Park Slope stolen bikes

Slope bike bandit stole wheels, left ransom notes, cyclists say

The Brooklyn Paper
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A cold-hearted thief is holding bike parts hostage and using strange ransom notes in an attempt to lure riders into buying back their stolen gear, Park Slope cyclists say.

A brazen crook — or team of crooks — snatched the wheels off six bikes near the corner of Sixth Street and Eighth Avenue last weekend, then taped hand-written messages to the naked frames, according to victims.

“They went on a complete spree,” said cyclist Johanna Clearfield. “It’s unbelievably nervy.”

Clearfield locked her blue mountain bike to a pole at the corner at 11:30 pm on July 14, then came back the next morning and discovered both wheels had vanished. A strange note with a phone number had been taped to the body of the bike.

“Whoever owns the bike and two stolen wheels, I caught the guy. I have the bike and wheels,” the note read.

Clearfield first thought a do-gooder had pulled a heroic move — though he clearly didn’t “have the bike,” as the frame was still locked to the pole.

But then she looked closer and noticed the note had been photocopied.

That’s when she spotted five more identical notes taped to other pillaged bikes and poles on the same block, leading her to believe the person behind the message was involved in the crime.

The mysterious note writer wants to sell the bike parts back to the victims or cash in on reward money, she claims.

Her theory may not be far off: cops arrested two teens accused of bike theft several blocks away on the same night, according to officers at the 78th Precinct. Police spotted the boys — who were traveling in a pack of four — cutting a bike lock with red clippers near Fifth Avenue and President Street just before midnight, about twenty minutes after Clearfield parked her $300 ride, according to investigators.

Victims say it’s unlikely the author of the message is a good Samaritan, claiming it would be almost impossible for a passerby to catch and detain a bike bandit mid-spree — then transport dozens of parts and wheels home on the same night.

Plus, the one-size-fits-all note is oddly generic and could have been penned before the crime even took place, said Clearfield, who has since blogged about the incident on Park Slope Patch.

Brooklyn Weekly tried calling the number on the note on Wednesday but nobody answered.

Clearfield now says she has just one request for the note author, whoever he may be.

“Can I get my wheels back now?” she said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Updated 5:57 pm, July 20, 2012: Story updated to obscure the phone number in a photo. The Brooklyn Paper mistakenly published a version of the image without blurring the phone number first — we regret the error.
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Reader Feedback

Malembi from BK says:
This is as gay as the bike that folds up.
July 19, 2012, 11:26 am
Ben from Greenpoint says:
people are abusing the city property by chaining there bikes to electric poles i call this "a team of crooks"..
July 19, 2012, 11:44 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
must suck to have to chain your mode of transportation to a pole. Glad I have a garage for my vehicles.
July 19, 2012, 12:04 pm
ty from pps says:
How very "brooklyn" of you, Swampy, to have a garage and a car. very Brooklyn. Oh, wait. No. That's more Long Island and New Jersey, isn't it?
July 19, 2012, 12:40 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
SwampYankee has no idea how real Brooklyners live.
July 19, 2012, 12:46 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Plenty of single family houses in Northern Brooklyn with garages. Usually the ones on the corner. Little out of your price range though. If you can get a date and do go out to a nice restaurant do you both cycle over or does she ride on the handle bars? What if it rains? Not so many cabs in Brooklyn late at night, eh?

seems I'm living just fine, and for a long time. How are things in the rental world? Can you afford an extra u-lock to properly secure your "ride"?
July 19, 2012, 12:55 pm
Brooklynite from Brooklynville says:
I wonder what Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville thinks about all this.
July 19, 2012, 1:42 pm
Fire Sale on Rims from Your Wicked Witch of the West Bicycle says:
ty "from" pps you must have never ventured out of your safe little whitebread gentrified "nabe" of north west north east upper artsy yupster fantacyland, because almost every person I've ever met who's actually really truely from Brooklyn grew up in either a single family detached home with a yard and garage or a duplex or rowhouse with a garage or at least private off street parking.

Mike "from" Williamsburg I'm pretty sure you're no expert on how Brooklynites live since you don't even know that they are called BrooklynITEs…

There are homeless children in East Africa that have a better understanding of Brooklyn than most of you transplanted try-hards.
July 19, 2012, 1:56 pm
ty from pps says:
"because almost every person I've ever met who's actually really truely from Brooklyn grew up in either a single family detached home with a yard and garage or a duplex or rowhouse with a garage or at least private off street parking."


Brooklyn has 2.5 million people... and a population density of 36,356/sq mile.

What world do you guys live in? I happen to live on a street of detached houses and driveways.... but I also know this is the EXCEPTION. The VAST MAJORITY of the people in my neighborhood live in apartment buildings and row houses with no private parking.

(And Swampy, you do know Brooklyn has car services, right? You call them on a telephone. Do you recall, I mentioned I have a car? But guess what... when I go out at night I don't drive because drinking and driving is both unsafe and illegal. I take public transportation with my date -- like millions of other New Yorkers, this isn't a strange thing -- or call a car. Oh yeah, and riding around the city on bikes is actually quite a nice activity to do with a date.)
July 19, 2012, 2:20 pm
CHEAP iPhones and MacBooks from some clueless gentrifyer I jacked on the train says:
Well I'm not from Brooklyn and would never claim to be. However I do know from all the time I've spent there and all the folks I work with who are from there and still live there that there are not only tons of houses with garages in Dyker and Bensonhurst, but there are even blocks in Dyker with alleys (not to mention backyards with swimming pools). And there are lots of row houses with a tuck-under garage all accross Brooklyn. Even some tiny little pre-automobile rowhouses in places like Bushwick and Brownsville have a driveway in the front of them. The point being that there are plenty of "real brooklynites" who live in a place they can park a car off street. And certainly there is no need for anyone ever to chain a bike to a public pole overnight. In Brooklyn or anywhere else.
But I see it was a waste of my breath to tell you that. The fact that you rip on Swampy for living in a house with a garage and then admit to living on a block with detached houses and driveways speaks volumes about your character, not to mention your "knowledge" of Brooklyn.
July 19, 2012, 3:09 pm
Bendrix says:
Do all native Brooklynites talk like the guy who writes the Die Hipster blog?

I lived in Sunset Park for a couple years. Definitely a lot of houses with garages there.
July 19, 2012, 3:39 pm
pearl from park slope says:
The bike in this picture has been abandoned on the corner of my street for years. Johanna Clearfield may have stuck a note to it, but it's not her bike. Natalie, did you happen to find *any* other people who had their bikes stolen on this block, or did you just take her word for it?
July 19, 2012, 4:09 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I wasn't going to say anything here, but the bike in the photo is blue...But it is not a mountain bike. I find this reaporting to be quite suspicious, if you don't mind my saying so.
July 19, 2012, 4:26 pm
Omar from Schwinn says:
Ty, your date cancelled - somebody took her training wheels.
July 19, 2012, 4:27 pm
Olly from Sunset Park says:
Funny, I live in Sunset Park too, and I would say that while some homes have driveways and garages, that is the exception, not the rule. Most do not.
July 19, 2012, 4:31 pm
ty from pps says:
MOST people in Brooklyn don't own cars! it's really as simple as that. This isn't even controversial. This is fact.

You can say owning a car is very "Brooklyn" if your want. The fact is, owning a car is very "Transplant" -- guess which city has a higher rate of car ownership... New York or Des Moines?
July 19, 2012, 5:08 pm
Ant from Brooklyn but thank Dog not Park Slope says:
Park Slope has the most entertaining, ridiculous police blotter comments. Beats Fort Greene even!

You're not all baby stroller pushing whitebread over-educated pseudo intellectual, pseudo bohemian, pseudo liberal idiots! Most of you are, but not all!

I love NYC. I hate those that talk about transplants vs natives. The natives that stay here, mostly morons without the sense to leave. The ones that don't ever mention non-native nyers, those are my people. You have no entitlements to anything, any of you, born here or not. Shut up you generalizing fools!

I wish I stole your bike parts.
July 19, 2012, 5:23 pm
Bay Ridge Girl from Bay Ridge says:
It is purely ignorant to say that "real brooklynites" don't have cars or driveways. Ever try to find parking in Brooklyn? There is no parking, because we all drive cars you dumb ——.
July 19, 2012, 7:08 pm
Bay Ridge Girl from Bay Ridge says:
Why do they edit curse words on here?! Damn!
July 19, 2012, 7:09 pm
Jan from Cobble Hill says:
I'm not a native Brooklynite as you call it, but in my Neighborhood there are no garages and nearly nobody I know even owns a car.
We live close enough to Manhattan to have a great subway connection and if I want to go anywhere else I take my bike, call a cab or even rent a car.
Though, I really see no need for nobody to lock his or her bike on a pole at night, just take it to your appartment.
July 19, 2012, 8:50 pm
S from PPW says:
I'm sure the original owner of my 1885 Brownstone originally had a garage attached to the building and a car parked inside. I believe the Brooklyn Bridge was also built so that "real" New Yorkers could drive over it.
July 19, 2012, 9:43 pm
Car Owner from Brooklyn says:
Only 43% of households in Brooklyn own cars. The vast majority of Brooklyn residents do not own cars. Period. End of story. Brooklyn's car owners are a minority and a relatively elite, wealthy, privileged and insanely entitled minority, at that. Congratulations on being wealthy enough to own a car in Brooklyn. Now please shut up and stop imposing your space-hogging, horn-honking, exhaust-spewing, planet-cooking awfulness on the rest of us.
July 20, 2012, 1:15 am
Omar from Schwinn says:
planet-cooking ?

hahahahaha! Where did you study science?
July 20, 2012, 7:44 am
R from Park Slope says:
That is 100% NOT Clearfield's bike. She rides a black mountainbike with a plastic crate as a basket. She was riding it yesterday (and has been daily for ages). It is locked up in front of her building almost every day. The blue bike in the photo has been chained and abandoned on the sign post at the corner of 6th St. and 8th Ave for years. It is still there.
July 20, 2012, 9:25 am
Not from Brooklyn says:
57% is a "vast majority" now? Most statistics have a margin of error of like /-6%. Even without that, 57% is a majority, yes. But a VERY slim one. 85–90% would be considered a vast majority. I don't know anything about planet cooking (Europe just had it's coldest, deadliest winter on record and I'm pretty sure there are lots of cars — and garages! — there), but I also have to question where Car Owner got his scientific training.

Maybe at Ye Olde Masturbation Brothers Whimsical Filthy Chocolate Factory?

But I don't care about cars or garages anyway. I'm more interested in the comments pointing out the problems with this article. That bike in the picture has been there for years? And I'm a little disappointed in the hipsters that run the "brooklyn" paper that they can't even identify a mountain bike? WTF? All they ever say is "bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike lanes bike bike bike rooftop bike bike bike bike bike"…
July 20, 2012, 9:30 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I find it odd that the majority of these postings are about "who the real ass hole is", when it seems to me that hardly anyone is questioning the authenticity of this article.
July 20, 2012, 10:23 am
shutyerhole from urmama says:
hey swamphole
cars get stolen and garages get broken into stupid.
July 20, 2012, 10:39 am
shutyerhole from urmama says:
hey swamphole
cars get stolen and garages broken into, stupid.
July 20, 2012, 10:40 am
BK All Day from PLG says:
I'm more Brooklyn than you! Nyah!!!
July 20, 2012, 10:57 am
Drew from Carroll Gardens says:
I called the guy and he picked up: said he only left one note.
July 20, 2012, 2:05 pm
ty from pps says:
Not From Brooklyn -- Yes, 57% is the vast majority... since the statistic is *households* with a car. There are multiple people in a household.

There are about 2.5 million people in Brooklyn... but only about 420,000 cars.

So, yes, 83% is the vast majority.
July 20, 2012, 3:02 pm
Johanna from Park Slope says:
They say if something seems too good to be true - it probably is. When I saw a note saying that someone had "caught the guy" -- I absolutely could not believe it. I was wrong. The 67 year old vigilante and I finally had a conversation. I wrote the follow up story here:
July 20, 2012, 10:15 pm
Johanna from Park Slope says:
Who in the world would be keeping such close track of what I do and when I do it? This post was really worrying:
"R from Park Slope says:
That is 100% NOT Clearfield's bike. She rides a black mountainbike with a plastic crate as a basket. She was riding it yesterday (and has been daily for ages). It is locked up in front of her building almost every day. The blue bike in the photo has been chained and abandoned on the sign post at the corner of 6th St. and 8th Ave for years. It is still there."
Ps. Yes, I use my bike for everything - from doing laundry to going food shopping, constantly. and no, the blue bike in the photo was not my bike - I never said it was. I used the photo as a visual for the purpose of showing a bike robbed of its wheels. The vigilante (Peter) did not know that bike had been there for years -- which it has been. He thought that was the bike that had its wheels stolen -- I explained it to him when we spoke yesterday.
July 20, 2012, 10:18 pm
Car Owner from Brooklyn says:
Not from Brooklyn:

You are a moron and the Brooklyn Paper comments section is a cesspool so I'm not even sure why I'm responding to this. But let's see if your tiny little pea brain can comprehend this...

According to the U.S. Census, 57% of Kings County "households" do not own cars. Households. Multiple people live inside of households. Get it?

A much larger percentage -- a "vast majority" -- of Brooklyn's 2.5 million individual residents do not own cars.

This is just a fact. Sorry if it's messing with your windshield-perspective worldview.
July 21, 2012, 3:41 pm
Slip Mahoney from Irish Hills says:
July 22, 2012, 1:27 pm

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