MAGPIE TALE: Bicycle Thieves
When the elegant Cycles Sirius line was introduced in 1891, it brought an elegant new means of recreation and transportation to the world. Unfortunately, this coveted vehicle also introduced a brand of criminal more vile than horse thieves. Here are a few of them.Ferdinand Freund stole more than 300 bikes from upscale families in Vienna. It so traumatized them that Dr. Freud identified a new psychological condition, "the bicycle bereft".
Kadlec "Snookers" Prager terrorized Prague for over six years, reportedly stealing over 1,300 bikes even though he could have afforded to buy them himself since he came from the wealthy Prager steel fortune. Snookers would enter the priesthood just before the Nazis arrived and found redemption through his service in Jamaica where he is said to have given about more than 3,000 bikes to peasants.
Alfonzo Bronstein of Montevideo had a fetish for unusually crafted, odd bikes. Although his haul was rather small at a couple of dozen bikes, these typically hand-made bikes were beloved by their owners who often fell into deep depression.
The Lovoti-Hauschner gang of Washington D.C.'s Adams Morgan district patrolled the Capital Mall and took standard bikes that they retooled into their trademark "stretch" models that they tend sold on the black market.
Mysterious Mikey of San Bernadino, California, was sometimes referred to as the invisible bandit since he was never captured, and there are no photos of him. Especially fond of Stingrays, he managed to nab them as if they vanished into thin air.
Belfast's O'Reilly brothers are still folk heroes, stealing bike that they sold to help fund the IRA. "The Ballad of Cian and Ryan" is still a popular tune in many an Irish pub around the globe.
Jumpin' Jimmy Jernigan was one of the most heartless and brazen of thieves. He would skate into a playground until he gathered a small audience of thieves, and then would wheel away with five to seven bikes at one time. He was finally apprehended in Utah in 1934.