“Hot ??”: Compromised Lock System Has Divvy Bikes Battling Theft Surge; 4 Arrests In 6 Days In River North

The operators of Chicago’s Divvy Bike sharing program today cited a “recent series of thefts of bikes” from docking stations for a decision to install new “more tamper-proof lock mechanisms” system-wide.

Divvy’s statement followed an inquiry from CWBChicago about an apparent surge in thefts of the ubiquitous blue bikes after an editor personally saw two Divvy bikes beings stolen in separate locations downtown over recent days.

CWBChicago’s team has found social media photos of up to ten apparently-stolen Divvies being posed like trophies on the North Side.

Also signaling a systemic problem: Between July 2nd and July 6th, four adults were arrested and charged with possessing stolen Divvy Bikes in the Near North neighborhood alone, according to police and court papers.

Divvy bikes have also been used by gunmen in “pedal-by” shootings on Lower Wacker Drive in the Loop on June 29th and near the Sedgwick Brown Line station in Old Town on July 2nd, according to authorities. While it is not known if the shooters are members of the paying Divvy community, there is a general feeling among cops that the bikes were stolen.

Easy Peazy

A CWBChicago editor first saw a Divvy bike being stolen from a docking station outside of the Daley Center in late June or early July. Without going into detail about the technique used, the editor’s attention was drawn to the man because his behavior was unusual. Within seconds, the bike came loose, and the man pedaled away toward Daley Plaza.

Our editor didn’t quite know what to make of the scene until July 3rd when he saw a different person performing the exact same behavior at a Divvy rack near Washington Square Park on the Near North Side. Within seconds, the man’s bike was free and he pedaled away.

CWBChicago is withholding the details of how the Divvy lock mechanism is being defeated. Combined with the familiar tugging and pulling on bikes that thieves have been seen doing for years, it now looks like Divvy has a real problem on its hands with locks that can be defeated.

A company spokesman declined to say how many thefts have been experienced systemwide or to compare this year’s theft statistics to previous years.

“Security of Divvy’s bikes and stations is a top priority. The system has existing software and hardware that monitors when and where riders take out and return bikes and charges riders for lost or stolen bikes,” the spokesman said.

But the new problem appears to be not Divvy users who don’t return bikes, but a compromise of the Divvy port locking system.

“We’re also retrofitting all of our docks with stronger, more tamper-proof lock mechanisms,” the spokesperson said in a nod to the new challenge. “Overall, Chicago residents have demonstrated a strong commitment to Divvy and the principle of bike sharing.”

Locations of four recent arrests for theft of Divvy bikes (1-4). The star indicates the location where a CWBChicago editor witnessed a Divvy theft on July 3rd.

Score Four

Cops in the 18th (Near North) Police District made four separate arrests of adults for allegedly possessing stolen Divvy bikes over the course of just four days earlier this month:

• At 12:20 p.m. on July 2nd, a 55-year-old Wicker Park man was arrested in the 800 block of North Michigan for “aggressive panhandling” while in possession of a Divvy bike that he claimed to own. Police checked with Divvy and learned that the bike had been reported stolen.

• At 10:30 a.m. on July 3rd, a 26-year-old South Side man was arrested in the first block of West Chicago for riding a stolen Divvy bike on the sidewalk.

• At 12:15 p.m. on July 6th, a 23-year-old Chicago Lawn man was arrested in the 300 block of West Chicago for riding a stolen Divvy bike on the sidewalk. The man allegedly told police, “the bike isn’t mine. I picked it up down the road.”

• At 12:20 p.m. on July 6th, a 25-year-old South Shore man was arrested as he rode a stolen Divvy bike in the 800 block of North State. The man told officers that “someone” gave the bike to him several days earlier. The accused man is a twice-convicted robbery offender who’s currently on parole.

All four arrestees have each been charged with theft of lost or mislaid property, according to court records. They were each freed on recognizance bonds.

Trophy Case

A police department source provided a link to one Facebook page where apparently-stolen Divvy bikes are seen lined up for trophy photos.

The image seen here, taken from the page of a man who lives in the Old Town neighborhood, shows ten Divvies posed on the street. The picture has been shared 70 times.

“? Dey gon start getting on y’all ass fa dem??” said one comment.

“They be trying But They can’t It’s to many of us???‍♂️” the poster replied.

“Swiper No Swiping????‍♀️” said another fan.

“Hot bikes??”

“Damn near the whole rack”

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About CWBChicago 4275 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com