The Anchorage Assembly has passed an ordinance aimed at helping police target bike thefts, by criminalizing the possession of bicycles that appear to be stolen.

A unanimous Assembly vote at Tuesday’s meeting enacted member Chris Constant’s proposal, which would make it a municipal misdemeanor to possess a bicycle or several other types of items with obliterated or scratched-off serial numbers.

Constant says bike chop shops are a big problem in the Chester Creek Park area of Anchorage.

"It's a real tragedy to have a $3,000 bike stolen, spray-painted, and chopped apart and sent into who knows where, oblivion basically," said Constant.

Police and Constant have pointed to the frequent seizure of bikes from homeless camps in town, but a lack in corresponding arrests because the people possessing the bikes have said they were purchased from APD’s auctions of stolen bikes.

"People who are operating these chop shops, they make the statement and the claim that that bike is theirs," Constant said. "You can't prove otherwise unless someone has registered their bike."

APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad has said the ordinance leaves police with another problem — reuniting the owners of stolen property with goods seized by officers.

Many of the bikers on the trails Wednesday said they think this is a good idea to stop the chop shops.

"If you have a bike that doesn't have a serial number, it's like a gun that doesn't have a serial number," said Paul Swartzbart, biker. "That does indicate there's been some illegal activity at some point in the bike's history."

The ordinance also mandates that pawn shops must report bikes stolen if they come in without a serial number and if the seller can't prove it belongs to them.

Cassie Schirm and John Grobe contributed information to this story.

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