One adventure that did not make it into this week's story about the Recyclery: checking out the hundreds of lost, stolen and confiscated bikes in the Portland police's property and evidence warehouse.
The police warehouse is at the end of a long driveway that snakes through a construction site in industrial Northwest. Photographer Minh Tran and I handed our IDs over to a woman behind a thick glass window and took a seat on one of the two metal benches in the small, antiseptic white waiting room when suddenly the door flew open and in walked a man who named Handsome Jack. I know this because he immediately introduced himself to us, in a bewildered sort of way like he was surprised to see us in this familiar territory. Handsome Jack was not handsome.
- Minh Tran
He was there looking for his adult tricycle, which the police had confiscated when he was arrested for public intoxication and put in the drunk tank the night before, he said. His trike was blue, he said, had we seen it? Alas, no. He sometimes plays guitar for a band at the E-Room, he said, had we seen him play? Alas, no. Then out came friendly Evidence Control Supervisor Ty Routley and our times with Handsome Jack were over. Alas.
The police evidence room feels as large as the IKEA warehouse. Boxes of evidence from crime scenes and prisoner property stretch to the high ceiling. The room currently contains 358 bikes, which are stacked three-high in two long rows. Sparkly purple Huffys. Solid commuter bikes with pumps. Lots of mountain bikes. The bikes hang out here for 60 days, if they're found and potentially stolen property, but a lot longer if they're evidence. If no one comes looking for them, they go to state surplus auction. One bike stopped me in my tracks. It was a red Schwinn, a three-speed with a cute front basket. The wire basket was mangled and twisted in, the front wheel covered with a black plastic bag slapped with a bright sticker reading, "Biohazard."
"Is that covered because there's blood on the wheel?" I asked Ty.
"Yep," he replied. Minh took his photos and we left soon after. Handsome Jack was in the parking lot, leaning on his trike and lighting a pipe.