'Stolen, Abandoned, & Abused'

This bicycle was found on display at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Napa on June 26. The sign below it read: 'Stolen, Abandoned, & Abused - Help me find my owner! Call: Napa PD  257-9223." The bike was later booked into the police department as "found property."

Two years ago, Napa residents experienced a rash of bicycle thefts – thefts from outside of schools, business and even backyards. But, for unknown reasons, since then, the number of reported bike thefts has decreased significantly.

Between 2016 and 2017, about 140 bikes had been reported stolen, Napa Police Lt. Chase Haag said last week. Between 2017 and 2018, about 71 bikes had been reported stolen.

Bicycle thefts are more common in the city of Napa than in other parts of the county, statistics show. In two years, the Napa County Sheriff’s Office has had seven bikes reported stolen, nearly half of which occurred by county buildings in downtown Napa, Capt. Jon Crawford said recently.

The Napa County District Attorney Office does file charges for bicycle thefts, but the cases don’t come too often, maybe a few times a month, Assistant District Attorney Paul Gero said.

Patrick Band, executive director of the Napa County Bicycle Coalition, said that bicycle thefts seem to be opportunistic crimes. During the rash of thefts in 2016, Band recommended that bikes be locked to solid objects like a rack, sign post or mature tree in busy, highly visible areas.

He also said that cable locks are basically “useless” against thieves who may be carrying heavy-duty bolt cutters or battery- powered grinders. Instead, he said, opt for U-style or chain locks.

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Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.