You’ve heard of getaway cars right? Well what about getaway bicycles? Like almost anything in society, if it exists, it’s been stolen or used to commit a crime at some point. Bicycles are no exception to the rule.
Bike theft is a big deal just about everywhere were bikes are popular. But that’s not the bicycle’s only relationship to crime.
Many criminals have also used bikes to commit crimes or escape from a crime scene as well! Below are our top 12 bike related crimes! To make this list, the crime must either involve stealing bicycles, or have a bicycle be an essential factor in a criminal act.
1 – Canada’s Most Notorious Bike Thief: Igor Kenk
Somehow when you think of notorious thieves throughout history, you don’t think of bike thieves. You think of guys who steal famous paintings or cars or something else. Even in fiction, notorious thieves are stealing things like diamonds or a 1967 Shelby GT500. I’m just saying, there’s no movie called “Gone in 60 pedals”.
However for Canadians, Igor Kenk is right up there with other infamous thieves.
You see, when police raided Igor’s bicycle repair shop and his garages and warehouses, they found nearly 3000 stolen bicycles. Since he was accused of stealing 140 bikes in 1993, (the charges were dropped) it is likely that he had spent at least 15 years building up his impressive collection of ill-acquired bikes.
The story doesn’t end there though. You see, Igor was released from jail in 2010, and not long after he discovered that 1,830 of the bikes he had stolen over the years were being donated to Toronto youth. And he was upset.
Igor even denounced the entire operation, claiming that the bikes were still his and said that they will never be able to restore the bikes to working order without him (as many of them were severely damaged or missing many parts). To this day, Igor maintains his innocence, claiming he is not guilty.
2 – Ohio’s own Sith Lord makes a bicycle getaway
This is the type of story that you’d expect to read on one of those weird news sites or a parody news site like the Onion. Only this one is all true. It was a relatively eventless day in the Huntington bank in Toledo Ohio on May 23rd, 2012. That is, until Darth Vader made an appearance.
Trading in his lightsaber for a handgun, Vader walked into the bank and demanded cash, and once the employees obliged, he made his getaway – on a BMX Bike.
3 – The Citibike that was stolen before Citibikes hit the streets
New York is one of the world’s major hubs for a lot of things. It’s known for its art, its culture, its high class circles and for being destroyed in every major disaster movie ever (seriously, what does Hollywood have against good old NYC?).
But New York City is also known for its crimes, particularly when it comes to bicycles. In one of the world’s biggest centers for bicycle theft, this crime still stands out as pretty impressive.
You see, usually people wait until the bikes are parked somewhere on the streets, they can be nabbed without too much suspicion. But this anonymous thief was one step ahead of the game. The day before New York’s Citibike program hit the streets, one of them was stolen right out of one of the loading trucks, never to return.
Every year, a few Citibikes go missing. But so far, none of the thieves have been able to top the dude who nabbed the first one.
4 – The Citibike grab-and-dump spree
This one isn’t specifically one crime, but it kept police in New York busy for a long time in 2014 during the peak of this spree. You see, around 70 Citibikes were discovered by police in East New York, Brownsville and Crown Heights (and other nearby neighbourhoods) over the course of the investigation.
At first cops thought it was an isolated incident, but the pattern became clear; people were snatching the bikes from their docks in Manhattan and riding them as much as they see fit, then dumping them when they were done.
Many of the discarded bikes were then taken and/or ridden by others once they were abandoned by the original thieves. Some of the bikes were painted or modified so that the rider wouldn’t get in trouble for riding them.
Over 5 people were arrested when they were caught riding stolen Citibikes, and several others were caught stealing or trying to steal the bikes.
Generally, the way they would pull it off is by waiting for someone to dock their Citibike improperly, then they would just act like they were an ordinary customer and steal the bike.
This crime spree was particularly nasty because many riders who checked out the bikes that were later stolen were charged $1200 due to Citibike’s policy regarding stolen or missing bikes (if a Citibike you are responsible for is not returned properly or goes missing, you could have to pay a $1200 charge).
5 – The theft of Lance Armstrong’s bike
I must say, it takes a lot of balls (no pun intended) to not only steal the former king of competitive cycling’s bike, but to do it immediately after a race. So here’s what happened. Lance Armstrong and his team were in California in 2009 for the 9-day Amgen Tour, which he was competing in.
After completing the first stage of the race, Armstrong’s one of a kind bike ended up in a trailer behind the hotel he was staying at in Sacramento. Sometime after the race, someone managed to break into the trailer, and steal not only Armstrong’s one of a kind bike, but two other bikes belonging to people on his team.
The thief successfully got away, and the rather upset Armstrong immediately took to twitter to report the crime and ask for the public’s help in getting his bike back.
Just 4 days later, a Good Samaritan discovered the iconic black and yellow bike, and returned it to authorities. The other two missing bikes were not recovered. It is unknown whether the Samaritan claimed the reward Armstrong offered or not.
6 – Sabotaging the Tour De France
When it comes to crimes involving cycling, there’s no way we could have gotten away with not mentioning this gem. Controversy and anarchy hit the Tour De France in 2012, when an unknown spectator threw a bunch of tacks on the track.
Because of this act of vandalism, over 30 cyclists suffered from punctured tyres, including Cadel Evans, who was the defending champion at the time.
It’s widely speculated that this crime actually had a long term impact on the race and may have even changed the outcome, as many of the riders were out for a while, and some were injured (and one person even being forced to drop out of the race).
To this day, nobody knows who put out the tacks or why. It could have been a conspiracy to set some of the competition back and try and cheat the race. It could have been a disgruntled fan or worker. It could have been teenagers who just thought it would be funny.
7 – The guy who stopped crime with a bicycle
First things first, this video is awesome. Watch it and marvel at how cool this guy is.
Because of this man’s actions, the woman’s purse was returned and the thieves apprehended. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even bothered with those guys. I think the would-be purse snatchers probably learned a valuable lesson that day; you never know when one of the Avengers is around, so don’t steal purses or you might just end up eating a bicycle.
Just remember guys: somewhere in China, this man is still roaming the streets. I like to think he became a masked vigilante, stopping crime by whacking criminals with his bike.
8 – The guy who REALLY likes bicycles.
Igor Kenk liked his bikes, but this young guy from Sweden REALLY liked his bikes. So for reasons known only to this guy, he decided the best way to spend his afternoon would be by slashing bike tyres. But that wasn’t enough of a thrill for him. He then decided to “relief” himself on one of the bikes.
He was caught on camera pleasuring himself on of the bikes and leaving. He was caught and charged with vandalism. As for the victims, well I don’t know if any amount of cleaning could make them want to ride that bike again.
9 – The drive-by
Were you under the impression that drive-by shootings were only done with cars (or motorcycles)? Well, you’d be wrong. In San Francisco, California, a 17 year old (who legally cannot be identified) was running away from the police on his bicycle and decided the rational, leveled-headed thing to do would be to attempt to shoot down the cop.
He of course missed, because the level of accuracy it takes to make a shot like that is beyond the skill of a 17 year old thug, and ended up surrendering when the officer threatened to return fire.
The kid later attempted to make another run for it, but was tackled by police. Some people never learn their lesson.
10 – Cyclist terrorist
This one is a little darker than the others. New York City has, unfortunately, been no stranger to terrorist attacks, and in 2008, yet another terrorist attempted to bomb the city. Dubbed the Times Square Bomber, this man targeted an army recruitment centre, planting a homemade bomb outside its doors in Times Square, just before 4 a.m. The Bomber then escaped on a bicycle, and the bomb detonated.
Though no one was hurt in the bombing, the event once again ignited fear in New Yorkers. The one responsible was never caught, though the Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered a $65,000 USD reward for information that leads to his capture.
The bomber is also apparently connected to two other attacks of foreign embassies in 2005 and 2007, also in New York. To this day, the FBI continues to hunt for the suspect and his/her possible accomplices.
11 – The guy who stopped a bike race – with his car
In 2008, in Monterrey, Mexico, a bike race ended in tragedy when a car plowed through the racers, injuring 10 people and killing one. The man responsible was apparently drunk when he got in his car. He passed out at the wheel just before losing control of his car and crashing through the race. He was arrested and charged with manslaughter and drunk driving, and sent to jail.
Supposedly he had citizenship in both the US and Mexico, however the US Consulate never confirmed or denied that fact to the media.
12 – The man who tried to sell a stolen bike – back to its owner
Marque Moore doesn’t belong on this list because his crime was particularly heinous or even extremely well pulled off. It’s here because it’s unique in how laughably stupid it was. We’ve got to end on a high note, right? So Moore certainly wasn’t an Igor Kenk, but he did manage to steal a few bikes here and there, to sell them for a profit.
Only he made one fatal error. He decided, with his endless wisdom, to attempt to sell one of the bikes he stole back to the person he stole it from. Not surprisingly, he was caught and arrested, exposing his other thefts. Just goes to show, if you’re going to steal a bike, don’t try and sell it back to the owner.