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Bicycle chop shop shut down as tent city folded up

By Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Jan 15 2013 08:47:17 PM CST
Tent city bicycle chop shop
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's been four days since the residents of Spokane's tent city were evicted, and while some are using the resources offered to them, many have just spread out across the city.

The closure of the tent city, which has left behind blacktop littered with garbage, we welcoming news to Roy Harrington, whose bike was stolen last Monday from inside his business. The bike tracks in the snow away from his business led to under the freeway.

Two days later he checked for his bike in the tent city and found the frame chained to a tree.

"My pedals were missing, my grips were gone," Harrington said as he ticked off what had been stripped from his bike.

"I got my bike, got my tires, tried to find some parts and we left," he said.

While he found less of his bike than the last time he saw it, he found more than he expected when he went down there: More bikes in various states of disassembly, a bicycle chop shop within Spokane's tent city.

"Two or three deep of bicycles of all states; no wheels, no forks" Harrington said.

The tents have been cleared and people left without incident. Officers will check to make sure people don't come back. Unfortunately, Spokane police officers say it's difficult to track stolen bikes in that area now since most of the homeless took theirs -- or someone else's -- with them.

"We see some people hanging out under the bridge, but we haven't seen any new shelter or tent structures going up," city spokesperson Marlene Feist said.

Although he worries the bicycle chop shop has simply moved to a new location, Harrington said at least it won't be downtown anymore.

"It was an organized criminal center, like a hub," Harrington said.

Since the tent city was torn down, the Union Gospel Mission said they haven't seen an increase in people at the shelter. The House of Charity has, but as many homeless people have said in previous reports, going to shelters is not what they wanted.

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