Reed College bait bike sting uncovers hidden chop shop

A bait bike program at Reed College led police to a hidden chop shop in a nearby home. (KOIN)
A bait bike program at Reed College led police to a hidden chop shop in a nearby home. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Bike thefts at Reed College have become a huge problem, and to combat the issue police started a bait bike program.

An officer found a hidden door behind a bookshelf in an abandoned home. (Reed College)
An officer found a hidden door behind a bookshelf in an abandoned home. (Reed College)

They attached GPS trackers to bicycles, hoping it would lead them to whoever was responsible for the thefts.

But what they found seemed almost too crazy to be true.

“The details of this one were pretty surprising,” Reed College spokesperson Kevin Myers said. “It seemed like the plot of a Scooby Doo episode or something.”

The trackers led authorities to an abandoned home about 2 miles away from the college. At first, campus security and Portland police didn’t find any bikes inside.

But one officer noticed an odd looking bookshelf. He swung it open and found a hidden door behind it. Through the door, he entered a secret room full of bike parts and several intact bicycles: a hidden chop shop.

A bait bike program at Reed College led police to a hidden chop shop in a nearby home. (Reed College)
A bait bike program at Reed College led police to a hidden chop shop in a nearby home. (Reed College)

“It’s fantastically organized and a little bit terrifying,” Geoff Greene, who works nearby at Joe Bike, said.

Myers says bike thefts have become a huge problem on the small college campus.

“I think bike thieves really saw Reed as an easy place to steal bikes,” Myers said. “They are cutting locks, coming in… in a matter of seconds.”

But until recently, no one knew where the stolen bikes were going. Since the chop shop was uncovered, police shut down its surprisingly secretive location.

One man in the house was arrested for trespassing, but police can’t prove if he was the one behind the stolen bicycle operation.

Portland police say bikes are stolen in the city everyday. It’s a problem fueled by addiction, with stolen bikes or parts often sold in exchange for drugs.

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