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Area police departments have many bicycles in storage. Bay Village Sgt. Jay Elish is seen with some of the 50 bicycles the department has and will donate to nonprofits if they are not claimed.

Empty bicycle racks in stores ranging from independents to big box stores have made bicycles a hot commodity in this summer of not-much-organized sports. There is one place where bicycles are plentiful: area police departments.

Together, police departments have hundreds of recovered or abandoned bicycles in storage and garages, selling them or donating them to area charities after a waiting period ranging from three months to a year.

“It’s really a shame, a lot of these are really beautiful bikes,” said Sgt. Jay Elish of the Bay Village Police Department as he gestured toward the 50 bicycles the department has stored, many in good condition. Some seem almost new.

“Many of them are mountain bikes nowadays,” Elish said. “We don’t see a lot of 10-speeds or other types of bicycles anymore.”

Bay police will hold the bicycles for a year, then donate them to the Village Bicycle Cooperative, which also gets bikes from the Westlake Police Department. Bob Piccirilli, president of the cooperative, said it appreciates the police departments’ donations, and makes needed repairs before selling the bikes. Proceeds are used to fund the group’s bicycle safety programs. The group also donates bicycles to needy children. The next sale at the co-op, 303 Cahoon Road, is 6 p.m. today. Check the calendar at www.villagebicycle.org for future sale times.

As of June 25, Westlake had recovered five abandoned bikes, said Capt. Jerry Vogel.

“This is pretty usual — maybe a bit low due to the stay-at-home orders — as we probably recover 10-20 bikes a year,” Vogel said.

Westlake residents can register their bicycles for free at the police department, Vogel said. They receive a license sticker and the department keeps the model and serial numbers on file.

Bay Village and Westlake have only had two reports each of stolen bicycles this year.

“Sometimes a kid will just want to get from point A to point B, see a bike, use it to get to where he wants to go and then leave it,” Elish said.

Avon Police Capt. Larry Fischbach estimated the department has 15 bicycles and said it will keep them for three months.

“There are most likely other bikes that are taken or lost that don’t get reported,” Fischbach said. ”You would think people would want to get a nice bike back, but some people don’t do that.”

Avon Lake has about 15 bicycles and also will hold them for three months, said Sgt. Reed Reikowski. North Ridgeville has recovered six bikes this year, said Capt. Kevin Jones. All three departments donate the bicycles to Lorain County nonprofits.

North Olmsted Police Chief Bob Wagner said the department has about 15 bicycles in storage and will keep them for about a year. Unclaimed bikes are donated to the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op,which has online sales at ohiocitycycles.org. North Olmsted donated about 25 bikes last year.

Sheffield Village has three bicycles stored, said Lt. Daren Ketchum. Bikes unclaimed after three months will be sold, he said.

In Rocky River, three bicycles were found between May 1 and June 23. When Rocky River officers find an abandoned bike, they run the serial number through the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) to see if it was reported stolen, said Lt. George Lichman. If it was, the department will return it to its owner. Otherwise, police enter it into the computer system as recovered property and put it in storage. The city periodically auctions unneeded or recovered property, including bicycles, Lichman said.

Fairview Park has 26 bicycles in storage waiting to be sold. City officials delayed the sale this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Cleveland Metroparks holds abandoned bicycles for six months then posts a legal notice in the newspaper to try to find the owner. After 30 days, they dispose of the bike, said Metroparks spokesman Jeff Tolman. Most bicycles abandoned in the parks are unrideable and unrepairable, Tolman said. Bicycles in good condition are donated.

In Lakewood, the department has about 50 bicycles, said Capt. Leslie Wilkins. If the bicycles are deemed to be worth more than $20, they are sold on propertyroom.com. Those worth less are scrapped, sometimes bringing the department a small amount of money, Wilkins said.

Contact this reporter at assoceditor@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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