Bike thefts jump in Santa Rosa

  • Janelle Rossi rides along Cherry Street on her new road bike in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Rossi recently had another $3,000 road bike stolen out of her garage. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa cyclist Janelle Rossi went through all the stages of what she called "bike grief" when someone stole her road bike in March from her apartment building's garage, where it had been solidly locked to a cement wall.

"The first day, I was devastated," she said. "I stood in the garage and cried."

Though not for a lack of trying, Rossi has yet to recover her prized Specialized bike — worth about $3,000, including attached gear. Her experience is one in an increased number of cycle thefts in Santa Rosa, according to bike advocates and police records.

Reported bike thefts nearly doubled to 115 in the first half of 2013 over the same time period in 2012, police officials said. This year, there were 101 reported thefts in the city through June 1. The rise follows at least three years, from 2010 to 2012, in which police said the number of reported thefts was fairly stable.

"We know there's a real problem with bike theft in Santa Rosa, much more so than in other cities in Sonoma County," said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group.

The uptick is drawing a response from the local cycling community, which has created websites where people can report stolen bikes. Advocates have also formed a bicycle theft task force to work with city government and police.

Bikes are being stolen from downtown Santa Rosa and Railroad Square shopping districts as well as residential areas, according to Santa Rosa police and Helfrich.

Helfrich said thieves are taking every type of cycle, from an old cruiser to a $10,000 road bike.

Santa Rosa police Lt. Ray Navarro, who oversees the traffic and downtown Santa Rosa patrols, said about a quarter of the reported thefts this year have been of high-end bikes, worth $1,000 or more.

Many thefts are crimes of convenience that can be prevented by simply using a good lock, Helfrich said. The bicycle coalition is hoping to drive home that message, urging riders to take extra precautions when leaving their bikes unattended.

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