The Hermosa Beach Police Department collects upwards of a hundred abandoned bikes a year, and Det. Mick Gaglia recommends writing down a bicycle’s serial number.
“So many times, without a serial number we can’t find out who owned it,” Gaglia said. “A lot of time people don’t make out a (police) report because when a bike gets stolen, they chalk it up to a loss. They just don’t take the time to report it.”
David Esquivel of propertyroom.com loads about 50 abandoned bicycles from the Hermosa Beach Police Department onto a truck headed to auction in the City of Industry. Photo by Ed Pilolla.
Gaglia said he had a stolen bike case recently in which a suspect admitted to stealing the bicycle. But Gaglia could not take the case to court without a victim, who could be found through a serial number.
Of the 146 bicycles reported stolen in Hermosa Beach between October 2011 and October 2012, only two had serial numbers that were reported to police, Gaglia said.
About 88 bicycles were abandoned and found between October 2011 and October 2012, Gaglia said.
The city partners with Propertyroom.com to sell the bikes at auction. Propertyroom.com returns about 50 percent of bike sale proceeds to the city, which earns about $1,200 a year in bike and other found property auction sales, Gaglia said.
About 20 percent of abandoned bikes are returned to their owners, Gaglia added.
The HBPD clears out its storeroom of abandoned bikes about three times a year or as space is needed. Bicycles have to be held at least 90 days before they can be auctioned off.
On Oct. 2, Officials went through the registration numbers of the bicycles one last time before Propertyroom.com made a pickup. Officials discovered a handful of bicycles had been reported stolen since the bikes were picked up.
Propertyroom.com contracts with about 2,800 police departments and municipalities in the U.S., producing nearly 4,000 unclaimed and certified-to-be-authentic items up for bid at any given time— from buffalo horns to swords to jewelry to electronics, said CEO PJ Bellomo.
Many of the abandoned bikes in Hermosa Beach were locked up and forgotten and had to be removed from downtown bike racks, city officials said.
“People get drunk and forget where they left their bike,” one police officer said.