By Guy Still

Minneapolis Bike Auctions

Every year the city of Minneapolis recovers hundreds of unclaimed bicycles around the city. The bikes may have been stolen and later abandoned, illegally secured, or simply forgotten about. After police recover the bicycle, and a certain amount of time has lapsed, it is put up for auction.

This year the Minneapolis Police Department is holding four bicycle auctions, with the next one coming up in just days on June 9. Typically, these auctions will have more than 100 bicycles up for grabs to the highest bidder. Entry to the auctions is free but with 100-200 bidders the competition could be fierce. (And, you can leave the plastic at home because only cash or local checks are accepted.)

(credit: Minneapolis Police Department)

(credit: Minneapolis Police Department)

The average price of an auctioned bicycle is $50, according to Minneapolis Police spokesperson John Elder. They can go for as little as $5, while high end two-wheelers can sell for hundreds of bucks. Viewing begins at 4pm on auction day, with the bidding starting at 6pm. A complete list of bikes being sold for each auction can be found here, with pictures being posted two days prior to the auction. The list of bikes for the upcoming auction includes a mix of department store and bike shop quality rides. Proceeds from the auction pay for the auctioneer, with the remainder going into the police general fund.

Other local departments auction off bicycles through websites such as K-BID and Property Room.

Protecting Your Bicycle

(credit: CBS)

Locked Bikes (credit: CBS)

To ensure that your bicycle doesn’t end up stolen or in a police auction, the most important thing you can do is to lock it up. It’s always best to live by the adage: Get a $100 lock and a $50 bike. Wimpy cable locks are easily cut and only advisable for quick stops. Otherwise, utilize a quality U-lock. Some even come with guarantees against theft.

If your bike does disappear call 311 and file a police report. You improve your chances of getting your bike back if you can provide the serial number. (That is usually found on the underside of the bicycle near where your crank arms meet.)

Bike Serial Numbers (credit: CBS)

Bike Serial Numbers (credit: CBS)

Every 24 hours Minneapolis Police investigators compare the serial numbers and descriptions of bikes reported stolen to those entered into the Automated Pawn System. Pawn shops are required to hold bikes for a period before they can sell them.

Former WCCO-TV reporter Mike Binkley got his bike back after police investigators got a hit on a possible match to his stolen bike at a local pawn shop. He filed a report to police, including a description and serial number. Police went to the pawn shop and were able to determine the bike was Mr. Binkley’s and returned it to its rightful owner.

Police recommend taking some digital photos of your bicycle, including the serial number. That way you have something to provide police if you are unfortunate enough to have your wheels purloined.

Also, it is important to know where you can and cannot legally park your bicycle, lest a city employee confiscates it. According to the city of Minneapolis, “legal locations include bike racks, sign posts, and multi-space parking meter sign posts. Illegal locations include trees, light posts, traffic signal poles, and handrails.”