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  1. #1
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    GPS STOLEN BIKE LOCATOR - LoJack-type system for bikes

    Do you know if anyone is any closer to having an actual product that can be purchased for locating a stolen bike? I'm looking for something like a GPS based LoJack for bicycles, that we can install in a discrete place and maybe stand a chance of finding our bikes after the crime is committed.

    I keep thinking that with the technology available out there, the bright minds of the younger generation, and the value of our better bikes, we CAN and MUST install locating chips before our bikes disappear!
    Who is John Galt?

  2. #2
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Nah, they'd still be too expensive for mass market. Probably more expensive than an average bike.

  3. #3
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    IMHO, the problem w/ a system like this being mass produced is that it would be easily located and disabled/discarded by thieves. If the product (and installation instructions) was available to everyone, than it would be available to bike thieves. It seems like the best option is still some sort of DIY set up that nobody else knows about.

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    Senior Member mykn's Avatar
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    Like others have said, it would be easy to locate. Besides that, in order to get any GPS tracking to work correctly you would need the antenna to be exposed which would defeat the purpose of hiding it. On top of that, the bike knowing it's lat/lon doesn't do much good if it cannot communicate it back to you. GPS chipsets and cellular chipsets use a lot of juice, so you would have to make sure that it's charged up all the time, which means it would have to be easily accessible. When you're all said and done, the money you would spend on the device and service fees would pay for a new bike if it is stolen.

  5. #5
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Each of us is different. In my own case, my titanium frame mountain bike has value - probably more than my car, to be honest. But much more than that is, this bike has special memories and meaning to me. She's a real special memento of all the places in all the states we've been together. I don't suppose many people have possessions that have special meaning anymore.

    But I can tell you this: If she went missing, I would go crazy trying to get her back.
    Who is John Galt?

  6. #6
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Been around for a couple of years now.

    http://www.zoombak.com/

    It's small enough to put on a pet. You could easily put one on a bike. If you had a saddle without a significant metal frame (maybe a brooks, certainly a gel and plastic saddle) you might be able to hide it there well enough. I think if you had a rack with a plastic deck, you could secure it under the rack and it wouldn't be noticed.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Sharpe's Avatar
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    I don't know about the LoJack idea but there's a company called Snagg that makes the equivalent to pet microchips for musical instruments (My Carvin bass has one & I think Gibson Custom Shop stuff uses them too). These are small enough that they could be hidden inside a frame tube (manufacturers - maybe you could build them into bikes??) their retrofit kits sell for around $25.00 per chip - it may not aid in tracking but could deter theft in the first place by making stolen bikes easier to identify / harder to sell. Just my 2Ē
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  8. #8
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    i saw it done once for a bait bike when the local news did a piece on bike theft. they filmed the chase and it was pretty cool, the thief looked so confused whenever they would catch up with him. i've tried to find it on youtube but haven't been able to find it.
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

  9. #9
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    Been around for a couple of years now.

    http://www.zoombak.com/

    It's small enough to put on a pet. You could easily put one on a bike. If you had a saddle without a significant metal frame (maybe a brooks, certainly a gel and plastic saddle) you might be able to hide it there well enough. I think if you had a rack with a plastic deck, you could secure it under the rack and it wouldn't be noticed.

    That's almost $200 a year in service fees, and at $99 the device isn't cheap. It's also not designed for a bike.

    For a bike you'd need something that can't be easily identified and there are not a lot of places to hide something like this on a bike. Does aluminum attenuate signals? On a carbon bike you could stick it inside the frame somewhere if it was small enough.

    With thin, flexible circuits coming I'd envision one that looks like a decal

  10. #10
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    I'd envision one that looks like a decal
    how about a decal that says "this bicycle is equipped with the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System"
    probably cost less than $2 and you're done same idea as folks who put home security signs in their windows without actually having a security system.
    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

  11. #11
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    That's almost $200 a year in service fees, and at $99 the device isn't cheap. It's also not designed for a bike.

    For a bike you'd need something that can't be easily identified and there are not a lot of places to hide something like this on a bike. Does aluminum attenuate signals? On a carbon bike you could stick it inside the frame somewhere if it was small enough.

    With thin, flexible circuits coming I'd envision one that looks like a decal
    THAT would be the real money maker! Whoever can bring that sucker to the market and have it working reliably, will become rich beyond their dreams. I can see a small flexible solar cell as part of that surface-mount package. And with the kinds of adhesives that are available these days, it could be totally weatherproof and thief proof.

    Somehow, we have to even the odds against scumbag bike thieves.
    Who is John Galt?

  12. #12
    Fat man in a little coat nixternal's Avatar
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    They have those little GPS devices you can stick in your kid's backpack. I thought about using something like this as well. They have some really small units that you can attach under the seat, down the seat tube, into the end of your handle bars, you name it.

  13. #13
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe those in power, running "The System" don't want us tracking down our stolen bikes? I get the feeling that the authorities are afraid of confrontations when we trace our bikes and meet up with the thieves. I think the cops, lawyers and judges would much rather just dismiss us as mere minor victims, than to go to any trouble dealing with theft rings, shoot-outs, etc.
    Who is John Galt?

  14. #14
    Senior Member mykn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xizangstan View Post
    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe those in power, running "The System" don't want us tracking down our stolen bikes? I get the feeling that the authorities are afraid of confrontations when we trace our bikes and meet up with the thieves. I think the cops, lawyers and judges would much rather just dismiss us as mere minor victims, than to go to any trouble dealing with theft rings, shoot-outs, etc.
    I imagine they would rather us not escalate the situation by showing up and trying to take our property back.

  15. #15
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mykn View Post
    I imagine they would rather us not escalate the situation by showing up and trying to take our property back.
    Exactly. Your rights don't matter to them.
    Who is John Galt?

  16. #16
    Senior Member mykn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xizangstan View Post
    Exactly. Your rights don't matter to them.
    My previous post was a bit ambiguous. What I meant was, they probably don't want you showing up at someones door for some vigilante justice. Assuming you even show up at the correct location, who knows what the person who took the bike would do? Is it worth the chance that you may be escalating the crime from theft?

    There's nothing preventing you from making your own lo-jack device for your bike. Head on over to sparkfun.com and get a gps data logger, a microcontroller, and a pay as you go phone that the uC can interface to. Develop some software to send back the GPS location data whenever the phone receives a text message and you're golden. What you do with that information is what could cause liabilities for yourself.

    I don't think there is some conspiracy on why bicycle theft is treated less seriously than auto theft. Bikes are harder to track down, are generally not registered or licensed with the government, and "bikes" are commonly though to be a cheap commodity. It may not be the case, but I imagine that is how most people think of it.

  17. #17
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    You're right, of course. But I'm saying that even with knowledge of where the bike is, and where it's sending it's GPS signal from, law enforcement would be reluctant to respond and go after it for you. If it's inside somewhere, they would likely need to first go and get a search warrant. And as you say, most people think of $80 Walmart bikes when they think of bikes. Most cops, judges and lawyers would say we have no business owning $2000+ bikes, as we're just enticing otherwise law-abiding citizens into taking such expensive bikes. They likely will be thinking we deserve to have such excessively valuable bikes taken. Part of that whole "redistribution of wealth" philosophy that's become so popular these days...

    Nonetheless, I want what's mine. If someone takes it, I want it back. Simple.
    Who is John Galt?

  18. #18
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Sharpe View Post
    I don't know about the LoJack idea but there's a company called Snagg that makes the equivalent to pet microchips for musical instruments (My Carvin bass has one & I think Gibson Custom Shop stuff uses them too). These are small enough that they could be hidden inside a frame tube (manufacturers - maybe you could build them into bikes??) their retrofit kits sell for around $25.00 per chip - it may not aid in tracking but could deter theft in the first place by making stolen bikes easier to identify / harder to sell. Just my 2Ē
    Of course, this is nothing like what the original poster was talking about.

    And really, your bike already has something similar -- it's called the serial number. Yes, they can be filed off, but that makes it hard to sell a bike.

    (Do thieves often file off serial numbers? Do they stamp in new ones?)

    And lastly, such an RFID tag is totally useless if people don't know to check for them.

  19. #19
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xizangstan View Post
    Do you know if anyone is any closer to having an actual product that can be purchased for locating a stolen bike? I'm looking for something like a GPS based LoJack for bicycles, that we can install in a discrete place and maybe stand a chance of finding our bikes after the crime is committed.

    I keep thinking that with the technology available out there, the bright minds of the younger generation, and the value of our better bikes, we CAN and MUST install locating chips before our bikes disappear!
    Here's some things that you can buy now --

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.11314
    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.25332

    ... and dealextreme does sell several other similar devices.

    If you put in a "pay as you go" sim card, this might actually be cost effective.

    It's not clear how long the battery will last -- you'll probably have to charge it at least every few days.

    And both the GPS and the cell phone part have antennas, so this can't be inside anything metal. Your best bet might be somewhere in your seat?

    Turning on the GPS when you need it may not work -- if the bike is indoors when you activate it, the cell phone part will probably work but the GPS part may not. It could be designed so that the GPS could be always on, remembering the location if it loses signal, but that would drain the battery quickly.

    Either way, look around on DX's site under their "GPS gadgets" -- they have several similar devices. But using this day to day sounds like a real pain in the neck -- investing in a better lock or bringing your bike inside makes a lot more sense. This is likely to only really be practical if you're planning on your bike being stolen, like if it's a bait bike ...

    I should also mention that it's more than a chip. You need a GPS chip, a cell phone chip (or some sort of radio transmitter), all the glue that goes between the two, antennas for both and a battery. The battery will need to be recharged on a regular basis -- if it's dead when your bike is stolen, it's useless. So it can be small, but isn't "a chip" small.

    This actually makes a lot of sense for a car -- a big battery is available to power it all, you've got lots of space to hide it, etc. For a bicycle, it's less practical, but still doable.
    Last edited by dougmc; 10-06-10 at 04:11 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    In the right hands, these tracking devices are great, but my daughter was the victim of a domineering BF who installed one of these tracking devices on her car without her knowledge, until well after he left her for another woman, and only then by a close friend.

  21. #21
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    In the right hands, these tracking devices are great, but my daughter was the victim of a domineering BF who installed one of these tracking devices on her car without her knowledge
    The police would probably take such an incident very seriously.

    Only the police get to track other people's cars in such a manner without a warrant!

  22. #22
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    In the right hands, these tracking devices are great, but my daughter was the victim of a domineering BF who installed one of these tracking devices on her car without her knowledge, until well after he left her for another woman, and only then by a close friend.
    Seems to me the guy was guilty of a couple serious crimes: Stalking and harassment
    Who is John Galt?

  23. #23
    Senior Member mustachiod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b View Post
    BF does not have the answer to what you will be happy with.

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    Lojack does have something for bikes, luggage etc.


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