SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— While smartphone thefts have been getting a lot of recent attention, three times as many bicycles are stolen in San Francisco every year as iPhones.

At a non-descript warehouse along San Francisco’s Waterfront, police store a lot of things you probably wouldn’t want to claim (for legal reasons or otherwise)— including all the evidence from weed grow operations.

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Inside the San Francisco Police Department property room, the smell of marijuana wafts through the air, and according to police Lt. Joe Cortes, 500 stolen or missing bikes sit unclaimed.

This is where the property ends up after it’s been recovered whether it be one at a time or in a bunch.

Cortes said he wishes people would collect.

“[In] 2012 we had two arrest search warrants and there were 100 bikes in each place,” he said.

According to police, bike thefts have increased 70 percent over the past five years, totaling more than $5 million in stolen merchandise.

“I’ve had two bikes stolen,” said Chema Hernandez Gil.

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Gil, a community organizer with the San Francisco Bike Coalition, said he’s collecting dozens of these stolen bikes that eventually will find their way back to the streets.

“What we’re going to be doing is refurbishing them to give out to different community groups who have identified recipients who would benefit from affordable transportation, he said.
Some of the bikes have been held for their owners for up to two years.

Lt. Cortes said the owners should know the bikes are going to a good spot if they’re not getting them back.

“Some underprivileged person is getting a nice bike to ride around,” he said.

His advice for getting your bike back was to write down the serial number as it’s the only way you can prove it’s yours.

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The department said only a quarter of the bikes stolen end up back in hands of their rightful owners.