PLATTSBURGH - The warm summer months are the perfect time to break out the bicycle and leave the car at home, get some fresh air and ride down one of the many bike paths Plattsburgh has to offer.
However, after a quick stop at the local mini-mart, you may come outside to find your bike gone without a trace.
"You may think you're only going into a store for a second, but that's all someone needs," said Lt. Kevin Riley of the Plattsburgh City Police Department.
According to Riley, the busiest time of year for bike theft is in the summer.
In 2008, 76 bikes were reported stolen in Plattsburgh, 50 of those bikes were reported missing between June and September.
Since June of this year, 32 bicycles have been reported missing to city police and currently there are 40 bikes impounded at the Pine Street police department. The bikes have either been found by city police or abandoned on private property.
The impounded bikes range from a hot pink bicycle with a blue bell on the handle bars to a black Orange County Choppers model bicycle.
The one thing each of the bikes have in common is in order for the owner to get it back, they must be able to prove ownership.
"Somebody can't just go back and say 'That's my bike' without any proof or documentation that they purchased the bike," said Riley. "Someone's best bet is if you get a book with proof of purchase of the bike or have the serial number of the bike."
Riley also suggests registering a bike with the police department, so if it ever ends up in impound, they can identify it.
"A lot of people don't know that we do this, but we have a bike registration program," he explained. "People can come down [to the police station] at anytime. We will take down all of their information on the bike and they can get their bike registered as long as they know their serial number. We then give them a sticker that we have record of at the front desk and that goes on the bike. If we ever find the bike we will then know who it belongs to."
Being smart about securing a bike is the best way to avoid having it stolen, said Riley.
Police advise locking up a bike to a sturdy, immovable object securely bolted to the ground and locking at least one tire with a secure lock.
"If [a bike thief sees] the bike unlocked, they are going to take it," said Riley. "If you see a bike locked up downtown you're probably not going to take a hack saw to the bike chain because that will draw attention to the thief."
According to Riley, a bike can be held at the city police station for three months to three years depending on the value. Unclaimed bikes are collected twice a year by The Christmas Bureau, a charitable organization whose sole purpose is to provide Christmas gifts for low-income families throughout Clinton County.
"We have 40 bikes in the back and we probably have a few months left of good weather," Riley said. "If you look again in October, we will probably [be] filled up back there."