Yesterday on Twitter, @SFPDBikeTheft, the noted Twitter account that helps inform SFPD about bike thefts in progress, had a bit of a run-in with local cyclists accusing SFPD of not taking bike thievery seriously. After a "run-of-the-mill breaking and entering" occurred on Thursday inside the residence of Uptown Almanac's Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) — wherein he accuses SFPD of not taking the crime seriously enough — the local blogger/cyclist took to the streets to publish pictures of alleged chop shops operating in public.
"It wasn't until SFPD made my house wait 3 hours to file a report, only for the police to never show up, that I started calling them out on Twitter," Montgomery tells SFist. "Honestly, I was more pissed than anything else. We had $10,000 worth of stuff (mostly bicycles) stolen from our building, yet the cops couldn't care less. I understand the police have to prioritize calls, and yesterday was an hectic day in the neighborhood (from a crime perspective, at least), but...the bike theft problem is only getting worse; and what feels like an excessive crackdown on cyclists committing minor traffic offenses, there's a growing sense that SFPD doesn't really care about cyclists. My experience yesterday all but confirmed that in my view."
In part, here's the Twitter exchange Montgomery had with @SFPDBikeTheft:
.@SFPDBikeTheft Claims to want victims of bike theft to report the crimes, yet SFPD shrugs and tells me it'll take 3 hours to file report.— Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) January 16, 2014
@kevinmonty if dispatch told you it would take 3 hours for a unit,then sorry for the wait but priority calls come first patience wins out— SFPD Anti Bike Theft (@SFPDBikeTheft) January 16, 2014
And now, the chop shop hunt begins (we should point out that all of these are unconfirmed):
Meanwhile, blocks away, four thieves are openly chopping up ~50 bikes and caring for 2 stolen dogs pic.twitter.com/1kzgygAlKS— Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) January 16, 2014
Also of note, @tollef captured this alleged chop shop scene at 13th and South Van Ness Thursday morning:
@tollef Seriously. It crushes me that thieves chop these bike up in public day after day, yet no shortage of officers ticketing cyclists.— Kevin Montgomery (@kevinmonty) January 17, 2014
According to an @SFPDBikeTheft tweet, the public should pressure the DA in order to prioritize property crime:
And then it all more or less goes downhill from there, with a minor dust-up including @linecook (noted local chef and cyclist) and a slew of other cyclists joining in the heated conversation:
We've asked SFPDBikeTheft for comment. We'll update as soon as we know more. Also, to report an alleged chop shop, please call 415-553-0123.
UPDATE: Officer Matt Friedman (who runs the handy @SFPDBikeTheft account) talked to SFist more about the alleged chop shops, saying, "Do they break up bikes there a nights? Probably. The one at 13th and Van Ness in particular, I've been out to that location several times to make arrests regarding bike theft. It's a homeless encampment — guys out there with criminal records."
Friedman also tells us that in order for SFPD to help return stolen bikes or make arrests, incidents need to be reported. He explains: "As for the bikes, we run serial numbers all the time, but if they don't come up and aren't reported, there's not much we can do. We actively try to follow up on complaints. The best way for a unit to come out is to call the non-emergency number."
However, you can call 911 in cases of bike robberies in progress and more. "If you see someone shaving off a serial number, that's a 911 call. That's a felony. Anything above $1,000 is a felony."
And finally, as to why it took so long for SFPD to help Montgomery, Frieman tells us there could be several reasons. "I don't know why it took so long," he says. "I know it's a high priority for him, but the Mission is a busy district. If you feel like you're not getting the service you requested, you should call back. I know it's frustrating, but it helps. We don't have as many units as we once did."