Over the course of a typical year, the value of all the bikes stolen across the US totals about $350 Million. That’s a lot of bikes but one has to ask where do they go and who is doing all of this stealin’?
So once a bike has been stolen (hopefully not yours), what happens to it? Well, it all depends on the level of sophistication and professionalism of the thief or thieves. The most amateur ones, which might be homeless or drug addicts looking for a few bucks for their next meal or hit, will sell bikes for a small faction of what they are worth. They’ll sell it on the street, or exchange it directly for what they need, or fence it at a pawn shop or maybe a flea market or whatever.
More professional thieves want to get better prices, and they have more bikes to sell, so they can’t use the same strategy. They target more expensive bikes and will often try to resell them online to get a better price. They usually will go sell bikes where there’s a bigger market for them, so they might sell a bike from San Fancisco in Los Angeles.
The basic premise is that it is such a low value crime, most of the time the perp is not a priority for the Police. One video from the NY Times in the original article demonstrates this as a NYT reporter stages several bike thefts where close to 100 witnesses walk by him “in the act” yet no one stops to ask what he is doing.
The net takeaway is probably targeted towards city Mayors and Police Cheifs to have the Police pay more attention to these sorts of crimes, the way Rudy Gulliani did in the early 1990′s in NYC. Reduce these “petty” crimes and the “bigger” crimes will also fall.