Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Update: Divvy Bike Thefts Rage On — Four More Arrests As Ditched Divvies Are Found All Over Town

Andrew Coffey dug three stolen Divvy bikes out of the weeds under Brown Line tracks in Old Town last week. When he returned the next day, two bikes remained. The third had apparently been stolen. Again. | @CoffeyGrinds
It’s been quite a week since CWBChicago broke the news about a widespread theft problem that is affecting Chicago’s Divvy bike-sharing program. At least four more people were arrested in just three days last week for possessing stolen Divvy bikes in the Near North and Old Town neighborhoods.

On social media, people are finding Divvy bikes ditched all over town. On the roadside. On high-rise balconies. One man found three of the blue monsters tossed under the L tracks in Lincoln Park. All indications are that Divvy’s stolen bike problem is getting worse, not better.

Last week, Divvy cited a “recent series of thefts of bikes” from docking stations for a decision to install new “more tamper-proof lock mechanisms” systemwide. The statement followed an inquiry from CWBChicago about an apparent surge in thefts of the ubiquitous blue bikes.

The bikes are being stolen from docking stations across the city by thieves who have learned a simple way to compromise the locks that are supposed to keep the bicycles secured. Combined with the familiar tugging and pulling on bikes that thieves have been doing for years, Divvy now has a real problem on its hands with locks that are being actively and intentionally defeated.

Based on our research, Old Town, River North, and the Chicago Avenue corridor are sizzling hotspots where Divvy is plagued with problems.

A company spokesman declined to say how many thefts have been experienced systemwide or to compare this year’s theft statistics to previous years.

From left: Accused Divvy desperados Zafar, Johnson, Hamilton, and Appling. | Chicago Police Dept

More Arrests

In the course of three days last week, police made four more arrests for possession of stolen Divvy bikes in the Near North area—these are in addition to the four arrests we told you about last week:

• Mahammed Zafar, 22, of suburban Inverness was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at the Old Town Walgreens, 1601 North Wells, at 7:40 a.m. last Wednesday. As he was being placed in the squad car, Zafar allegedly told officers that the Divvy Bike sitting in front of the store was his—-that he found it in a skate park. A Divvy representative told officers that the bike had been stolen from a docking station without being paid for on July 9th. Zafar is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property, criminal damage to property, and shoplifting.

• Shaheed Johnson, 31, was stopped as he stood with a Divvy bike in the first block of East Chicago at 2:20 p.m. last Friday. Police said he “matched the description of an offender wanted for several Divvy bike thefts in the immediate area.” Johnson, police said, told them that someone gave him the Divvy bike he was holding. Divvy said the bike was stolen from a docking station on June 16th. Johnson is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property.

• Willie Hamilton, 44, was stopped for allegedly riding a Divvy bike on the sidewalk in the 100 block of West Division. Police say Hamilton told them that he did not rent the bike, but that he was on his way to return it. Divvy determined that the bike had been stolen from a docking station at 2:20 p.m. on July 9th. Hamilton is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property.

• Hakeem Appling, 24, was arrested for possessing an allegedly stolen Divvy in the first block of East Chicago at 8:45 p.m. last Wednesday. Once again, Divvy told police that the bike in question had been stolen from a docking station without being paid for. Appling is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property.

The City of Chicago is listed as the “victim” in all of the alleged thefts, not Divvy. That would appear to indicate that taxpayers are losing $1,200 with every stolen Divvy that does not find its way home.

Easter Eggs

Just two days after our story ran, North Side resident Andrew Coffey was out and about in Old Town. Then—Whaddya know!—Coffey found not one, not two, but three Divvy bikes tossed into the weeds under the Brown Line.

Coffee tagged Divvy in a tweet with the bikes’ location. He returned the next day. Two bikes were still there. One had apparently been stolen again. “I haven’t been back to look” since then, Coffey said on Wednesday.

Chicago social media is brimming with stolen Divvy sightings:
















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