The city too busy to care?

This video from filmmaker Casey Neistat is disheartening. Neistat locked up his bike in several different locations in NYC, then proceeded to steal it to see if he would be stopped or questioned by a bystander. No spoilers, but let’s just say the results were not what bike owners would like to see.

Why do you think that people are so reluctant to step in? What would you do if you saw a bike getting stolen?

 

  • Brittany

    This is a pretty depressing reality. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.lovelybicycle.com/ Lovely Bicycle!

    It does not surprise me that NYC bystanders did not want to interfere with a theft in progress. No one wants to get shot or beaten on the head with a U-Lock. But it would have been nice if bystanders discretely called the police.

  • LaurenLaurenRuns

    Good reminder.  

  • Erica Satifka

    I definitely wouldn’t interfere, any more than I would with someone stealing a car or breaking into a house. Call me heartless, but I don’t want to get shot! I’d like to think I’d call the police though, after getting a safe distance away… but by the time I did, the bike would probably be gone. But I don’t think you can blame people for preferring their own safety over protecting some stranger’s property.

    • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

      I think it’s a pretty big leap to assume that someone called out on stealing a bicycle would suddenly whip out a gun and open fire in any of those heavily trafficked areas. To me, the personal threat involved here seems pretty minimal.

      • Illiniwu

        i disagree.  it wouldn’t be a huge leap to say that a thief might stop sawing for a second to hit you with a saw or punch you.  i would call the police and if there were people around i might be comfortable telling the thief i’m calling the police.  but that’s highly unlikely.  more likely i would duck into a store to call the police.  

        • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

          Well yes. I’m not suggesting anyone get within arm’s reach of this person. Or even confront them in a threatening way, since as others have pointed out, it is possible the person is the bike’s owner. But even engaging them in a non-threatening way–saying something like, hey man, having trouble with your u-lock?–could be enough to dissuade a casual thief. And discreetly calling the police is a completely safe alternative. Whether the police respond is not really the issue. Or rather, it is a different issue.

        • http://letsgorideabike.com LGRAB

          Well yes. I’m not suggesting anyone get within arm’s reach of this person. Or even confront them in a threatening way, since as others have pointed out, it is possible the person is the bike’s owner. But even engaging them in a non-threatening way–saying something like, hey man, having trouble with your u-lock?–could be enough to dissuade a casual thief. And discreetly calling the police is a completely safe alternative. Whether the police respond is not really the issue. Or rather, it is a different issue.

  • http://www.bikegurus.com/ Justin Moore

    I don’t know what bothers me more.  The people that stare directly at the “thief” and do nothing or the zombies talking on their cell phones that appear to be oblivious to everything around them.

  • http://letsgorideabike.com/blog Dottie

    I don’t think saying something puts personal safety at risk and I think people use that as an excuse too often so they don’t have to bother.  It would be easy to call out to the thief from a safe distance, even from across the street, and the attention would probably be enough for him to run off.  I would want someone to say something if it were my bike, so I would do the same.  If anything, I would be more worried about misreading the situation and wrongly accusing someone of stealing.

  • Phoebe

    Actually, what I wondered when I saw this video was how far away the cameraman was and how obvious was it that he was being filmed?  I would definitely not interfere if I noticed the camera because I would assume there was a reason for it (as there was).  I also probably wouldn’t have said anything because neither guy looked particularly convincing as a criminal, and because they were in such conspicuous places — I would assume they were “stealing” their own bike.  My boyfriend once had to hacksaw his own bike free after losing the key, for instance.  So I kind of felt like the whole setup — “hey, look at me! I’m stealing this bike!” — worked against him in achieving his goal.

    • http://yaybeth.blogspot.com/ Beth

      That was my reaction – and in fact, my reaction to the few of these bike-stealing experiments I’ve seen: these guys don’t act like criminals, they act like guys completely unworried about their actions, who WANT people to see them stealing the bike. That kind of body language affects people, I think. They didn’t try to hide what they were doing even a little bit. They walked down the street swinging giant bolt-cutters like it was the most natural thing in the world to be carrying. The guy was wearing a bright blue jacket – high visibility is a priority for bikers, not for criminals in the act of theft.

      If I saw this, I might say something, but I would absolutely not question it if the guy with the hacksaw said with a bright clean smile that this is his bike and he’d lost his key.

  • francis

    I’ve had numerous friends who have to saw off locks in downtown areas due to lost keys.  Also a few cases of residents sawing off locks on abandoned bikes locked to their building.  None were challenged.  I think a big part of it is the person looks like they own the bike / live in the area.  I would suspect that someone who is wearing a dark jacket and sagging baggy pants (if there ever was a type of clothing that one can’t bike in, it’d be sagging baggy pants!) the cops would be called in minutes.

  • http://twitter.com/bikeyourlife Bike Your Life Green

    Why am I not shocked?  Especially by the people on their phones totally oblivious.  I’m torn.  I would probably call the police, but not interfere personally.  But really,  would the police even bother to show up?  Call me a skeptic, but I doubt it would be given any kind of priority and the crime would be over before they arrived (possibly hours/days later).  I *might* shout  from across the street, but I kinda doubt it since that’s out of my character.  Sure, it would be nice if someone stood up for my bike, but I wouldn’t expect them to do anything that made them feel unsafe, insecure, or uneasy.

  • Zapusti

    For all the people saying that these guys don’t “look” like criminals, tell me: exactly what DO criminals look like?

    • http://letsgorideabike.com/blog Dottie

      That’s a very good question.  Especially in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, people should take time to examine where such assumptions come from and reconsider whether they are appropriate.

    • http://letsgorideabike.com/blog Dottie

      That’s a very good question.  Especially in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, people should take time to examine where such assumptions come from and reconsider whether they are appropriate.