An item in the police blotter the other day caught my eye.
According to Lawrence police, an 18-year-old woman said she was sitting in her car in the parking lot at Campus Court at Naismith apartments, 1301 W. 24th St., when a man reportedly took her purse off her lap, then — get this — fled on a bicycle. Police searched the area, but could not find the man.
I was intrigued, naturally, because of the bike angle.
It’s not every day a bike is used (allegedly) in the execution of a crime. An extensive, exhaustive investigation (read: I did a couple of quick Google searches) turned up very few instances of bikes used in the commission of crimes nationally.
There were a few grab-and-goes, an assault here or battery there. I guess there was a bike-bound serial groper in Oregon; the guy would ride by women on a bike-and-hike path, especially women pushing strollers, and would grope them as he rode by.
I even found one instance of a ride-by shooting in California.
“Dude pedaled up, gun a-blazin’! It was terrible, man, pedaling and shooting and pedaling, legs and lead flying … man, it was awful.”
OK, so I made up the dialog, but the shooting was real, or at least alleged.
But for the most part, there wasn’t a lot of (alleged) crime by cyclists, or even folks on bikes.
Cyclists aren’t above breaking the law — every time one of us scofflaws jumps a red or runs a stop sign, we’re thumbing our nose at The Man — but we don’t, generally, make good criminals.
For one thing, we’re easy to pick out of a lineup …
“No. 5, please step forward. Are you sure that’s the one, ma’am?”
“Yes, sir, officer. I’ll never forget that Old Guys Who Get Fat in Winter jersey, the Lycra shorts, the diaper butt, the shaved legs and funny tan lines. Yes, sir, that’s him.”
And we make even worse convicts. Shaved legs, scrawny arms, diminutive frames and sunken chests don’t make good friends in the big house. Or, should I say, make TOO MANY friends in stir, if you know what I mean.
But more than anything there is this: Bikes make awful get-away vehicles.
They’re slow, easy to tip over, simple to stop. Though a burglar could haul a little jewelry, good luck carting off a purloined big-screen TV via bike. Did I mention they’re slow?
And despite that one ride-by shooting, I’d venture to guess bike gunplay is dicey at best.
I cannot think of a single crime that would be suited to cycling, except perhaps prostitution. Practitioners could cover more ground, and it would lend new meaning to the phrase “turning tricks.”
Still, last I heard our fair city’s pedaling perp still was at large.
At first I was worried he might reflect poorly on cyclists, but now I’m pretty sure he’s only giving (alleged) criminals a bad name.