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How to deal with San Diego's Moped thieves

Never leave in apartment building gated parking garage

Diana in City Heights found a teal-colored Vespa moped tossed into a nearby canyon.
Diana in City Heights found a teal-colored Vespa moped tossed into a nearby canyon.

San Diegans are switching to mopeds and motorcycles for transport to work to deal with California's highest gas prices in the U.S. and limited street parking throughout the county. But as more locals purchase or lease two-wheeled motorized vehicles, some bike thieves have switched up and are capitalizing on the new moped and scooter trend.

On the night of October 14, someone "jammed" a screwdriver "in the ignition" of Geena Benson's Pico Tiger electric moped parked at her apartment complex by downtown San Diego. The thief stole the moped.

"I filed a police report Saturday (October 15) morning," Benson said on TikTok.

(I reached out to Benson days before this article went to print, and while she agreed to a San Diego Reader interview, she failed to respond before this article went to print.)

Someone from Lambretta Works posted on San Diego Scooterist about a stolen blue and yellow colored moped.

She continued on TikTok. "I just happened to be driving through (on October 16) and saw the tarp," she explained in the caption underneath a video she filmed on a street that appeared to be in Logan Heights. "I think I may have found it because that's like, literally, the silhouette of it."

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The TikTok video quickly garnered over 700,000 views after TikTok users shared it over 80 times — it went viral with over 800 comments, many of which praised Benson's bravery. One TikTok user noted: "Lmao, I seen 12th [a]nd Imperial and knew immediately."

"I just happened to be driving through on October 16 and saw the tarp."

"And so I'm waiting for the cops to come and unveil my fucking moped by taking the tarp off," Benson continued on the video as she and her friend sat in a vehicle. "It's like 30 minutes, and there's like three to four people in that tent, so I'm afraid to get out and go and unveil it. But I'm pretty sure that's my moped."

The alleged moped, at this point, was covered with an off-white and dirty cover parked next to a red-colored bike. Both two-wheelers nestled next to a makeshift shelter covered with a blue tarp and butted up against a fence. The Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel on Park Boulevard towered at a distance in the background.

On the 53-second TikTok video, a photo followed, with embedded text which reads, "I waited all day for cops to arrive to take this tarp off." Then the video cuts to the next scene when "the police finally came the next morning (October 17)," Benson said.

"The police finally came the next morning (October 17)."

Her sleuthing and waiting paid off as the police removed the cover. It was indeed her moped with a zebra-striped design. Based on the follow-up photos, there were four police officers on the scene, and one police officer was placing a person in handcuffs.

"Vehicle theft data, provided by the National Crime Information Center .... indicates over 745,000 vehicles have been stolen in the first three quarters of 2022; over 250,000 were reported to law enforcement since the end of June," reported the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in a November 2 article. The bureau added that the staggering numbers are an increase of 24 percent compared to this same time in 2019.

A moped or scooter is considered a motorcycle type of vehicle that generally has a gas-powered engine size of 50cc to 650cc. However, electric motors are replacing gas-powered engines.

[California leads][4] the nation with 9,345 stolen motorcycles, including street bikes, dirt bikes, and mopeds or scooters, adds the NICB in a previous report.

[4]https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/protect-your-ride-motorcycle-thefts-are-rise-second-year-row

Many of those moped thefts are right here in San Diego County.

In September, "SOMEONE STOLE MY SCOOTER OFF MEADE AND 36th! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU SEE IT," posted a Normal Heights neighbor in a frantic plea on the NextDoor app. The victim explained that it was a BMS Motorsport Chelsea "that looks like a 60’s Vespa but is plastic. [And] there’s a sticker of a girl on the side, and the license plate frame is barbed wire. On the side, it says “El 150” in sticker badges."

No updates were made on the thread, but another victim, from University Heights, commented, "We had ours stolen a while ago, too; it came up in Chula Vista and had to pay almost $500 to get out of impound. Make sure to file a police report that it’s stolen but also drive around sketchy areas, especially around the encampments off the freeways."

On August 18, at least two thieves stole two electric Westcoast scooters in town. The victim posted photos on the Stolen Bike San Diego Facebook page and said, "One was pink and white, and the other one was red. A police report has been filed."

On local bike theft forums, stolen electric bike reports are rampant. Many confuse electric bikes, which resemble a bike, and electric mopeds or electric scooters, which resemble a motorcycle, including mopeds and scooters. Many electric mopeds and scooters, most made in China, resemble the classic Vespa design.

In May, Diana in Azalea Park in City Heights found a teal-colored "Vespa" moped tossed into a nearby canyon. She posted a PSA with a photo of the moped on the NextDoor app, "Did someone recently get their moped stolen? My crew and I found it! If you know who's this is, please let them know! We can haul it out of the canyon." The community rallied together and found the victim and was reunited with the moped.

In March, someone from Lambretta Works, Inc., a local moped company, posted on San Diego Scooterist about a stolen blue and yellow colored moped. In February, a City Heights resident posted on NextDoor, "My 2008 Buddy Genuine moped was stolen ..... I’m devastated it was a gift from my boyfriend to help me travel to work."

And as victims post about their stolen mopeds or scooters online, so do former motorcycle and moped thieves, as seen on Reddit.

One person advised: "Never, ever .... leave your bike outside at an apartment complex. Especially one with a gated parking garage. The gated parking garage in a mid to high-rise apartment building in the nice part of a large city is the number one place for bike thieves to go 'shopping.'"

And for protecting your scooter or moped — "As far as passive devices go, I like the NYC Fughetaboutit chain/lock from Kryptonite, the thicker of the two. It needs to go through something like a braced swingarm whenever possible. If you absolutely have to put it through a wheel, put it through the rear wheel. It takes much longer to swap than the front wheel."

He continued about the possibility of victims who are prone to be targeted again: "Also, if you park outside of an apartment and your bike gets stolen, rent a fucking garage or self-storage unit nearby to use as a garage. The thief is just going to wait a couple of weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike, the same thing applies. Move it; they will be back."

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Diana in City Heights found a teal-colored Vespa moped tossed into a nearby canyon.
Diana in City Heights found a teal-colored Vespa moped tossed into a nearby canyon.

San Diegans are switching to mopeds and motorcycles for transport to work to deal with California's highest gas prices in the U.S. and limited street parking throughout the county. But as more locals purchase or lease two-wheeled motorized vehicles, some bike thieves have switched up and are capitalizing on the new moped and scooter trend.

On the night of October 14, someone "jammed" a screwdriver "in the ignition" of Geena Benson's Pico Tiger electric moped parked at her apartment complex by downtown San Diego. The thief stole the moped.

"I filed a police report Saturday (October 15) morning," Benson said on TikTok.

(I reached out to Benson days before this article went to print, and while she agreed to a San Diego Reader interview, she failed to respond before this article went to print.)

Someone from Lambretta Works posted on San Diego Scooterist about a stolen blue and yellow colored moped.

She continued on TikTok. "I just happened to be driving through (on October 16) and saw the tarp," she explained in the caption underneath a video she filmed on a street that appeared to be in Logan Heights. "I think I may have found it because that's like, literally, the silhouette of it."

Sponsored
Sponsored

The TikTok video quickly garnered over 700,000 views after TikTok users shared it over 80 times — it went viral with over 800 comments, many of which praised Benson's bravery. One TikTok user noted: "Lmao, I seen 12th [a]nd Imperial and knew immediately."

"I just happened to be driving through on October 16 and saw the tarp."

"And so I'm waiting for the cops to come and unveil my fucking moped by taking the tarp off," Benson continued on the video as she and her friend sat in a vehicle. "It's like 30 minutes, and there's like three to four people in that tent, so I'm afraid to get out and go and unveil it. But I'm pretty sure that's my moped."

The alleged moped, at this point, was covered with an off-white and dirty cover parked next to a red-colored bike. Both two-wheelers nestled next to a makeshift shelter covered with a blue tarp and butted up against a fence. The Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel on Park Boulevard towered at a distance in the background.

On the 53-second TikTok video, a photo followed, with embedded text which reads, "I waited all day for cops to arrive to take this tarp off." Then the video cuts to the next scene when "the police finally came the next morning (October 17)," Benson said.

"The police finally came the next morning (October 17)."

Her sleuthing and waiting paid off as the police removed the cover. It was indeed her moped with a zebra-striped design. Based on the follow-up photos, there were four police officers on the scene, and one police officer was placing a person in handcuffs.

"Vehicle theft data, provided by the National Crime Information Center .... indicates over 745,000 vehicles have been stolen in the first three quarters of 2022; over 250,000 were reported to law enforcement since the end of June," reported the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in a November 2 article. The bureau added that the staggering numbers are an increase of 24 percent compared to this same time in 2019.

A moped or scooter is considered a motorcycle type of vehicle that generally has a gas-powered engine size of 50cc to 650cc. However, electric motors are replacing gas-powered engines.

[California leads][4] the nation with 9,345 stolen motorcycles, including street bikes, dirt bikes, and mopeds or scooters, adds the NICB in a previous report.

[4]https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/protect-your-ride-motorcycle-thefts-are-rise-second-year-row

Many of those moped thefts are right here in San Diego County.

In September, "SOMEONE STOLE MY SCOOTER OFF MEADE AND 36th! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU SEE IT," posted a Normal Heights neighbor in a frantic plea on the NextDoor app. The victim explained that it was a BMS Motorsport Chelsea "that looks like a 60’s Vespa but is plastic. [And] there’s a sticker of a girl on the side, and the license plate frame is barbed wire. On the side, it says “El 150” in sticker badges."

No updates were made on the thread, but another victim, from University Heights, commented, "We had ours stolen a while ago, too; it came up in Chula Vista and had to pay almost $500 to get out of impound. Make sure to file a police report that it’s stolen but also drive around sketchy areas, especially around the encampments off the freeways."

On August 18, at least two thieves stole two electric Westcoast scooters in town. The victim posted photos on the Stolen Bike San Diego Facebook page and said, "One was pink and white, and the other one was red. A police report has been filed."

On local bike theft forums, stolen electric bike reports are rampant. Many confuse electric bikes, which resemble a bike, and electric mopeds or electric scooters, which resemble a motorcycle, including mopeds and scooters. Many electric mopeds and scooters, most made in China, resemble the classic Vespa design.

In May, Diana in Azalea Park in City Heights found a teal-colored "Vespa" moped tossed into a nearby canyon. She posted a PSA with a photo of the moped on the NextDoor app, "Did someone recently get their moped stolen? My crew and I found it! If you know who's this is, please let them know! We can haul it out of the canyon." The community rallied together and found the victim and was reunited with the moped.

In March, someone from Lambretta Works, Inc., a local moped company, posted on San Diego Scooterist about a stolen blue and yellow colored moped. In February, a City Heights resident posted on NextDoor, "My 2008 Buddy Genuine moped was stolen ..... I’m devastated it was a gift from my boyfriend to help me travel to work."

And as victims post about their stolen mopeds or scooters online, so do former motorcycle and moped thieves, as seen on Reddit.

One person advised: "Never, ever .... leave your bike outside at an apartment complex. Especially one with a gated parking garage. The gated parking garage in a mid to high-rise apartment building in the nice part of a large city is the number one place for bike thieves to go 'shopping.'"

And for protecting your scooter or moped — "As far as passive devices go, I like the NYC Fughetaboutit chain/lock from Kryptonite, the thicker of the two. It needs to go through something like a braced swingarm whenever possible. If you absolutely have to put it through a wheel, put it through the rear wheel. It takes much longer to swap than the front wheel."

He continued about the possibility of victims who are prone to be targeted again: "Also, if you park outside of an apartment and your bike gets stolen, rent a fucking garage or self-storage unit nearby to use as a garage. The thief is just going to wait a couple of weeks for insurance to replace your bike and come back to check. If someone tries and fails to get your bike, the same thing applies. Move it; they will be back."

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