Bicycle Bandits Should Avoid Motor Vehicles

Cyclists Riding Between Busses

Surprisingly, the use of a bicycle as a getaway vehicle is on the rise. This is probably because robbers can’t flee quickly enough on foot, and a motor vehicle would be too easy to identify.

A bicycle provides the best of both worlds: it moves faster than anyone could run and it is difficult to identify. A well masked robber could jump onto a waiting bicycle and make it out of the sight of witnesses in a matter of minutes.

And, of course, bicycles can be ridden across grassy areas and onto walkways and sidewalks. A motor vehicle would not be able to follow the thief.

One recent high profile case in New York featured “a flurry of armed robberies in Westchester and Putnam counties.” Banks, gas stations and convenience stores were all struck.

According to an article on this topic, “Several of the highest profile cases were closed by arrests in Rye, Eastchester and in Dutchess County, where the so-called ‘bicycle bandit’ confessed Thursday to 15 robberies in four counties. Those armed robberies included seven gas stations and stores in Peekskill, Ossining, Mount Kisco, Scarsdale and Eastchester in Westchester County as well as Deli Land in Kent, Putnam County.”

The robber used a BB gun for a weapon and fled on a black BMX bicycle. He wasn’t however caught on the bicycle, as one might expect. The arrest was described as follows:

“He was pulled over in a red Ford pickup by a state trooper for a malfunctioning tail light. The trooper found a black BMX bike in the pickup’s bed and a black BB gun inside. In each robbery, the suspect covered his face with a black scarf and wore gloves with a black ‘X’ on the back.”

While in the process of committing these crimes, the suspect was draped in black clothing. A scarf covered his face and gloves with a black “x” covered his hands. Even his bicycle was black.

Not only was he well disguised, but a black bicycle is generally the most difficult to distinguish. Bikes with fancy paint jobs stand out and are often distinct from other bikes, even those of the same brand.

So, this thief did a great job of making himself unidentifiable as he was in the process of committing this string of robberies. Given the trouble he went to to make himself nondescript, one would think he would never get caught.

What gave him away? A malfunctioning tail light on his pickup truck. In other words, not maintaining his motor vehicle, which is always a high maintenance item, gave him away.

And safety items on a motor vehicle often draw the attention of police who will pull over and ticket anyone whose vehicle is deemed a hazard.

Had it not been for this truck, the suspect might still be robbing local businesses, fleeing on a bicycle to his heart’s content. A bicycle does not have to be maintained to any particular standard. And, police ignore bicycles unless the rider is violating the traffic laws, in which case he or she might get pulled over.

Stories like this should not encourage anyone to use a bicycle as a getaway vehicle. However, they do make it clear that there are many ways in which a bicycle is superior to a car.

Versatility, low maintenance and the fact that a bicycle can be ridden in plain view of many people, even off of the roads, and the rider still blends into the background and does not draw the kind of attention a motor vehicle does. A bicycle, as a quiet, unobtrusive vehicle makes for a more peaceful society, unburdened by the noise and smell of running motors. Let’s just hope that people use bicycles to do good, and don’t tarnish their reputation by using them to get away with crime.

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