Monday, December 21, 2015
There are so many Citi Bikes being stolen that the NYPD and the company that provides the vehicles are trying to figure out how to lower their value so that the thefts would be downgraded from felonies to misdemeanors, sources tell The Post.
The distinction is a significant one for cops because only felonies are included in the NYPD’s CompStat figures, which track seven major crime categories.
“It’s highly unethical and raises questions of fairness,” a law enforcement source said of the push to cut the bikes’ value.
“Citi Bike has a multimillion-dollar contract with the city, so of course they’re going to work with the police department,” the source added, but “this sends a bad message to the everyday police officer who is trying to evaluate criminal charges in a fair manner.”
The push comes as Citi Bike thefts have skyrocketed in the past year, with 476 reported stolen as of Friday, up from just 251 last year, according to NYPD data.
The bikes’ current listed value is $1,200 apiece, meaning they are recorded by the NYPD as felony grand larcenies. Thefts under $1,000 are considered misdemeanor petit larcenies.
NYPD brass have an added incentive to change the thefts to misdemeanors: The move would free up police resources because squads focused on felony cases would no longer be assigned to chase down the bikes, sources said.
And Citi Bike would benefit, too. The company would get its bikes back faster once they’re found, because felony cases can drag out longer, leaving the cycles locked up in evidence rooms.
There’s been no change yet, sources said. But Citi Bike is now playing with the numbers — considering things such as separating material costs from other expenses such as the manpower that went into building the bike — to try to decrease the bicycles’ listed value.
Asked about the issue, a senior NYPD official acknowledged Friday that “we’ve had meetings with them to discuss how they price their bikes in an attempt to determine the valuation of their bikes.
“It was unclear what the valuation is, and the crime category charge is based on the valuation of the property,” the official said.
But the official insisted it will remain up to Citi Bike to figure the value.
“The NYPD cannot establish the price of a bike,” the official said. “The ball is in Citi Bike’s court.”
Manhattan is the borough with the most Citi Bike thefts. The other borough with the most docking stations — and likewise the most thefts — is Brooklyn.