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Police release video of person snipping bike share brake cables

Screenshot of the suspect, from a surveillance video released by Seattle Police. Watch the full video below.

Seattle Police have released a surveillance video of a person in Sodo seen snipping bike share brake cables on more than one occasion, and they’re asking for the public’s help identifying the suspect.

For months, brake cables on bike share bike have been cut all over the city, posing a very serious safety hazard for users. If someone didn’t realize they had no brakes until they were already moving, they could be put in serious danger. Endangering the lives of random strangers is very disturbing behavior, and I hope the person in this video is identified and gets the help they need.

On top of that, snipping brake cables puts scores of bikes out of commission, making bike share less reliable for people just trying to get around town. It also costs companies a money to send workers all over town repairing the damage. Some bike share companies have been talking about hiding brake cables in future models.

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It’s not clear if the brake cable sabotage is the work on multiple people or just one prolific vandal. I hope it is just one person. Here’s the video:

More details from SPD:

Seattle police are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a man suspected of sabotaging brake lines on several bike-share bicycles in SODO.

Surveillance video shows the man walking up to several bikes parked at 4th Avenue and South Main Street around 11:45 PM on June 14th. He can be seen manipulating what appears to be a cutting tool around the bikes’ brakes before he walks out of frame.

Police also found surveillance photos from a month earlier, which appear to show the same man damaging a single bike’s brakes near 4th Avenue and Holgate. This incident also occurred in the late evening, around 11:15 PM.

Detectives are also investigating other similar cases in other parts of the city, but have not yet confirmed any linkage between the incidents.

If you recognize the man in the video or have any other information about this case, please contact South Precinct detectives at (206) 386-1855

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7 responses to “Police release video of person snipping bike share brake cables”

  1. Dylan

    I’ve seen some munted bikes downtown as well, so it’s not just Sodo.

  2. Joel

    Can the charges include attempted murder? This could certainly kill someone and this guy surely knows that. What if he was doing this to a car?

  3. Matthew Snyder

    About two weeks ago, at the Columbia City light rail station bike parking area (the one close to Edmunds), the Cannondale bike locked next to mine had been vandalized during the day. The brake and shifter cables and housing had been cut, and the thief then removed the faceplate from the stem and just walked off with the handlebar and (presumably nice) brifters. That’s like a 10-second job for a thief with some basic snippers and an allen wrench. I’m not saying the incidents are connected, just to be clear. I just hadn’t seen that type of theft/vandalism before, and immediately thought about the shared bikes with their cables cut. Maybe this is a regular problem and I’ve just been really lucky to not have experienced it… (?)

    I can’t really think of a good way of preventing this type of theft, unfortunately. It’s not that hard to lock up the frame, the wheels, the saddle. You can usually remove lights, luggage, accessories without too much trouble. But I can’t think of an easy way to protect your handlebar, shifters, brake levers.

    1. zzz

      Yes, this-

      Recently someone tried to steal the handlebars off my bike (locked up in a residential side yard) this exact way. Luckily they either forgot the wire cutters or got spooked and stopped before they cut the brake cables. So I found my bike with handlebars dangling in the morning.

      They did take the headset cap and spacers, which were of trivial value but annoying to have to replace.

    2. Gary

      Prevent handlebar theft, glue bb’s or ball bearings in the hole. It’s not that you can’t pry out the BB when you really need to, but it slows down a thief.

  4. Izaak

    I cannot see how this is only one or a few individuals. I commute from Ballard to Sodo daily and see cut cable share bikes the entire way along the route nearly every week. I think it goes along with locking the bikes in really obstructive locations as just a new tool to anger your fellow citizens. When I have time, I try to report the bikes as I see them (quite easy on the app) to help the providers establish if there are any patterns to the vandalization. This ($5 cable cut with in 2 seconds) seems to be a real vulnerability to these bike share systems that GPS and apps are going to have a hard time solving.

  5. Greggo

    What an evil jerk. Too bad the video didn’t get his face very well. Someone should stake out a few parked bikes with a “game cam”, ie, one of those battery powered IR cameras that hunters use to survey critters at night.

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