Seattle is home to a large cycling community. The city hosts a number of cycling events each year, and has a large network of bike routes and bike lanes to accommodate cyclists within the city. With cycling at such high rates of popularity, it should be no surprise that many individuals get around the city and back to their own homes using bikes. However, this popularity has unfortunately also led to a rise in bike theft.
Seattle Bike Thefts
Last year alone, Seattle Police reported 1561 incidents of bike thefts. The University of Washington also experiences regular bike thefts on campus, with 221 bikes reported stolen to the University in the last year, with only 17 of them being returned to their proper owners. Seattle Police speculate that the rise in bike thefts can likely be linked to drug usage. Though many thefts are reported, the bike thieves themselves are seldom caught by the police. In fact, only a handful of Seattle's many bike thieves are caught each year.
Grand Theft Bicycle
Although technically a bicycle is a vehicle, and in traffic court, it is considered a legal road vehicle, theft of a bike is not treated the same way. Theft of a bike is covered by RCW 9A.56.020, Washington's general property theft statute. The statute reads:
"(1) "Theft" means:
(a) To wrongfully obtain or exert unauthorized control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(b) By color or aid of deception to obtain control over the property or services of another or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services; or
(c) To appropriate lost or misdelivered property or services of another, or the value thereof, with intent to deprive him or her of such property or services."
Washington State has three varying degrees of theft that depend on the value of the item stolen. The value of a bicycle depends on the brand and any modifications made to it. Because of this, stealing a bicycle can land even first-time offenders with some serious consequences if they are not prepared. Theft of some of the more expensive and high-end bicycles can even result in charges of theft in the second degree, which is a class C felony.
When taking into consideration the circumstances that may drive an individual to steal a bicycle, there is no reason to have to serve up to 5 years in prison, or fines up to $10,000 for what may have been a petty crime. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact us today.