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Lock Up Your Scooters

July 31, 2008

It was a big weekend for scooter thefts in Hampden.

Five Vespas were stolen from Scott Baxter’s garage behind the 3800 block of Falls Road, ranging from a vintage 1966 scoot to a pair of 2005 models belonging to his wife (OK, if you want to split hairs, one of the 2005s was a Stella, not a Vespa, and as long as we’re in the parentheses, I’d better disclose that Scott and his wife, Libby, are friends of mine). All five were recovered a couple of blocks away by police who saw them being ridden, and Scott didn’t know about it until a neighbor knocked on his door at 5:50 Monday morning to tell him where his bikes were. The newer scooters were damaged by the thieves, who popped the lock on one and dropped the other.

The whole thing was captured by WBAL’s news chopper, and there’s an edited version on the station’s web site right now. If you look close, that’s Scott in his bathrobe at the end.

James Genego wasn’t as lucky. Of the two scooters stolen from his house at 32rd Street and Elm Avenue between 12:30 and 1:00 on Sunday morning, one was recovered, but there’s still a 1963 Lambretta missing. James says the bikes were locked up behind his house, and the thieves cut two locks on the fence and one on the bikes to get them. A neighbor told James he saw six kids messing with the scooters down the alley and yelled at them, chasing them off. One bike was left behind, but the neighbor saw them run off down the alley pushing the Lambretta, then saw them getting into a dark blue minivan out front, which James thinks also contained the scooter. To add insult to injury, James says the other bike was taken to the city impound lot, where he needs to wait for the paperwork to clear before he can pay a $115 towing fee to get it back.

In addition to being a rare bike, James’ 1963 Lambretta has a lot of sentimental value, and he’s been putting up fliers and took a couple of days off work to look for it. He’s offering a reward for it on Craigslist. (His is the red and white scooter in the picture above.)

A few blocks away, between 11 Sunday night and 7 Monday morning, Carissa Tomlinson had her 2007 Kymco scooter stolen from her backyard in the 3300 block of Chestnut Avenue, along with a bicycle belonging to her husband. The mint-green scooter had Tennessee plates (Tomlinson and her husband moved to Baltimore earlier this month), and she used it to commute to her job as a librarian for Towson University.

“I think I’m done with having a scooter,” Tomlinson says. “I’m taking the bus to work.”

A call to the police department about the thefts has not been returned as of this writing.

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