bicycle confiscated by nyc officers

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Anonymous's picture

"i am deeply concerned that various nyc enforcement departments lack concern for the property of citizens. there seems to be no centralized system to retreive confiscated bicycles, while there are countless departments which each have their own form of police force out on the streets with (apparently) legal rights and interest in the confiscation of bicycles of unaware citizens.

last night my bike was taken while locked to a signpost at 14th street and 4th avenue, the corner of union square (monday dec 6th, 5:40pm). it is not the most attractive bike, i've left it on the streets for over 3 years and i've had no real problems, as nobody takes interest in my bike. for that reason i was surprised to see it gone. my lock was cut and still on the ground and i asked a man standing nearby if he saw anyone take my bike. ""some officers took bikes along here earlier"" he told me. this made more sense to me than a robbery, as i already mentioned that the bike is not so attractive.

so, since that time, i've contacted dozens of phone lines for nypd's local office and south manhattan task force, transit police, nyc parks, nyc parks police, sanitation police, and i've yet been able to get through to the dot or traffic dept. my request to get my confiscated bicycle seems to boggle everyone i reach, as if i were the first person to call looking for my bike. or if they know about bike confiscations they asked, ""were you in the critical mass rally this past saturday?"". ""no"" i responded (i really wasn't, but i'm beginning to have more sympathy and interest for the organisation thanks to the officers i spoke to ).

when i was at the precinct office i was told that park services have had to start confiscating bikes around union square because ""it's become a real problem"". Apparently, all bicyclists in general are ""activists and radicals"" according to an officer at the 13th precinct.

a park officer explained to me that a bicycle tied to a post on the street at the edge of a park is officially ""abandoned"" and may be taken by parks police. i mentioned that the parks have no signs stating that this may occur, and his response was, "" in our parks we have up to almost 60 rules, if we posted all 60 rules it wouldn't look like a park anymore, but more like a billboard"". but then he kindly took my information and called me back later to inform me that his group was not confiscating bikes in union square that night, but in the east river park instead. he recommended that i try a couple of other numbers, and they gave me a couple more numbers.

has anyone had a similar problem. are there any central bike depositories that i can check other than the one an officer told be about on kingsland ave in greenpoint? i appreciate any help in trying to relocate my bike which is currently lost in an incomprehensible system.



Anonymous's picture
Geo Carl Kaplan (not verified)
bicycle confiscation

Betsey Gotbaum, the NYC Ombundsman or woman.

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
TIME'S UP! is working on this--here's info

"Below is text from a 9/20 e-mail sent by TU to its mailing list. (Anyone can subscribe by clicking the link at


Was your bike stolen by a BIC pen? Or was it possibly stolen in an organized fashion by the NYPD? There are a lot of stories floating around about city employees clipping bikes off of public property, especially around the time of the RNC. Documentation of these stories is key to finding out the truth and building a case. We know bike theft has been on the rise in the last three months, but we’re not sure who’s stealing them. So far, the Ninth Precinct (Lower East Side, East Village, Union Square) has admitted that it clipped 30-40 bikes during the week of the RNC. We now have a volunteer named Phil who is collecting this information so we’ll be able to go public with the real story. It’s important that you send accurate, first-hand information about suspicious bike thefts. We’re looking for information that concerns multiple thefts from the same area. We know that bikes were taken around the Bedford Av ""L"" station and around RNC events, especially at Union Square.

Please email your story to [email protected], including where and when you lost your bike, what kind of lock you used and what you had it locked to. Include a phone number! Your story is very valuable as legal evidence and in the upcoming press campaign. With this information we'll try to help recover any bikes illegally held by the city and the NYPD.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)


Sorry to hear you got caught up in the dragnet. I have forwarded your message to some people who may be able to help. Other sources to check are: [Concerns getting bikes confiscated during RNC, but may help]

Could you please contact me off list. Thanks.


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