Bryan Raiser - Cynical Sunshine
I'm a lover, not a fighter. When given the opportunity, I'd much rather talk a problem out rather than resort to violence.
However even I must admit a bloodthirsty unquenchable thirst for ultra-violent torture when it comes to bike thieves - an attitude shared by many who have found themselves with nothing but that horribly classic phrase "I turned my back for a second"
Far too many people know the heartbreak of that moment when you realize your prized possession is gone. Hence the collective anger and sadness when hearing a story like the special needs boy whose bike was stolen in a letter in last week's Chief. The link between a child and a bike is one we all can appreciate and the sickening feeling in our stomach is something we unfortunately share.
I believe this problem is a matter of optics. To many, stealing a bike is so common it isn't considered a crime. It's like stealing an extra paper from the machine or drinking and driving in Maui. The police simply don't have time to care with literally hundreds of bike thefts in the corridor every month. What's not taken into consideration is the fact that a bike isn't just any old possession, it's a best friend. It's like stealing someone's fishing rod, climbing gear, or even golf clubs. Its one of those possessions we all use to make life worth living. It's not stealing, it's kidnapping.
Insurance? Ha! If you're lucky insurance will cover up to $500. That's barely a set of brakes. Sure, you can get extra coverage, but that's ridiculously expensive leaving few families able to pay upwards of $800 a year just to insure bikes.
So what then, vigilante justice? That won't work. Most bikes are traded for drugs within the hour - whether that drug is alcohol, meth, groceries or gasoline. Beating up an opportunistic addict won't change the fact that bikes are big easy money. Public humiliation? Getting a bike thief's picture and plastering an alert all over town sounds like a good idea.
Perhaps a whistle blower reward? You have to figure that someone desperate enough to steal a child's bike probably has dealings with someone desperate enough to turn him in for a reward. Start a campaign to rat the bastards out with cash for every bike thief turned in that leads to a conviction.
Sadly, people only steal what they know they can sell and we can only stop theft if we collectively stop buying stolen goods. Realistically, that will never happen. As a society we have sheepishly learned to accept the fact that the only way to get a deal in this life is if someone gets hurt. From buying goods that fell off the back of a truck, to sweatshop brand name clothes, we've perfected the art of turning a blind eye for a bargain.
The only thing you can really do is protect yourself with mom's sage advice: "Lock it up and don't leave it out of your sight for a second."