DENVER - Stealing bicycles isn't just a crime - it's a thriving underground industry in Denver.
Bike theft is one of the most common crimes in the city, its number doubling between 2008 and 2012 and on pace to reach a record 1,704 stolen in 2013.
Police and cyclists see bike thievery as an unstoppable crime, particularly in downtown Denver, where one in five stolen Denver bikes are taken.
Thefts are done by a diffuse hodgepodge of individuals and small groups, police and experts say, and they prey on cyclists who are unaware of the risks, use inadequate locks and often leave bikes untraceable by failing to register their bike's serial number.
"You can't lock any bike up more than like 20 minutes on the street without risking something happening," said bike courier Marcus "Big Mark" Garcia, a 20-year veteran of navigating downtown Denver on two wheels. "There's guys hovering, waiting for people to slip up."
That's a growing problem for an outdoorsy city that's a magnet for carless 20-somethings, and for which being bike-friendly is considered a key part of Denver's economic-development message.
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