PORTLAND, Ore. -- Two issues frequently topping Portland headlines, homeless camping and bike thefts, have come to a head on the Springwater Corridor, according to police.
So Saturday, Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force put extra sets of eyes and wheels on the embattled 21-mile trail to search for stolen bikes.
“We get a lot of complaints and tips,” said Officer David Sanders. “A lot of the complaints stem from the quantity and volume of bike parts that they see.”
Officer Ben Labasan took the theory a step further.
“There's a lot people possibly stashing stolen bikes there,” he said
PPB even gave frustrated trail users a chance to fight back by inviting the public, via Twitter, on a Springwater ride along.
Chris Mealy and his son Ryan took them up on the offer. For Mealy, it promised to be a return to Springwater, years in the making.
“It bothered me five years ago when it was so crowded. I haven't been back since,” he said of campers along the trail. “I'm sure my eyes are going to be opened wide.”
At around 10 a.m. the small group set out from the Willamette’s east bank, keeping their eyes peeled for stranded bikes or piles of bike parts.
It didn’t take them long to find what they were looking for.
“A lot of these places are unattended, just sitting out in the open,” said Officer Sanders.
In fact, the crew hit the jackpot just east of Southeast 55th Avenue, where they found a green public bike, valued around $1,000, lying in the grass outside a motor home.
Ryan Mealy took photos as Sanders and Labasan ran the bike’s serial number and found it was recently reported stolen.
They said someone was inside the motor home but officers didn’t make an arrest. They simply took the bike, planning to return it to its owner soon.
Farther east, near Southeast 82nd Avenue, they came across another big find in the form of piles of bike frames and wheels, stacked up outside a small group of tents.
Police snapped more pictures and recorded more serial numbers. After more than three hours of work, they headed back to the Bureau.
They said they hope to do another ride along soon, especially given the response they got from grateful cyclists on the Corridor.
“A lot of people have expressed appreciation that we're out and visible,” said Officer Sanders. “So that's neat to see.”