After my bike was stolen last week, I walked to work and then called the cops from my office. I was told I would need to call back from the scene of the crime, since an officer would need to come by to file the report. Can’t be done over the phone. I would need to call when I had a block of time free to wait for the officer.

I called back again a couple days later when I figured I could afford to stay home for a few hours if need be. This time I was asked if I had proof of ownership for the bike. I allowed that I could probably dig something up. I was told to call back when I had it.

When I bought my new bike, I asked the dealer if they had any record of my previous purchase. They hunted around and printed out a receipt for me.

I called the police again. This time I was asked if I had the serial number for the bike. “What? I need the serial number? Absolutely, I was told. Can’t file the report without it.

I got back in touch with the bicycle shop and asked if they could chase down the serial number. They did, and they got it to me this morning.

So today I called the police for the fourth time.

I was asked when the bike was stolen.

“Last Sunday,” I said.

The operator was incredulous: “And you’re just calling now?”

She took my basic information and said I’d get a return call from an officer.

It didn’t take long. The officer called me and took more detailed information for the report. Of course he asked when it was stolen, and when I told him, he was amazed. “And you’re just calling now?”

He didn’t ask for the serial number.

He didn’t ask for proof of ownership.

It was all done over the phone; he didn’t need to come by the house.


He did give me the report number, which my insurance adjuster wants. Oddly enough, when Xy filed a claim for her stolen bike, they never asked for a police report.

Now, it might sound as if I’m complaining about our messed-up law enforcement system. But I’m not, and let me explain why. Xy got a traffic ticket this summer. I tried to pay it on-line — no-go. I tried to call the informational number — no-go. I got an alternate number — no-go. So Xy shows up at the traffic court on the deadline day, only to find that location has not re-opened post-Katrina, despite what it says on the ticket itself. (But after all, the ticket pointed us to the website and the phone line.) So Xy goes to the alternate traffic court in Algiers the next day, busts her ass to get there five minutes before closing, falls down in her mad scramble to get there — she’s covered in dirt — she’s bleeding — and surprise! Traffic court shut down half an hour early, just for the hell of it. She’s stunned. She’s practically going into shock. Fortunately someone saw her and took pity on her (she’s not shy about playing the “public school teacher” card) and voided the ticket.

Yes, the system is messed up, but it cuts both ways.

  1. some of those fancy bike locks will warranty the cost of the Bike. Yes, police should be able to take a report over the phone, they should be able to do so in car accidents where no one was hurt as well. We waste a lot of time an money on frivious things when they could be doing more important work.

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