Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cracking Down on Bicycle Thefts

70,000 Bikes Stolen Annually in NYC

By Conor Greene

With an average of 70,000 bikes stolen each year in New York City – or 191 each day –Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi is pushing legislation that would allow for felony charges in cases of multiple thefts by one person.

Currently, most bike thefts are classified as misdemeanors, even if the perpetrator is caught with multiple bikes. That’s because the thefts only rise to felony level if the person has taken multiple bikes from one person, which happens much less frequently.

To help combat bike thefts, Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) is pushing three pieces of legislation through the state Assembly. The first would make it a class E felony to possess four or more stolen bikes at once, even if they were taken from four different victims. Under existing law, the suspect would only be charged with multiple misdemeanor charges.

The second bill would require the Consumer Protection Board to develop an educational Website about bike theft prevention that offers suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim. The third would require bike retailers across the state to post information informing consumers about the Website.

The three bills are currently working their way through Assembly and Senate committees. The idea is to crack down on bike theft while encouraging consumers to be more aware of the problem, as it has become an organized and profitable crime that is much harder to crackdown on than car theft, according to Hevesi.

“This legislation provides a necessary prosecutorial tool to crack down on bicycle theft. Under current law, the only way for possession of multiple stolen bicycles to be prosecuted with a charge above a misdemeanor is for the prosecution to prove that the aggregate value of the bicycles is more than $1000,” said Hevesi

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