Brandon Holmes says he has no idea who stole his bike early Tuesday morning, but it must have been a lumberjack.

When Holmes, 25, exited Nick’s Beer Garden in Wicker Park around 3 a.m., his bike—his only means of transportation apart from the CTA—was gone. On the ground was the tree he had locked it to, sawed in three pieces.

“The lumberjack bandit, man, just cutting trees in half,” he told RedEye in a phone interview. “It just looked like it was violently tampered with.”

Holmes, of Humboldt Park, said he bought the bike a few months ago and paid about $450 for the brown SE-Lager 14 racer. After spending the evening watching a DJ perform in the area, he walked out of the bar and was surprised to find the bike gone and the tree cut down, Holmes said. Stressing that he was being sarcastic, Holmes said he “respected” the thief for the effort that went into taking it.

He said he locked the bike to the tree—planted in a carved-out portion of a city sidewalk—because bicycle racks in the area were full. 

EXTRA: Chicago cyclists face confusion over bike parking rights

“It makes me want to tell the city to make more bike racks,” he said. “They are kind of stingy about it.”

According to Ted Villaire, communications director for the Active Transportation Alliance, it is legal to lock a bike to a tree as long as it is on public property. However, the alliance discourages the practice because thefts like the one Holmes experienced can occur, and also because it could damage the tree.

Chicago Police News Affairs spokesman Jose Estrada confirmed the details of the theft and said that currently there are no suspects. He also said he’s never heard of this sort of bike theft before.

“To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of such a case,” he said, adding he’s never seen anyone lock their bike to a tree. “It’s an organic material. It’s easily defeated by anyone with the will and the means.”

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page