San Jose neighbors describe bicycle 'chop shops,' share concerns about additional criminal behavior

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents living near Downtown San Jose are demanding action. They say a bicycle "chop shop" of sorts is now well established along the Guadalupe River Trail.

They're concerned it's attracting more criminal behavior.

Video shared with ABC7 News shows a sea of bicycles, broken and destroyed.

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The area is being described as a bicycle chop shop along the Guadalupe River Trail, at the Virginia Street bridge in San Jose's Gardner Neighborhood.

"The bike thing has just gotten a lot bigger over the past four years," resident Anthony Cardott said.

Cardott didn't record the video, but he lives nearby.

He feels for the homeless people, pointing to circumstances. Cardott blames the lack of affordable housing and lack of action by city leaders.

"I hope that when the powers that be want to do something about it, that they'll invite the people here first to come talk," he said.

Cardott continued, "And not talk around it like in these very convenient, and at the same time very passive-aggressive forums like social media- where no one actually asks the people involved what they need."

However, others say it's clear criminal behavior.

"It's crazy! I walked into these places. There's tents, there's places with sprockets and bicycle parts. It looks like a bike shop," resident Eric Greenwood told ABC7 News.

We first introduced you to Greenwood in September.

Surveillance footage showed the moment someone took Greenwood's bike from his garage.

The San Jose resident then scoured homeless encampments and area chop shops.

Eventually, someone came across his bicycle frame. His bike was stripped and spray painted.

Greenwood said there is no question his bicycle went through a chop shop.

"There's a whole underground bike shop that's going on in these homeless encampments," he said. "They're scouting neighborhoods. They're looking for quick opportunities, and they're taking them. And they can take them. The laws are kind of lenient."

Greenwood said there are at least four sizable chop shops within the Downtown San Jose area.

ABC7 News contacted Councilman Raul Peralez's office about the issue. His office says this was the first they'd heard about it.

In a statement to ABC7 News, Peralez's office said, "We encourage neighbors to continue to report criminal activity in their neighborhoods to our police department and work with them in combating these types of issues."

However, residents question whether their reports will turn into real action.

"Recently we had a shooting in the park. We actually met the day before and we told them it's going to get bad. Unfortunately, the next day, somebody got shot- which is a block, or two blocks from where the chop shop is," Robert Jones told ABC7 News.

Jones is the vice president of the Gardner Neighborhood Association.

He explained, "I've just heard from neighbors that are losing bicycles and equipment, and people coming into their yards, and taking stuff really rapidly then it disappears."

Jones said there are a number of chop shops, but says the trail location makes it easy for people to hide the bicycles.

"It's underneath a bridge," he added. "So, you could be driving back and forth across the street, and never know it's down there."

Jones pointed to the city's push to improve San Jose's bikeability, and explained the chop shop makes that challenging.

"I know our Mayor Sam Liccardo is encouraging people to ride bicycles to get back and forth to work. But one of the challenges we have is that the place we ride our bicycles to, is a place where they're stealing bikes," he said. "And it's not safe. Then people are less inclined to use these other alternative means of transportation."

ABC7 News reached out to Mayor Liccardo's office. He was unavailable for comment.
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