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13 Divvy bikes were slashed with a butcher knife this summer

The Divvy station at 331 S. Canal St. Image: Google Maps

Divvy thefts reached epidemic proportions in the summer of 2018 due to a shortsighted decision to remove a key piece of security hardware from the station docks. Replacing the part appears to have largely solved the problem, and there was no repeat of last year's theft crisis this summer, but that didn't mean that there weren't some occasional security headaches for the bike-share system.

Case in point is this Divvy vandalism case I recently learned about through Chicago Police Department records. On Wednesday, August 14, officers responded to a report of a person with a knife at 400 S. Canal St. When one of the police sergeants arrived on the scene, the suspect, identified as Mitchell Vasquez, fled northbound on Canal. He was later apprehended walking westbound at 451 W. Monroe St.

Officers ordered Vasquez to lay on the ground, according to the incident report. He obeyed and was placed in handcuffs. Police then recovered the suspected weapon, a butcher knife, about five feet away from Vasquez. Officers then transported the suspect to Canal and Van Buren St., where he was positively identified by a witness.

The witness told the responding officers that he saw Vasquez carrying the knife and stated that "it looked like he was puncturing the tires at the Divvy bike station" at 331 S. Canal, the report states. An officer observed that 13 cycles at the station had slashed tires.

Vasquez was read his Miranda rights by a Spanish-speaking responding officer, who translated for him. He was charged with criminal damage to property, with a court date of September 19.

The vandalism was reported to Chicago Department of Transportation assistant commissioner Sean Wiedel, who oversees the Divvy program, who is listed as the complainant on the incident report.

If this random act of vandalism was a result of mental health issues, here's hoping that the person who did it gets the help they need. And to anyone who might choose to slash Divvy tires out of boredom or spite, if you absolutely must commit vandalism to a vehicle, please choose one that doesn't offer cheap, healthy, environmentally friendly transportation to your fellow Chicagoans.

Update 10/10/19 4 PM: According to Cook County state's attorney's office spokesperson Tandra Simonton, Cook County clerk of the circuit court records show that Vasquez failed to show up to his September hearing and currently has a warrant out for his arrest. His next court date is scheduled for Friday, October 18.

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