About a month ago, our apartment was broken into and the thief got away with our camera (and almost a laptop.) Now, a thief has struck again. The missing goods this time?
Getting your bike stolen in China is almost a rite of passage. I couldn’t find any exact statistics for the entire country, but in 2009 nine million bikes were stolen in Beijing alone. (The city has 13 million bikes on the road.) In Chengdu, the 14thbiggest city, 2 million bikes were stolen in 2008 and that is after a big crackdown by the police.
We keep our bikes underneath the stairs to our apartment and as it is an enclosed, tucked away place we have always felt they were relatively safe. Our bikes are old, and rusty and hopelessly out of date. Plus, we always lock it, even when just run into a store and I had had it for a year without problem. In fact, we always joked that our bikes were too old that not even a thief would be interested.
I got on my bike this morning to go to class, but I wasn’t feeling the best so I stopped off at the school store to get some cough drops and a drink. I locked my bike and ran in, just as I have done dozens of times. The whole area was swarming with students going to class and I was in and out of the store in less than 3 minutes. That’s all it took.
People don’t get attached to their bikes because of the high rate of theft and I’ve even heard stories where people buy a new bike, then ask the dealer to smash and dent it to make it look less attractive.
The thieves steal them, then resell them often times to the poor suckers they took them from. In fact, my bike was stolen 200 feet from an on-campus bike guy and I immediately wondered if he had anything to do with it. (I walked by his place to check, but I didn’t see anything.) I’ve also heard that the campus security is in on the deal. They get a cut, or a pay off from the thieves to look the other way when it is happening. Or, if rumor is to be believed, they take the bikes themselves.
My bike and I did have one swan song ride last week together. It was a nice day and Ryan and I decided to take a bike ride that lasted several hours. We live in a small city, but we quickly discovered that the city limits are not that big, and buildings gave way to miles of bamboo forests, mountains and garden plots. It was very nice and I hope my bike enjoyed our last big ride together.
As an addendum to the apartment theft last month, it turns out the thief was caught in Hangzhou. The details are fuzzy but it appears they had some of the missing goods on him which is how they were able to verify who it was. We still lock our windows at night and hide the computer when we go out, but at least it looks like one thief got what he deserves.
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