If your bike is stolen in Anchorage, the odds are good you won't see it again. Anchorage police say of the hundreds stolen each year, less than 20 percent are returned to their rightful owners.

Assembly member Christoper Constant said there's not a lot that police can do about stolen bikes when thieves have removed the serial numbers from them, with unclaimed bikes sometimes auctioned off to raise funds. Constant said it's a particular problem when police find hundreds of bikes littering homeless camps in Anchorage's woods and greenbelts.

"Because the current situation is, they walk in there, and you know those bikes are stolen," Constant said. "APD confronts them and they tell APD, 'Oh no, these are my bikes. I bought them from the auction.' And APD has no tools. They just have to accept that's the fact, even though any reasonable human being would recognize the fact that that is stolen property.'''

Constant plans to introduce an ordinance at Tuesday's Assembly meeting that would make it a crime to possess a bike that has had its serial number removed. It would allow police to assume the bike is stolen, seize it and fine the person who had it. The ordinance would make possessing an item where the serial number has been removed a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine that could be as high as $10,000.

APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad said if passed, the ordinance would give police another charging tool if the person responsible is caught. But Oistad said it wouldn't solve another of the department's problems, which is getting stolen items back to their rightful owners.

"People need to keep track of the serial numbers of everything they own. They have to have that list in more than one place," said Oistad.

Oistad said homeowners should make an itemized list of valuables that includes serial numbers, make, model and distinguishing marks. For valuable property that does not have a serial number, Oistad recommends taking a picture.

"Like a diamond ring for example, take a picture of it next to an item of a known size like a dime or a quarter so we can tell how big it is," she said.

Oistad said people can also use an etching tool to place identifiers on objects that don't have serial numbers. A driver's license number is a good identifier, but she warned against putting a Social Security number on an item.

Constant's proposed ordinance would also affect other items, such as construction tools or appliances, which have had their serial numbers removed. It should come up for a public Assembly hearing on Feb. 26.

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