Today’s guest blogger is Captain Thomas Lewis of the Punta Gorda Police Department. Captain Lewis began his law enforcement career in 1995 with the Department of Corrections as a Corrections Officer. In 1998, Captain Lewis joined the Punta Gorda Police Department team as a Police Officer.
In 2008, Captain Lewis was promoted to the rank of Captain, where he currently serves as the department’s Operations Commander in charge of the Uniform Patrol Section, Criminal Investigations Section, School Resource Officers, Specialty Teams, and Employee Development. In 2010, Captain Lewis attended and graduated from the prestigious 243rd Session of the FBI National Academy. In 2012, Captain Lewis was honored by the Southwest Florida Police Chiefs Association as the 2012 Command Officer of the Year.
Florida Bicycle Association is proud to add that Captain Lewis became a member of FBA in 2015 and immediately offered his assistance and expertise to provide today’s blog:
As a police officer since 1998, I can tell you that one of the most frustrating criminals is the thief. Thieves will steal anything, even in public places in the middle of the day. One of the items stolen all the time in our Florida communities… bicycles. Hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen each year in the United States.
There are a number of reasons someone may steal your bike. I have seen arrests of juveniles who were walking home and took a bike from a front porch – a simple crime of opportunity to a lazy kid who didn’t want to walk anymore – to tracking an organized ring of thieves from South Florida targeting high-end bicycles.
Regardless of the thieves’ motivation, I want to share with you some basic tips on how to prevent your bike from being stolen and what to do should you ever fall victim.
Bike Theft Tips
- First and foremost, lock your bike. If you are not storing your bike in your home or if you are out and about, locking your bike will reduce the opportunity and ease for an unprepared thief. Whichever lock you purchase, do not go cheap. A quality lock is worth the money to protect your investment. To stop the prepared thief, who may have tools to cut locks, etc., you may want to consider using two locks – go through both tires and the frame. Making it more difficult to steal may push the thief to take a different bike. If for some reason you find that your bike has been vandalized while it was locked up, such as a bent tire – take the bike with you. Many times thieves just want to ensure that you will leave it there so they can come back later with the needed tools to steal it.
- Although not always a deterrent, lock your bike in a well-lit, public place preferably with cameras. Many thieves will not want their picture on the news or all over social media.
- Make sure that you have recorded your bike’s serial number and any identifying marks. Pictures are also helpful to police. It is very common that moments after your bike is stolen, the thief will paint it a different color with a simple can of spray paint. While the police are looking for your blue bike, the thief is riding a red one. Also, check with your local police department to see if they participate in any programs such as CopDots.
- If you fall victim, call the police immediately. The faster you call and provide them information (serial number, make, model, color, size, photos, etc.) the better chance you have of recovering your property.
Captain Lewis serves as an assessor, team leader, committee member, and instructor with the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc. He maintains involvement with the community through coaching youth basketball, serving on the Charlotte Regional Medical Center Citizen Advisory Board, and as a Board member of Drug-Free Charlotte County.
Editor’s note: You may also”Rejjee Your Ride” starting July 11. Rejjee is the only nation-wide multi-product registry and crowd sourced Lost & Found that includes discount product replacement offers on bicycles and supports Florida Bicycle Association.
Do you have a bicycle story to tell? Photos to share? Be our guest and be our next guest blogger! Send your story and photos to Becky@floridabicycle.org. Speaking of stories, our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure. Visit the FBA website Home page or click here.