The System is Broken – Fighting Crime in Tel Aviv

Anyone who has experienced traffic entering Tel Aviv in the mornings can attest to the fact that it is not enjoyable. As someone who works in Tel Aviv, I try to avoid the traffic at all costs. To help me avoid traffic, my dear wife bought me a folding bicycle as a present, which I take on the train and cycle from the train station to work or to meetings. Today I rode to a conference at a hotel in Tel Aviv from the train station, and locked my bike next to a bunch of other bikes at the hotel, and entered the conference.

At lunch time, I walked out of the hotel and saw that thieves had cut my lock and stolen my bicycle. After checking with the hotel’s security and understanding that no security cameras had recorded the theft, and after some encouragement from the hotel security staff, I went to the nearest police station to file a complaint.

After waiting a while in line, I filed the complaint and walked out of the Tel Aviv police station with a report of my complaint and a strong feeling that my bike would never be seen again. I continued down the road back in the direction of the hotel to return to the conference. After about 200 meters of walking, while imagining my next bike, I saw a folding bike chained to a pole across the street. Not believing my eyes, I jay-ran across the street, causing traffic to slow down to avoid hitting me.

It was indeed my bike, just missing the seat and the bolt that secured the seat, and the rather unique horn in the shape of a cat, whose squeaky sound resembled a “rubber ducky” and always seemed to amuse pedestrians and effectively encourage them to move them out of my way when I rode. The bicycle was secured to a pole with a large chain and lock, much stronger than the one that the thieves had broken earlier in the day.

After two calls to the police to request that they send officers from the police station down the road to break the lock, two officers arrived on a motorcycle. One officer got off the motorcycle while the other officer continued on his way. The officer that stayed with me grilled me to make sure that the bicycle was indeed mine. After telling him the story of how I got the bicycle and showing him a picture of me on my bicycle on my cellular phone, he was convinced and communicated to his partner by radio. The officer then explained that his partner was bringing something to open the lock, which I assumed to be a set of tools.

After a few minutes, the second officer returned. To my shock and surprise, he had the bicycle seat in his hand, and the bolt that held the seat in place. He then proceeded to open the lock with a key, and return the seat to its place. I thanked the officers and asked them where they got the key from, to which one of them replied, “I’ve been in the police for 17 years now,” avoiding my question. Unfortunately, he was not able to return my squeaky horn.

At first, while pedaling back to the conference, I was happy to have my bicycle back and amazed that I had found it. Shortly thereafter, I realized that if the police knew who the thief was, why did I have to find my bicycle to get it back? What would have happened had I taken a cab or bus from the police station, or had I walked back a different way? Would the thief have returned to unlock the bicycle and sell it?  If the police were able to retrieve the key, seat and bolt from the thief in about 15 minutes, why wasn’t the police able to put the thief behind bars, so that I and potentially hundreds of other victims of theft wouldn’t suffer?

It seems that something in this system is fishy.  Aren’t the police supposed to be preventing crime by bringing criminals to justice?

Oh yeah, one last question. If anyone knows where to get a new squeaky animal-shaped horn for my bicycle, please let me know. It will be my next bicycle-related purchase after a heavy lock.

About the Author
Husband, Father of 7, marathoner, unicyclist, patent attorney, home-brewer, scribe, photographer, ex-pat American, Israeli settling the land, attempted creative thinker and entrepreneur