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Old 02-02-10, 10:41 AM   #1
NOS88
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An altercation at the bike rack

I was on the University of Penn's main campus leaving a Saturday class I teach when I saw an altercation occur at a bike rack on campus. The gist of it is that a student was unlocking his bike, when another student approached with a police officer. The approaching student had told the police officer that someone was trying to steal his bike, and that he couldn't find his bike key. None of this, as it turned out later was true. So, the actual owner of the bike was quite surprised to be accosted by the police officer. It got quite loud for a few minutes, and I kept my distance, but was watching to see how it was resolved. It took a few minutes before the offending student (the one who appeared with the police officer) realized his cover was blown, and he then darted across traffic and around the corner not to be seen again. That was a pretty brazen attempt at bike theft , and it reminded me of the importance of having some identifying information on the bike that others couldn't possibly know about. It turns out this kid had his name and phone number engraved on the handlebar under the tape. He said it took him a few minutes to remember it was there when the incident first started to unfold.

So, I'm going over my fleet in the next few days to make sure that I can ID them all. Of course I already carry the serial numbers of all of them on my cell phone.
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Old 02-02-10, 10:51 AM   #2
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pretty dumb crook
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Old 02-02-10, 11:00 AM   #3
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This sounds much more like a stupid prank than attempted theft.

Serial numbers are going into the comments section of ICE on my phone. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 02-02-10, 11:06 AM   #4
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Nah not really, imagine if the owner didn't have ID engraved on the handlebar. It would no longer be his property and would be in the DMZ. Could have been a good chance the thief would have come much closer to taking his bike.
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Old 02-02-10, 12:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by NOS88 View Post
Of course I already carry the serial numbers of all of them on my cell phone.
A good idea but a smart thief would do the same as he stole it so he too would have the same serial numbers as you. The chances of this happening are slim but could happen I suppose.

As far as the original story what a risky why of trying to steal a bike, imo. I would never have the nerve.

I do think engraving some ID somewhere is a smart idea, do I have it ,Noooooo, but will soon enough. Also I have heard about some form of ID in the seat tube.
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Old 02-02-10, 12:29 PM   #6
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pretty dumb crook
From the stories my cop friends have told me, "dumb crook" is practically a tautology.

We're required to register bikes at the campus police dept. and put a registration sticker somewhere on each bike: one student ID maps to one or more bike IDs. It's not bullet-proof, but it's probably idiot-proof.
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Old 02-02-10, 12:36 PM   #7
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I always keep a business card wedged into each end of the handlebars.
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Old 02-02-10, 12:42 PM   #8
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Good advice and good comments by the readers.

Be sure to take pictures of your bikes and list them on your home owners insurance policy. Theft away from home is covered on most policies.
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Old 02-02-10, 01:23 PM   #9
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What are the chances that the key in my pocket happens to fit the bike I'm stealing???? I have 32 years worth of pictures of me riding that bike all over the country,how many do you think the thief has? I'm on a bike,thief better run fast or they are going to have a bad day if the cop doesn't catch them first.

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Old 02-02-10, 01:36 PM   #10
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Both of my sons go to UPenn and one of them rides a bike all over campus! I will be emailing him this afternoon to tell him this story! Thanks! BTW, you're not an engineering prof are you?!?
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Old 02-02-10, 02:18 PM   #11
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Both of my sons go to UPenn and one of them rides a bike all over campus! I will be emailing him this afternoon to tell him this story! Thanks! BTW, you're not an engineering prof are you?!?
No, I teach "Social Systems Theory" and "Social Deviance, Relevant Social Policy, Social Pathology, & Sociological Interventions" at the graduate level. So, I was especially interested in the interaction I observed.
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Old 02-02-10, 02:40 PM   #12
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Well that sure sounded like a case of social pathology to me... what do you think prof?
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Old 02-02-10, 03:20 PM   #13
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pretty dumb crook
Much dumber cop for buying it in the first place.
I sure hope the rightful owner gave the cop some lip, he deserved it.
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Old 02-02-10, 03:53 PM   #14
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Mate of mine on a ride in London and someone tried to take his bike. He called the Police and detained the Thief. Police turned up and the thief said it was his bike. There was my mate in full cycling gear and the thief in ordinary clothes. Policeman asked my mate what pedals were fitted- then looked at his cleats. He then cuffed the would be thief and it took 3 trips to the police station to make statements and get the thief to court.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:00 PM   #15
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A LBS owner told me to laminate my sales receipt and stuff down the seat tube.
Great idea - never did it - but I think I should. This would help in these kind of situations.
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Old 02-02-10, 05:36 PM   #16
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A LBS owner told me to laminate my sales receipt and stuff down the seat tube.
Great idea - never did it - but I think I should. This would help in these kind of situations.
I have a bike that never had a sales receipt... was custom built for me over a few months with me giving the builder money as he went. 'Course the head badge is my initial and my SSN is stamped in the BB... but no receipt.
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Old 02-02-10, 09:54 PM   #17
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"Social Deviance, Relevant Social Policy, Social Pathology, & Sociological Interventions"
Sounds like the last family reunion I attended.
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Old 02-02-10, 10:05 PM   #18
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Sounds like the last family reunion I attended.
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Old 02-03-10, 11:06 AM   #19
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Unfortunately this story doesn't surprise me too much. Given the high percentage of corrupt cops, there's a possibility the cop was in on it - just another form of forfeiture. In my years of studying and writing about law enforcement issues I've also learned that criminals are much less fearful of cops than the average citizen. Besides the issues of cops being criminals (and thus friends to many criminals), folks involved in crimes know the system. They know what cops can and cannot do (legally and realistically) and they learn to read cops and determine if a cop is likely a banger, upper (upright law abiding), crook, or doofus. Some drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, and bookies consider an occasional arrest just part of their life, nothing to get worked up over or worry about.
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Old 02-03-10, 11:43 PM   #20
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I always keep a business card wedged into each end of the handlebars.
That is a good idea. While reading this I was thinking what a pain it is with carbon frames that have no real serial numbers engraved like steel or ti frames. If the bike gets parted out I guess the card thing will not help too much?
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Old 02-04-10, 09:17 AM   #21
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Engraving something permanent on the bike might affect it's resale value when it comes time to pass it along...hmmm
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Old 02-04-10, 09:50 AM   #22
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Wow that cop could have been an accesorry to that bike theft. I learned a lesson here and I will surely record my SN somewhere safe with me and perhaps engrave my name and phone # on the downtube near the BB.
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Old 02-04-10, 10:53 AM   #23
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A LBS owner told me to laminate my sales receipt and stuff down the seat tube.
Great idea - never did it - but I think I should. This would help in these kind of situations.
What I do is scan the receipt, print a copy and carry that in my wallet.
Another copy stuffed in the seat tube or handlebar ends seems like a good idea too.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:06 AM   #24
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Another good thing to do is to take a picture of the bike and type the serial number and info over it in something like Photoshop or Microsoft Paint. Then you also have visual documentation on the bike.
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Old 02-04-10, 11:08 AM   #25
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I was on the University of Penn's main campus leaving a Saturday class I teach when I saw an altercation occur at a bike rack on campus. The gist of it is that a student was unlocking his bike, when another student approached with a police officer. The approaching student had told the police officer that someone was trying to steal his bike, and that he couldn't find his bike key. None of this, as it turned out later was true. So, the actual owner of the bike was quite surprised to be accosted by the police officer.
Identical bikes?
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