Bikes being brought out of the garage. Photo by Ali Mohammed

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that police seized the bicycles. In fact, they were hauled away by their owner, and police only ran the serial numbers on the bicycles to determine if any had been reported stolen, which they had not.  

Neighbors of a building on Folsom Street near 24th Street were baffled by the sheer number of bicycles pulled out of a garage on the block on Tuesday.

At least one truckload of bicycles and bike parts was hauled away from a multifamily building — workers at two nearby businesses said the bikes numbered in the hundreds.

SFPD Public Information Officer Grace Gatpandan said officers had been called to the scene to respond to a civil dispute between the owner of the bicycles and the owner of the building where they had been stored. Police checked the serial numbers of all of the bicycles, and found that none had been reported stolen.

The owner of the bicycles then transported them away for storage.

A photo of one truck piled with bikes in the driveway to the building circulated on Reddit after the incident.

William Velez, who works at Sidewalk Juice next door to the building where the bikes were housed, said the activity went on for hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He said notice had been posted some two days in advance of the seizure, and that someone may have been living in the garage.

A visiting cyclist who arrived at the building while this reporter was knocking on doors said he knew nothing about any police activity or bicycles at the building. A resident of the building said he’d been at work and was also unfamiliar with what had happened.

“It was crazy,” said Ali Mohammed, who lives nearby and works at the corner store across from the building — he watched as more and more bikes were pulled from the garage. He said it took hours for them all to be removed.

Gatpandan emphasized the importance of registering bicycles by serial number so that, if they do get stolen, they can be returned to their rightful owners.

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  1. This guy is clearly a criminal, and supports the vagrants (“homeless”) thief rings — you know, those tents with the junkies and all those nice bikes?

    Its easy to change the serial number, and then again, how many people register their bike with the SFPD, it’s not like they are going to go out and look for your bike.

    The mission is completely lawless.

  2. Laura, thanks for reporting on this. As someone who has had a bike stolen in this immediate area, I would like to know more about where to find and search these bikes. Any ideas? Can you do a follow-up article? Unfortunately, I’m sure many ML readers are in the same situation.

    1. Hi Mark,
      Since, as it turns out, SFPD was not actually taking the bikes but rather there to respond to a civil dispute, there is no way to check with them for stolen bikes related to this particular incident. Unfortunately the best measure to take against bike theft must be done before the bike is stolen, and that’s knowing the serial number and then reporting the bike stolen with reference to the the serial number.
      In this case the serial numbers were checked by police but the person who ostensibly owned the bikes ended up taking them away for storage elsewhere.

    2. We had a bike stolen outside the Philz (across the street) last year and we couldn’t report it stolen because it didn’t have a serial number. It wasn’t a fancy bike (welded together old fixie) but had huge sentimental value. If anyone knows where these bikes went, we would be so grateful. We’d pay to have it returned to us!

  3. As someone who had their bike recently stolen and filed a police report – I wonder if there is any way for the original owners of these bikes back if they were in fact stolen?

    Should bike owners contact the SFPD?

    Curious. My bike was stolen in Oakland but if it ended up here, I’d like it back.

    1. Turns out, you should not contact SFPD because the bikes actually were not taken by SFPD. They were transported away by the owner – SFPD was there checking serial numbers, not seizing the bikes.