Procedures for "found" bikes

@DaveSanders @Jonathan_Maus @bikeindex I have been seeing a handful of recent “found a bike” posts about bikes being found in places where reasonable people wouldn’t leave sitting out like that. I’ve seen this happen myself to, such as a nice bike left unattended and not locked in a way reasonable people wouldn’t.

I recall that an officer from BTTF was quoted or commented on that article saying you should take it in and report it if you think it is stolen. This might have been in a BikePortland article or comment. As I understand, its common for thieves to “drop off” for their drug dealer fence to pick up to avoid direct exchange.

The obvious suggestion is to run it through Bikeindex but quite a few bikes are not reported due to the victim not having retailed their serial # prior to theft.

Could we rehash how random out-of-place found bikes should be handled? Is the situation different for totally public property, vs place that is open to the public, such as unexplained bike in a parking lot? By just calling it in and leaving it hands off, I’m guessing calling it in and leaving it hands off means the wrongful acquirer would get to the bike before the police. Unlike Bikeindex, when you call in dispatch, they won’t confirm if the serial is stolen or not.


Bike Index has a “found stolen” option when you are registering a bike, shown below, at

I don’t know what PPB is doing with property these days b/c of Covid, but I’ve been asking people to hang onto the bike for a while and

a) register bikes as found-stolen in Bike Index
b) post in the local FB groups/nextdoor/reddit
c) Check the bike for any stickers or ID’ing marks
d) Wait a week then come back and check Bike Index again for that serial to see if a victim showed up late

For bikes that slip through and can’t get ID’d, if PPB won’t take them or run the serial, I’ve been advocating they get donated to somewhere like or


Dispatch will tell you they are not allowed to tell you if the serial is hot.
Whatever the method you use, I feel like making documenting and notifying the police of the “found property” a tradition is imperative so actual bike thieving junkies would not start using “oh I was holding onto it until proper owner can be found” excuse.

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I work at a bike shop. On multiple occasions we’ve had people call and say they’ve found a suspected stolen and abandoned bike, and ask if we can help. We ask them to drop the bike off, have them tell us where they found it and any other relevant facts, and then we call Portland Police who come pick it up. On at least one occasion, the officer came back a few days later and said they were able to return the bike to its rightful owner.

Now, I don’t know if PPD’s still doing this in light of recent events, but it’s what worked in the past.


I was alerted last night about a bike like mine on OfferUP–several specific items on the bike indicate with 100% certainty that it was my bike–and the confirmation was the fact that the rear wheel was missing because it got bent…which happens when you heist a bike with a U-lock securing the rear forks and the wheel and try to remove the lock.

My thanks from this site for the alert, but OfferUp responded quickly with standardized response and PBTTF responded" Until further notice, please note that there will be a delay in our response/follow-up on many bike theft related requests. Those in our bike unit have been temporarily re-assigned to address the city’s larger situation of recent unrest.

Please keep your tips and requests coming in and they will be addressed as time allows! We hope to return to normalcy within our unit soon, but are unsure what that timeline will look like as of yet. Thank you for your understanding through this period, and stay safe!

-Officer Dave Sanders"

So I would conclude we’re pretty much on our own devices to return our bikes.