Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said police stations had a deluge of phone calls Tuesday following reports of 88 stolen bicycles recovered as part of a raid.
If you think your stolen bike may be part of the recovery, here are some key things to know.
This will take a while
"Our property in evidence is currently in the process of being moved from this building to our new headquarters down the street at Dillon," said Rinaldo. "That is a very lengthy process. We're expecting that to take upwards to possibly two months. So this will fall in line with that move.
"Starting later today and tomorrow we will have officers and detectives come in and begin the process of cataloging each and every one of these bikes, looking for serial numbers, descriptions and putting those things into our computer system, which will then allow detectives in the various districts to begin to attempt to match up a stolen recovered bicycle with the owner."
If you've had a bike stolen and haven't reported it, do so
Not everyone reports a stolen bike, for several reasons. But to recover a stolen bike, officers need to know about it.
"Sometimes we find out that people have a bike stolen, and they don't report it simply because they left it unlocked in front of their house, or in front of the store. They come out, the bike's missing," Rinaldo said. "If that is the case, we ask that you go to your local police district and file a report."
Where are the stolen bikes from?
Police do not know that – they could be from the city or the suburbs, or a mix.
"Once they are cataloged and entered in the police report system, that's a countywide system," Rinaldo said. "As those connections are made, different law enforcement agencies will attempt to return them."
You'll need to be able to ID your bike
"In order to receive one of these bikes back, you will have to have some kind of identifying information," Rinaldo said, "whether it is a proof of purchase, a receipt, a serial number, a picture of the bicycle, something that will allow us to confirm that you are the rightful owner of the bike."
Bike owners, pedal to bikeindex.org
"We have encouraged – it's a program that's been around for a few years now – for people that own bicycles to go to www.bikeindex.org," Rinaldo said.
"It's a free service that allows you to register your bicycle into this national index. It's countrywide; it's an international website. So if you are a victim of a larceny of your bike, you can automatically keep all of your information cataloged there and it allows police departments to search those indexes in an attempt to reunite owners with their bicycles.
"I can't stress enough: No matter how little you might pay for the bike, maybe you bought the bike used and you paid $20 – go to that bike index and register the thing. It just makes our job easier and it allows us to return this stuff to their rightful owners."
"We will be going through all of our police reports in an attempt to match up the bicycles that we've recovered with the various larcenies. I would ask that the public be patient. This is going to be a very lengthy process, but the good news is we obviously put a bike ring out of operation and we recovered tens of thousands of dollars worth of these stolen bicycles."
What happens to unreturned bikes?
Rinaldo said the bikes will be kept for a minimum of 90 days.
"That's to allow people to come in and make a claim and recover their property. After a 90-day period, then the bikes are subject to auction.
"For anyone who has attended our action, the goal is to get rid of the bikes. It's very, very reasonable prices at the auctions; and for the most part, if you come down here it's pretty easy to walk away with a bike."