Bikes 'disappearing like crazy' in Hillcrest

Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 21:34:28-05

Thieves are getting creative to break into parking garages amid a rash of bike thefts in Hillcrest.

At the Hillside Court Apartments, manager Blake Peterson says there has been a series of car break-ins and four bike thefts in a two-month span.

“They had a power tool and sawed their way through the metal garage pole. They took my bike and my boyfriend’s bike. I felt violated,” said Alice Hu.

“We kept getting complaints about the door being stuck. Turns out they were reaching their hand through the bars and breaking the laser beam that opens and closes the garage door,” said Peterson.

Peterson says the big clue came when managers found a piece of masking tape right on the sensor.

Since then, Peterson has cameras, more lighting, and keypad access for the elevator, along with metal mesh on the gate to prevent anyone from reaching in.

Peterson, who manages four other apartment complexes in Hillcrest, says bike thefts have spiked in the last six months.

“I think there's a bike theft racket going on,” said Peterson.

Feet away from the apartments, another manager says she's seen on two occasions, an old RV being loaded with new, pricey bikes by a group of four.

On the NextDoor app, neighbors say they've seen new bikes at what appears to be a nearby homeless encampment in Balboa Park.

We showed up and saw a scattering of belongings, including four bikes.

Police say it's not uncommon for bike thieves to be homeless, but say they haven't seen a spike in thefts in Hillcrest.