Bike-tracking website, viewers help get stolen bicycles back to rightful owners

SEATTLE -- A local man is on a mission to reunite stolen, high-end bikes with their owners, and he's doing it with the help of a local website tracking system.

Chris Bortel just got his bike that was stolen Sept. 1 back on Tuesday. Well, he got almost all of it back.

"So it's pretty complete. There's a few parts missing that were probably already sold," he said.

Bortel said the bike is worth $1,600. He searched all over the Internet for nearly two months, until he came across a listing on eBay. That's when he contacted Bike Index.

"We let people register for free whenever they want to, just so they have a picture, the serial number, anything distinctive, stickers or scratches, just so they have a record," said Bryan Hance, who runs the Bike Index website.

If you're registered on Bike Index and you have your bike stolen, your bike is listed on a massive database that is made available to police, pawn shops and bike shops. And they're using Bike Index to identify thieves and recover bikes.

Hance estimates 40 to 50 bikes are reported stolen on their website each day. The Seattle Police Department said 1,354 bikes have been reported stolen in Seattle just this year, compared with 2,633 vehicles.

"We just provide a very fast, very easy, free way for people to not only list their stolen bikes with us but then everyone out there who's trying to keep an eye out, who's trying to combat this horrible problem, we give them a fast, free cheap way to check on the progress of bikes and it just works," Hance said.

Jeff, a Seattle bike enthusiast and a big fan of Bike Index, said he spends the first 15 minutes of his mornings looking at the index.

Since May, Jeff has helped find and return 20 bikes to their rightful owners with Bike Index. He sniffs out questionable ads on social media and alerts police.

"There are dozens of people that are doing the same thing I am doing right now every day," he said.

If you have a bike, you can register it on Bike Index for free and they have some great tips for protecting your bike, too.  Click here to go to the Bike Index website.