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A Special Place in Hell for Bike Thieves

By Phillip Barron

A neighbor recently posted a note to the neighborhood listserv that his daughter’s bike was stolen. The bike was unlocked, leaning against another (adult) bike, which was locked. Both were on a semi-enclosed front porch; one could have determined that the kid’s bike was unlocked only if (s)he had seen someone park the bike without securing it, or (s)he walked up on the porch to find out. Either way, this is a pretty bold move for a community where, as my neighbor says, “our neighborhood doesn’t feel to me like the kind of place where...” he needs to lock his bike. 

Don’t waste your breath (nor your keystrokes) calling him naive. Regardless how fashionable cynicism is these days, it’s worth lamenting that we live in a world where we can’t leave a bicycle in a front yard without it becoming a target for thieves. 
Nevertheless, bike thievery is a unique moral and criminal transgression. Theft of one’s bike has been known to rile the wrath of even the most otherwise placated pacific souls. Indeed many in the cycling community have noted that there must be a special place in hell for bike thieves.

To know whether there really is a place in hell reserved for bike thieves, you have to turn to Dante Alighieri. Dante is not just the only person who claims (with some authority)