October 28, 2013

Twelve Years a Jailbird

Thanks to my friend Karen for bringing to my attention last week the stiff prison sentences her home county of Arlington, VA is meting out to bike thieves these days.

Here's the case that made news: A 42-year-old named Michael Cullen pled guilty to eight counts of grand larceny (as we saw in "You F***ing Felon," Virginia has the lowest "felony threshold"—as defined in that post—in the country) with the intent to sell and one count of possession of burglarious (I'm sure I have never typed that word before) tools. For his involvement in multiple bicycle thefts, Cullen was sentenced on October 18, 2013 to 12 years in jail with four years suspended provided the victims receive full restitution.

Sparse on details of his particular crimes, the cookie-cutter news stories of Cullen's sentencing all cite his arrest and conviction as part of Arlington County's crackdown on bicycle theft. Spurred by the revelation that bike theft is at an all-time high in the county, the police department's burglary/larceny unit has stepped into high gear, with increased surveillance and saturation patrols (these are what they sound like). A list of arrests attests to the "positive results" law enforcement has seen thanks to these measures.

I was heartened to hear that thieves are being apprehended, but the rundown also reminded me that bikes really aren't safe much of anywhere, not in parking garages or even secured (supposedly) bike cages in apartment buildings. Confirmation that I'm not crazy for ceding precious floorspace in my probably <400 square foot studio to my Surly. This way you've gotta break and enter to get at it, and I bet that's a felony anywhere.

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