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Thread: Theft on tour?

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    Birds Exist heyisforhumans's Avatar
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    Theft on tour?

    Anyone have any problems with having their stuff stolen on tour?

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    No. But when camping I lock my bike to a tree or whatever and keep my stuff in my zipped up tent. At restaurants I keep the locked bike in view from where I'm sitting and at markets I lock the bike in front of the store - regardless of whether there are bike racks elsewhere - and give it a glance through the window every time I finish with an aisle. I also sometimes lock the panniers to the racks with a light cable and TSA lock.

    I have repainted my Americano so there are now no decals identifying it and have replaced my "Hilleberg"-emblazoned tent stuff sack with one from Sierra Designs.

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    Birds Exist heyisforhumans's Avatar
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    I think getting rid of flashiness is really important, especially in poorer areas, regardless of whether you're biking or not. I've done a lot of traveling in central america and india and it seems like the best way to not be a theft's target is to look like there's nothing to target. Also, coming from a community of modern day robin-hoods it seems like in some places you're most likely to have your stuff stolen by some 20-something year old whitey that thinks they're playing revolutionary...or tweakers in eugene. I'm more hesitant in liberal areas than conservative ones
    Last edited by heyisforhumans; 01-31-10 at 09:57 AM.

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    I haven't had a problem. I lock the bike with my ulock when I'm in cities and I take my pack off the rack if it's a crowded place and I'll be away from the bike for a while. After commuting in cities for a while, the relative security of the rest of the nation seems pretty unreal. Many bike tourers who don't frequent cities don't even bring a cable lock.

    I think your ideas are sound.

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    Haven't toured, but want to. Checked with my insurance agent last week on insurance for our tandem and learned that bicycles are one of the most expensive items to insure, at $7 per $100 of coverage. That gets pretty pricey on a high end tandem! Now I'm thinking to just keep a good eye on it at all times! But maybe when ready to do the "big tour" someday, maybe then worth getting insurance only for the duration of the tour? One other limitation--my insurance company only will cover the bike (even at that high price) for USA, not foreign travel.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    It has not been a problem. Just use common sense, and a lock to ward off the opportunists. It is tough to gaurd against the pros with bolt cutters and industrial grade hacksaws. We did have a waitress at a diner in Cleveland, Ohio advise us to bring our bikes inside, "because they probably won't be there when you go out". We took her advice. Living in Oregon, we are far more perinoid about bike theft in Portland and Eugene than most places on the road. Even if there is not something solid to secure the bikes to, we cable ours (2) together running the cable through frames and wheels. It would take a small gang to move that mess, and they wouldn't be moving very fast.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Never happened to me, but having something or the bike stolen on tour is sorta akin to getting hit by a car. You take all reasonable precautions, but it still might happen.

    With two, no problem. One watches the gear while the other shops. If at a restaurant, always have the bike(s) in view. Take the most valuable stuff with you when your leave the bike. Lock it up. Don't stop in sketchy neighborhoods. That's about it.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Bike was stolen in San Fran

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    Quote Originally Posted by heyisforhumans View Post
    I'm more hesitant in liberal areas than conservative ones
    Those leftists and bike theft go hand in hand...

    I'm jk-ing. But really, I think one's political stance has little to do with their propensity to steal bikes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryandood View Post
    Those leftists and bike theft go hand in hand...

    I'm jk-ing. But really, I think one's political stance has little to do with their propensity to steal bikes.
    Yup, I'm a liberal and I've never stolen a bike. Damn, man...I gotta get my chit together.

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    Most people in prison are religious so I make sure to lock up my bike when visiting a church

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    Three years on tour and nothing stolen. I lost 2 towels, but that was my own fault for leaving them behind.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    Birds Exist heyisforhumans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryandood View Post
    Those leftists and bike theft go hand in hand...

    I'm jk-ing. But really, I think one's political stance has little to do with their propensity to steal bikes.
    I'm not talking about people who voted for obama, i'm talking about other people, but would rather not get into it.

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    Birds Exist heyisforhumans's Avatar
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    i'm less concerned about bikes and more curious about getting panniers or things out of the panniers stolen

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    Gear: on tour, my tent and sleeping pad are bungeed on top of rear rack, making opening the rear panniers possible but not easy. Removing panniers without untangling tent+pad is nearly impossible. Walk-by-stealing is out of the question. If I take a break in a crowded place (gas station for example), I very visibly take just the handlebar bag, maybe bike comp and pump, and leave everything else attached to bike. Maybe even rummage through a pannier for a show, to take something with me. I try to send a message to anyone interested enough to watch: anything valuable goes with me, the rest is dirty cycling clothes.

    Bike: I carry my ridiculously heavy commuting U-lock on tours too, but mostly use it to secure the unladen bike during nights. Much as I do back home. I have a small frame mounted lock in the rear tyre I use for brief stops to immobilise the bike.

    A determined thief can get my stuff no matter what. So far that hasn't happened (knocks wood).

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I always leave my panniers and gear on the bike. Even at night the only stuff that goes in the tent is the handlebar bag, what I need to sleep for the night, and my clothes for the morning. I do carry a fairly cheap and light cable lock and use it sometimes.

    I tend to tour in small town America where theft is less of a problem than more urban areas.

    I did have a cell phone stolen in Berea KY when I left it charging in a campground bathroom while I went to dinner. I should have been more careful as there were several people there who appeared to be more than a bit sketchy.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 02-02-10 at 12:53 PM. Reason: fixed typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by ubermensch84 View Post
    Most people in prison are religious so I make sure to lock up my bike when visiting a church
    They "found" religion in jail not in church....
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    My panniers bolt to my racks. You need an allen wrench to remove them, and you would first have to un-bungee the gear from the racks to get the panniers off, so I don't worry about that. I take my wallet and camera with me if I leave the bike unatended.

    As others have noted, keep things in sight when possible and use common sense. I had a brain fart one day that aided an attempted theft in the liberal haven of DuBois, WY. The camping area area for cyclist at the Circle Up Camper Court or whatever it's called was near a dirt road that led to a trailer park. The only thing seperating the camping area from the road was a short post & rail fence that a 6 y.o. could climb over. I was sitting outside the laundry room reading maybe 40 yards from my tent. I had left my MSR Dragonfly sove out in full view. Two teenaagers drove down the road, stopped and were eyed up my gear. Fortunately, I saw them. One of them got out of the car and started towards the fence. I got up and started walking quickly towards my camp. The kid jumped back into the car and the driver sped off, kicking up dust in the process. Despite the incident, I am not paranoid about theft of my bike or possessions.

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    The only thing I have had stolen in 33 years is a fuel bottle.That was last year in front of REI of all places.So I had to go back inside and buy another one and some fuel.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by heyisforhumans View Post
    I'm not talking about people who voted for obama, i'm talking about other people, but would rather not get into it.
    You're the one who brought up politics in the first place.

    I had something stolen from a pannier in San Sebastian, Spain. Petty theft is a big problem in some European countries. It is rampant in Spanish cities. The authorities don't seem to care. Someone tried to get in my tent in a campground in France. Gypsy kids attempted and failed to rob me on the Paris Metro (obviously I wasn't biking at that moment), and gypsy kids attempted and failed to rob a friend while we were walking together in Paris at the end of a bike trip. Something was taken from my handlebar bag in Israel. And an airline stole a bike from me at the beginning of a trip. I haven't had any theft problems while touring in North America or developing countries.

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    The one I can't figure out is the lock on the Ortlieb handlebar bag. OK I can see it maybe stopping the quick grab and dash but other than that it is just a waste of weight.

    I almost always have my handlebar bag with me anyway since it contains my wallet, passport, camera and everything else I cannot stand to lose. I even take it into the shower with me at hostels and campsites. Other than the bag I can replace everything else.

    As someone said above, don't become a target. I recall on forum member that insisted on leather bags. You might as well hang a sign on them saying steal me.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

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    Birds Exist heyisforhumans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
    You're the one who brought up politics in the first place.


    i have a lot of "anarchist" friends that think they're underprivileged so it's a great idea to go steal stuff from people that "don't deserve it" ....ie. if you have anything that's not garbage it should be locked up at all times or you deserve to have it taken from you.. they scavenge off the fact that we live in a sketchy world instead of try to change it. This isn't just anarchist. It's a lot of college kids that just don't care also. ...their carelessness towards ameliorating things drives me nuts when they talk all the time about how things are bad and they shouldn't be. same with yuppie college kids.

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    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyisforhumans View Post
    i have a lot of "anarchist" friends that think they're underprivileged so it's a great idea to go steal stuff from people that "don't deserve it" ....ie. if you have anything that's not garbage it should be locked up at all times or you deserve to have it taken from you.. they scavenge off the fact that we live in a sketchy world instead of try to change it. This isn't just anarchist. It's a lot of college kids that just don't care also. ...their carelessness towards ameliorating things drives me nuts when they talk all the time about how things are bad and they shouldn't be. same with yuppie college kids.
    You live in New Jersey? That explains a lot. Here in New York things ain't that tough, we just have regular thieves, not the anarchist types

    Adam

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    Lucky so far only losing small stuff: a reflector in Fort MacKenzie, NWT, a bicycle bell in Mysore, India and my cycling partner lost a pump in a small village ( Ушумун) in Far East of Russia.

    I did have a bicycle stolen not while touring, but outside a Safeway in Fort Collins, Colorado when I lived there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    The one I can't figure out is the lock on the Ortlieb handlebar bag. OK I can see it maybe stopping the quick grab and dash but other than that it is just a waste of weight.
    +1

    I've never actually locked it, but two different bike shops have called me up to ask how to remove it while they're working on the bike. It doesn't immediately pop off, they see the lock, and assume. Come to think of it, that's probably actually a good thing while on tour.

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