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Bicycle Thefts Surging In New York City As Pandemic Causes Nationwide Shortage Of Bikes

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a nationwide shortage of bicycles because of the pandemic, but there's also no shortage of thefts.

A stolen bike surge is now underway in the city.

"Inside Edition" launched an investigative report.

A CBS employee locked a $2,300 bike to a fence in lower Manhattan, then walked away, using hidden cameras to keep an eye on it.

About 40 minutes later, a man rolls up, and within seconds, he is seen cutting through the lock and stealing the bike.

What he did not see was the GPS tracker hidden inside the tire, allowing CBS to track down the bike to a building on West 32nd Street.

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"It's a theft of opportunity," Jacob Priley said.

One Priley knows all too well.

Jacob Priley says in October, his $800 e-bike, parked right in front of his Brooklyn apartment, was stolen. (Credit: Jacob Priley)

He says in October, his $800 e-bike, parked right in front of his Brooklyn apartment, was stolen.

"The U-lock was cut, and my boyfriend actually noticed that it was gone," Priley told CBS2's Cory James.

The NYPD says bike thefts have gone up about 30% citywide.

Last year, between March 1 and Sept. 21, there were over 3,500 complaints of stolen bicycles and e-bikes.

This year, that number has increased to more than 4,400.

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"Nobody wants to be on the train," said Jeff Ortega, who works at Liberty Cycles in Hell's Kitchen.

He believes that is one reason for the increase in bike thefts. He says each week, he has between three to five customers who come in after having a bike or bike part stolen.

bicycle shop bikes bike shop
(Credit: CBS2)

But because of the pandemic, Ortega says the supply chain has dried up and most 2021 bikes are already sold out.

"There was only high-end bikes, and not everyone has high-end money to buy a high-end bike," he said.

For now, Priley is carrying his new, less expensive bike up four flights of stairs to keep it safely stored inside.

Police say keeping your bike inside or locking the bicycle frame to the rack, and not just the wheel, can help prevent your bike from being stolen.


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