Police department auctions off stolen, recovered bikes

Bikes are found in all parts of Minneapolis and typically sell from $5 to $400.

Students who thought their long-lost bikes were just a stolen memory might want to look at the auction block.

Minneapolis Police Department auctions feature recovered abandoned bikes, stolen bikes and bikes used in crimes. The department holds auctions nine times a year.

The department recovers the bikes in many ways, said Kerstin Hammarberg, property and evidence unit supervisor of the Minneapolis Police Department. Damaged bikes are made functional before the sale, she said.

Bikes are found in all parts of Minneapolis and typically sell from $5 to $400, Hammarberg said.

On auction days, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., people can view the bikes. Victims can attempt to find their stolen property or see what’s available, said Harry Rasmussen, police warehouse technician.

But Rasmussen said victims should not expect to just go down and chose one.

In order to prove the bike is theirs, the victim needs to provide a receipt of purchase, a serial number or a picture of themselves and the bike together, he said.

Since Sept. 1, 2003, the University Police Department has received 120 reports of bicycle theft on campus, police officials said.

Sophomore Andy Ford said his $850 Trek mountain bike was stolen after being cable locked.

He said he was not informed of the bike auctions, but should have been.

“I wish the police officer said it could be at one of these auctions,” Ford said.

If the bike’s serial number was scratched off or the bike was tampered with, the victim would have the best chance of recognizing it, Rasmussen said.

Junior Alex Fasching said he felt horrible when his $230 Trek mountain bike, a Christmas present from his parents, was stolen.

“When I asked the officer who filed the report if there was a chance they would find it, she kind of laughed,” Fasching said. “It really sucks, but what can you do?”

Fasching said it is difficult to buy another bike because it might just get stolen again.

First-year pharmacy student Mike Jewell, who had a $200 Schwinn bike stolen, said he bought his bike used and did not have the serial number.

He said the police officer told him there was little chance of recovery. But, Jewell said he supports the bike auctions.

“If they recover stolen property and they don’t know whose it is, I don’t see a problem with selling it,” he said.

Hammarberg said each auction generates about $2,500. She said the money is used to support the auction and the rest goes to the police department.

Rasmussen said bike theft victims have 10 business days to claim their bike before they go to auction.

He said badly damaged bikes are either destroyed or sent to charity organizations.