How brazen are the bike thieves prowling the Metrotech office complex Downtown? They just stole the beloved wheels of one of our reporters after it was parked directly in front of the surveillance-camera-equipped security office — the same place where another Community Newspaper Group staffer had his bike seat stolen earlier this year.
“I’m an emotional wreck,” Brooklyn Paper senior reporter Stephen Brown said, moments after leaving work late as always on Oct. 7 to find only a wheel where his Gary Fisher bike had been on Lawrence Street. “My bike and I had so many fond memories together — I remember that time we went swan-spotting in Prospect Park at 6 am.”
Brown pointed the finger at many parties for the stunning crime — himself included.
For one, bike-less Brown blamed the bicycle parking policy of the Metrotech campus.
Metrotech security forces leave notes threatening to seize bikes if they are improperly locked or left overnight. The policy forces bikers to have both a lock and a chain on hand — which Brown did not have on that fateful day. And 1 Metrotech Center North, often referred to as the Community Newspaper Group building, does not allow tenants to store their bikes in their offices.
Cyclists who need better security are told to park their bikes near the Metrotech patrol office, but our staffers have found little comfort from that advice.
To top it off, reported bike thefts have alarmingly increased in DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights and Downtown. Last year there were only 13 reported bike thefts in the 84th Precinct. This year, there have already been at least 73 — actually, make that 74.
The next day Brown reported the crime — and got a tongue lashing from the cops.
“You should’ve reported it yesterday, man,” said the cop taking the report. “Maybe we could’ve caught the guy!”
“You really think you can catch him?” Brown asked.
“Well no, not now!” the cop replied.
That just made Brown feel guilty, as he had locked his bike with only a U-lock … on the front tire.
“You can blame the victim, I’m an idiot,” said Brown, who noted that the thief only had to pop the quick-release on the front wheel to remove the bike frame and then wheelie the stolen ride away from the scene of the crime.
“Jesus, they stole your bike — this is an outrage!” said editor Gersh Kuntzman. “We’ll send a photographer right down.”
Kuntzman’s sympathies were misplaced, however. “This will give me a chance to re-run those photos of my bike seat getting stolen and my other bike getting gershed. Brown — you’re a genius!”
Brown fumed that the security office gave him a false sense of security.
“I’ll admit it’s naïve, but I kind of thought there would be some sort of ‘Green Zone’ of protection at least within 10-feet of the hub of all Metrotech security!” said Brown, who repeated, “I’m an idiot.”
But if Brown had paused before locking his bike, he would have recalled that before Kuntzman had his seat stolen in March, he’d had his entire bike stolen — the third such incident to befall the award-winning editor — from a nearby Metrotech bike rack just last year.
But he had done no such thing.
Broken and dejected, Brown returned to the newsroom and called Transportation Alternatives, the cycling advocacy group that counseled Kuntzman through his wave of bike thefts last year.
Kim Martineau, a spokeswoman, did what any good therapist does: she listened.
Eventually, Martineau chimed in.
“The moral of the story is Kryptonite chains!” she said. “Those things just look like they’re going to be more trouble than they’re worth.”