing lately is people are leaving their car remotes in their car. They’re breaking into the car, breaking into the garage and stealing the bicycles,” said Bowden.
Bowden said you should chain your bike by the frame in your garage if you’re serious about keeping it.
WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOUR BIKE IS STOLEN
- 1. File a police report.
- 2. File a report with your home or apartment insurance company.