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Thread: Thieves

  1. #1
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    Thieves

    In a different thread someone mentioned thieves. I was curious if it pertains just to the bike or your gear also. I have always been paranoid that someone would steal my bike but I never had any gear (panniers) so didnt have to worry about that. I have a NY kryptonite fahgettaboudit u lock but dont think I want to lug around the weight with me on tour.

    What have you all had stolen?

    How do you protect against gear theft?

  2. #2
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    We are four, which helps tremendously. When we stop at a store, at least one of us stays with the bikes - always. We don't leave them unattended at all unless they are securely locked up in a hotel room or such. But being four people helps with that a lot - if I miss one hike out of four, that's not too bad.

    We have mostly old-style panniers (from the 80's or early 90's) and they are a pain in the patooties to get off the bikes - so we leave them on. We did take our Ortliebs into the tent with us, but the rest of panniers stayed put. Anything of particular value from them went in the tent, the rest of the stuff stayed outside on the bikes.

    Our basic method of theft protection was a big blue plastic tarp. At night we stacked all the bikes together - frequently leaning them into each other to make a self standing unit rather than using a tree - and then we covered them all with the tarp and tied it down. We figured that if somebody tried to get into the panniers, the tarp rattling around would wake my husband up (he's a very light sleeper). We only had a thin cable with us to lock the bikes and figured it was only a mild deterrent if someone really wanted the bikes.

    We did have a bike stolen one night. The bikes were stacked right next to our tent and covered with the tarp, but not locked. John woke up and heard the tarp rattling - figured a dog was trying to get at the food. He listened to it for a while, but when the dog didn't leave and the tarp kept rattling he opened the tent to shoo the dog away. My bike (with trailer) was laying on the ground about 10 feet away and Davy's bike was gone!!! John started screaming and everyone in the campground woke up - enough commotion so that the thieves threw the bike into the trees and took off.

    If you are traveling alone, I've heard of people staking their tent through a bike wheel or tying a string from their bike to their pillow - anything to wake you up if they try to take it.

    From what I've heard, most theft happens when you're around a group of people - like cycling through a market. That's what happened to us at the Ecuador/Peru border - somebody managed to open my son's handlebar bag and grab his entire bag of toys.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    Something I've wondered about too since I solo tour. I took a hefty U-lock on a Blue Ride Parkway tour & realized it was a waste of weight but OTOH I've gone to the beach with a car & had the car keys stolen from the beach towel. This actually forced me to rent a bike to get to a Western Union money-transfer store where I could get $$ to pay for a motel until a friend rescued me. The beach where the car keys were stolen was quiet & fairly isolated, seems like the same thing could happen on a bike tour. My tent is a huge 3-person deal, big enough to stash the bike overnight if the area seems questionable. Not sure if there's a great answer to your question, I read about an old German guy who rode around the world & was 98% finished in Britain where his bike was stolen. I guess luck & prayer play a big part.

  4. #4
    What, me hurry? Boston Commuter's Avatar
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    I'm worried about this too. My family is planning a camping tour this summer, but we're planning to take a hotel/motel on layover days so we can go hiking or whatever without fretting about our stuff. Aside from that, we will have the luggage with us, or at least in our tent vestibules, at all times.

    As for the bikes, unfortunately it seems that the security of a lock is directly proportional to its weight. For my peace of mind, that means I carry a lock that weighs in the range 1.5 lbs (eg, the Abus Millenioflex armored cable lock) to 2 lbs (Kryptonite Evolution mini U-lock). We have Pitlock wheel skewers on our bikes, which makes them much easier to lock up (no need for a cable to secure the wheels).
    Last edited by Boston Commuter; 04-26-11 at 08:33 AM.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I have a DIY made 10 foot cable.. to lock bike to trees
    and had another shorter lock , heavier.. appears heavy duty, at least,
    It goes around my rear wheel to prevent Roll off while I'm in the shops in town
    [now have a bike with a bolt on fitted European (AXA) Ring lock]

    ... and turn down sharing a request for a 'test ride' by a stranger in a far off land ..

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I use a light cable lock, but only sporadically when I feel like I need to. In small remote rural towns I pretty much don't worry. I do take extra precautions in larger "bike friendly" towns up to and including not letting the bike out of my sight is some cities.

    I had a cell phone stolen when left charging in a campground restroom once and a pair of Crocs went missing that might have been stolen and might have been misplaced.

    My gear typically stays in the panniers and on the bike except for the most theft worthy stuff that goes in the handlebar bag. The handlebar bag goes where I go. I figure that my bike was $599 and my gear is dirty clothes and used camping gear, not the most theft worthy items. I also figure that if worst came to worst I could have some stuff sent from home and buy other stuff and only be delayed a few days or a week at most. Worst case I could bum a ride to the next walmart and gear up with crappy stuff there. The advantages of not being a gear head I guess...

    My comments are limited to the US where I have toured.

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    As I described in another thread, some local hick kids in WY tried to steal my stove that I had left in plain view. Fortunately, I was nearby and have a keen eye for picking out people who are up to no good. They fled when I advanced towards them.

    Whether you are on a bike tour or not, theft is often a crime of opportunity. Leave something out and unattended and is accessible to the general public anbd you might lose it. The proverbial pie left on the window sill to cool. Assess the situation and take appropriate measures. But I pitty anyone who is walking around with the irrational fear that everyone is out to steal from them.

  8. #8
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    To my way of thinking, the type of person who will steel a bike will not go to the trouble of grabbing a loaded touring bike, especially if it is locked to some object even with a light weight cable. And they won't want to take the time to unlash bags on a rack or try to figure out how to detach panniers. I may be wrong and I hope I am never proven wrong. I have traveled through some remote areas in CA, TX and LA without problems. A thin braided steel cable with a padlock is all I carry. At grocery stores sometimes I take the bike inside and leave it where I can see it. Nobody has ever had a problem with that. Granted, I have not had to leave the bike in heavily populated, high crime areas but if that was on the agenda I would plan differently. The coiled cable, readily accessible, might also be a useful handle to use the padlock as a weapon in that unpleasant scenario.
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    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I worry most about a "theft of opportunity" (is that a term?) - when someone happens along, sees an unlocked and unattended bike, loaded with stuff. The bike is valuable and the stuff in the panniers may be. So they simply hop on and ride off. If you've ever watched "Cops" they often sting thieves that way. They leave an expensive-looking bike unattended and unlocked in an area frequented by low-lifes, and watch it. Someone walks by, spots it, looks around, hops on, and rides off.

    I think that's less likely to happen with a fully-loaded bike, because they're more noticable to onlookers, and look hard to ride. Also, my 62cm frame is so tall that smaller people might have a hard time even getting on.

    Still, I can't relax if I know my bike is vulnerable outside, so I always bring a good cable lock (from Home Depot) and lock it securely through both wheels and the frame.

    I think theft at a campground is less likely, but still possible. I usually lock it if I'm going to be away from my campsite for long, and I always lock it up at night.

  10. #10
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    I always carry a bunch of velco tape. And while I do lock my bike, I'll wrap a couple loops around a wheel and the frame, and also may wrap some around a brake level pulling it tight. My philosophy is that maybe even if they cut the lock, they may miss the black velcro and the frustration of not going anywhere all of a sudden may be enough for them to drop it and skedaddle in confusion. Thieves do not like to spend much time at the scene once the crime is initiated.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jseis View Post
    Is a ukulele player in a mandolin town and banned from all bars by the chief of police unless he leaves his strings and gravy at the front door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitarzan View Post
    I always carry a bunch of velco tape. And while I do lock my bike, I'll wrap a couple loops around a wheel and the frame, and also may wrap some around a brake level pulling it tight. My philosophy is that maybe even if they cut the lock, they may miss the black velcro and the frustration of not going anywhere all of a sudden may be enough for them to drop it and skedaddle in confusion. Thieves do not like to spend much time at the scene once the crime is initiated.

    I like this idea. Even if they found the velcro, I think the sound of undoing it would be enough to deter a thief (or at least alert you to what was going on).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MKIV987 View Post
    I like this idea. Even if they found the velcro, I think the sound of undoing it would be enough to deter a thief (or at least alert you to what was going on).
    +1

    What a clever, lightweight idea! It's like Nancy's with the tarp, but much more do-able for one person.

  13. #13
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Another thing we've done in areas where we felt there was a higher risk for the bikes was to strap them together with the nylon webbing we use to strap the sleeping bags on - they were just sitting there on the rack anyway, so we looped them around another bike and snapped them shut. Same idea as the velcro above, but the straps are there anyway.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    We have never had anything stolen while on tour. I am most concerned about the opportunistic thief and take precautions to deter them. When in shops or toilets, the bikes are always locked together and to a pole if possible. The ortliebs are attached with a nylon webbing strap to each other and a padlock so they can't be easily removed without a knife. The logic being that if they are really serious about stealing, they will do so whatever the precautions you take. If they can't easily steal your gear without spending some time around the bikes, they will probably not bother.

    Our bikes are not attractive ito new or well known models. They stood out amongst the local bikes in the Netherlands so we weren't as concerned about theft as the locals seemed to be (with their massive locks and chains).

    We lock the bikes together at night and keep all our gear inside the tent out of sight. There was one night where the campers next to us had gear stolen which they left just outside the tent, but we were untouched. Being too paranoid just spoils the tour. If theft did happen, then the gear simply can be replaced. If it can't, we carry it with us always in our handlebar bags eg camera.

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    Curious if anyone is concerned about vandalism as opposed to theft. A determined vandal could probably render a bike inoperable in less than 30 seconds.

    Paul

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    "bikes bikes bikes" mbcharbonneau's Avatar
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    Last tour I brought my commuter lock (a Faghettaboudit mini-u lock) and cable. Big mistake! That thing was heavy, and with panniers the lock was too small if I was leaning my bike against a fence or something. My plan for next time is to bring along a longer, lighter u-lock. The cable was useful since I could use it to lock my bike to a tree or around my hammock. I might bring it next time, I might not. Honestly I think I was too worried about theft, by the end of the tour I stopped locking my bike during the night (unless I was at an iffy campground) and when I was just running into the restroom. One bike camper I met didn't even bring a lock with him.

    For my panniers I bought a set of Ortlieb anti-theft cables. I just bolted them to my racks, I figured the cables were thin enough if someone really wanted my panniers they could just cut them off. Any valuables, electronics and my pepper spray were put into a bag and carried with me if I left the bike. I also sometimes covered my bike with a tarp secured with a bungee cord. It hid what's on my bike and prevented someone from rooting through stuff without making at least a little noise.

    I think image plays a part too. I have black Ortlieb bags, which are more inconspicuous than bright yellow or red. When my bike is covered in mud and dirty laundry strapped everywhere I don't think it makes too much of a target.
    ThatBlueBike.com - On bike commuting and touring.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbcharbonneau View Post
    L
    I think image plays a part too.)
    I'd agree with that, I once forgot to take it in and left my beat up looking canondale unlocked out on the street for about a week , and nobody even touched it. (The bike looks like someone went nuts with a wire brush and price tag stickers after painting it primer gray. )

    I really would have rather taken it back in my apartment though, I'd be pretty bummed if someone did take it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    While installing Ortlieb security cables on my wife's Ortlieb Packer Plus panniers I wondered why Ortlieb did not make anything for the the Classic Backrollers. I fabricated these and installed them on both my front and rear Ortlieb Classic Roller panniers. A small lock will connect the two rear panniers to the rack. A rubber band holds them to the buckle, out of the spokes until they are needed. Most opportunistic thieves don't usually carry cutters or a 3mm allen wrench. Serious theives will have tools that will take care most of our safeguards in relatively short order. We don't usually worry about security and do the usual cable or U-lock. This summer there is a good possibility that we may be touring in areas where a little extra precaution seems prudent.

    They are just 1/16 cable which can be cut with a pair of wire cutters or a big pair of scissors, but they might slow down the opportunistic thief. I ordered some replacement clips (they come from Ortlieb, 5 to a package), and swaged the cable trough a 1/2"x2" piece of aluminum 1/16" plate.



    PS. A raccoon carrried off one of my front panniers (the food one) right out from underneath our tent's rainfly. We'd been having a war with them all night, but I still didn't hear the rustleing until he had it about 15 yards from the tent. They also unzipped my wife's bento bag on her bike and stole her M&Ms. That is the only thievery we've experienced while touring.

    We did have waitress at a little diner in Cleveland tell us to bring our bike inside "or they might not be there when you go out". We took them inside.

    Last edited by Doug64; 04-26-11 at 10:43 PM.

  19. #19
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul2432 View Post
    Curious if anyone is concerned about vandalism as opposed to theft. A determined vandal could probably render a bike inoperable in less than 30 seconds.

    Paul
    True. We had the tires on three bikes slashed at Disney World of all places. We have an RV, and were staying at the Fort Wilderness campground, and had ridden the bikes up to the boat landing and locked them. Had 6 flats when we returned. This was about 5 years ago, so it can happen anywhere.

    Now that said.. and here's the part that still stands out. Disney picked up the bikes from us and took to a local bike shop and had all the tires/tubes replaced at their expense, and supplied rental bikes while they were doing it. THAT is customer service.

  20. #20
    djb
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    Doug, I like that idea, neat. Simple and as stated, will make things a bit slower for a thief.
    I used to use a curly cue coil combo lock, and would usually be able to get it through the panniers handles, rear wheel and frame, maybe front tire or if not, to a pole or something.
    I also found leaving some drying laundry under a bungee is a good "yuck" factor for your casual teenage punk happening upon seeing a bike outside a store etc.

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    On our 15 month tour around the US, all we carried was a thin cable lock used in conjunction with wheel locks. Wheel locks are great, since they render the bike unrideable. They also ask as parking brakes when on light rail. When in cities, we'd ask around at local bike shops if we could borrow a heftier lock and always had good luck.

    R
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    Sambo Sam Tully's Avatar
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    I always carry a 30cm length of double sided velcro around the frame so when I stop I pull the front gear lever on and wrap it around the lever. I do also cable lock the wheels together before anyone says"is that it"
    and for night time the BEST COVER is a BBQ cover from your local hardware, there light, water proof, cheap, dark coloured and some how seem to be tailor made for push bike.
    Thats what works for me
    Enjoy
    Sam

  23. #23
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathlesspedaled View Post
    On our 15 month tour around the US, all we carried was a thin cable lock used in conjunction with wheel locks. Wheel locks are great, since they render the bike unrideable. They also ask as parking brakes when on light rail. When in cities, we'd ask around at local bike shops if we could borrow a heftier lock and always had good luck.

    R
    www.pathlesspedaled.com
    shall look into wheel locks, not sure what they are...
    btw, enjoyed the vid of yours about the tour on the small wheeled bikes (forget brand name) Dont know if it was an older vid but your friend at the end was rather amusing, great finishing clip!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    ... and turn down sharing a request for a 'test ride' by a stranger in a far off land ..

    After a 4-day tour to the beach I was riding the DC Metro train home with bike & a guy asked to "borrow" my Droid phone, LOL.

  25. #25
    "bikes bikes bikes" mbcharbonneau's Avatar
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    Along the lines of the velcro strap that's been mentioned a few times, I've heard of people using the quick release on newer brake levers opposite the intended way to accomplish the same thing. Adjust the brake cable so that when the quick release button is pushed in the brakes operate as normal. When you release it, the brake will lock up and most likely fool anyone who tries to ride off with your bike. Even I didn't realize the button was there for a few weeks after buying my LHT before someone told me about it.
    ThatBlueBike.com - On bike commuting and touring.

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