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How do thieves defeat U-locks, anyway?

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How do thieves defeat U-locks, anyway?

Old 09-15-13, 07:43 AM
  #1  
Sprayman
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How do thieves defeat U-locks, anyway?

Maybe this is the wrong forum for this question, but I haven't been able to find an answer anywhere else. Earlier this week somebody stole my Specialized Tri-Cross from my front porch. It was locked to the railing with an On-Guard u-lock. I never heard the sound of a grinder, and the rail it was locked to was in tact. Curiously, they took the lock when they took the bike. Maybe they have a way of picking the lock.

Some time ago I heard that thieves spray freon on titanium locks, making the locks brittle, and then whacking them with a hammer. I don't know if that still happens.

Anyway, if you have any insight I'd love to hear it.

Thanks,

Sprayman
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Old 09-15-13, 08:08 AM
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The car jack for a 1990 Ford Festiva is pretty stealthy. The closed position of this jack is usually within one finger pressure turn of effort to make contact with U-Lock. With a small, strong lever, 3-4 turns will bust it. 15 seconds.

Any car jack will do. But the Festiva that year had the smallest of any vehicle ever produced in the U.S.

The "pop" that it makes as it breaks isn't as pronounced as you would think.
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Old 09-15-13, 10:12 AM
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My daughter lost the key to her U Lock. I contacted the company and for $5.00, and the serial number, they would send me a key. In the end, she found her keys. I wondered at the time, if someone could take down the serial number and mail away for a key.
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Old 09-15-13, 10:17 AM
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A hydraulic porta-power, similar to using a jack



A disc grinder



A cutting torch



The pros are riding around with a van with a workshop of tools in it, motorcycles are stolen commonly like this too.
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Old 09-15-13, 10:32 AM
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Which OnGuard u-lock did you have? Some models are a lot easier to break than others.
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Old 09-15-13, 10:42 AM
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I tried opening a U-lock with a car scissor jack (bike that was donated to a local co-op with a lock on it.) The lock bent my jack, and I wasn't able to break it. I think they ended up grinding it off.
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Old 09-15-13, 11:07 AM
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Titanium locks??
Didn't know there was such a thing?
Why use titanium-when steel is much cheaper, just as strong
Maybe a 1 lb advantage in a 3 lb lock??

-a grinder-can cut any lock you can buy and carry-noisy but probably take less than 1 minute for a sturdy Motorcycle U-lock
Santa Fe have a big bike theft problem?? They sell them on CL?? Are pricy bikes targeted-perhaps sold in bigger cities CL?

Odd that they took the lock-perhaps they don't want folks to know how they did it- no grinding-so wasn't a grinder
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Old 09-15-13, 12:49 PM
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cordless angle grinder
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Old 09-15-13, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
Odd that they took the lock...
Nah, they nearly always clean up after themselves. Compromised lock = Evidence, stolen bike. Nothing = Did I leave my bike at Jimmy's place? Are you sure your bike was stolen, sir/miss?

Last edited by tcs; 09-15-13 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 09-15-13, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by TommyBing View Post
But the Festiva that year had the smallest of any vehicle ever produced in...
Korea.
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Old 09-15-13, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Sprayman View Post
Some time ago I heard that thieves spray freon on (bike) locks, making the locks brittle, and then whacking them with a hammer.
Depends on the lock. Popular Mechanics magazine sprayed down a Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit and wailed away - to no avail.
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Old 09-15-13, 05:27 PM
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It's highly unlikely the lock was picked, but it's not total Hollywood fiction.

Got 13 minutes?
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Old 09-15-13, 08:01 PM
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If the lock was way old, they could've used the old ballpoint pen trick. Kryptonite had recalls for all those U-locks with the round key holes five or so years ago.
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Old 09-15-13, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
Titanium locks??
Didn't know there was such a thing?
Why use titanium-when steel is much cheaper, just as strong
Maybe a 1 lb advantage in a 3 lb lock??

-a grinder-can cut any lock you can buy and carry-noisy but probably take less than 1 minute for a sturdy Motorcycle U-lock
Santa Fe have a big bike theft problem?? They sell them on CL?? Are pricy bikes targeted-perhaps sold in bigger cities CL?

Odd that they took the lock-perhaps they don't want folks to know how they did it- no grinding-so wasn't a grinder

No, no....it wasn't titanium. I don't know what I was thinking when I said that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Santa Fe has had a bad home burglary problem for the past couple of years, although I cannot say if more bikes are stolen here than anyplace else. Having had three bikes stolen from my home in the past 10 years, I'm inclined to think it's pretty bad. I doubt any thief with half a brain would put a stolen bike on the local Craigslist, but I have heard of that happening and so I'm keeping my eye out for it. I'm also checking the Albuquerque Craigslist just in case.
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Old 09-15-13, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
Which OnGuard u-lock did you have? Some models are a lot easier to break than others.

I forget which model it was. It was one of the U-locks, not a cable, and I purchased it only a few weeks ago.
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Old 09-16-13, 02:33 AM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
I tried opening a U-lock with a car scissor jack (bike that was donated to a local co-op with a lock on it.) The lock bent my jack, and I wasn't able to break it.
How did you insert it, across or lengthwise?
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Old 09-16-13, 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Sprayman View Post
No, no....it wasn't titanium.
Titanium Nitride can be used as a surface hardening, which might buy you a few seconds of resistance against a grinder.

If the industry wanted to go real hardcore, a sandwich principle of different metals could be used to inconvenience people using both oxyacetylene torches as well as abrasive grinders to defeat a lock.
Some metals will smear if you take an a abrasive tool to them, clogging the disc and reducing the cutting capacity.
Others will flame and sputter real bad at the use of a torch.
Not unbeatable by any means, but victory could certainly be made more costly. Hopefully to the point of making the thieves look elsewhere instead.
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Old 09-16-13, 04:55 AM
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Sprayman
Wow-3 times-that is a lot.
Your bikes were locked on an open porch-so they had to be pretty quiet.
Not enough room to bring it inside-or do you leave it outside when you plan to use it in the next few hours?

Visited Santa Fe 20 years ago. Some affluent areas, but some less affluent areas.Perhaps there is so ill will toward the more affluent outsiders-maybe the majority of folks are outsiders.
Of course-thieves are thieves-they don't need any excuse to steal-it is what they do.
Make SURE you check CL-
YES THIEVES DO SELL BIKES ON THE LOCAL CL-
Smarter ones will wait several weeks-month-but CL brings far more than any other way.
Usually the thieves won't post a picture-or the picture will be poorly lit-but yes they sell them on CL
Thieves are bold-

Titanium Nitride-yeah drill bits etc can be surfaced with that- or some carbide
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Old 09-16-13, 07:00 AM
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Thieves look it up on You Tube
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Old 09-16-13, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
How did you insert it, across or lengthwise?
Across. It was locked around a couple tubes and I couldn't fit the jack in lengthwise.
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Old 09-17-13, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis View Post
Sprayman
Wow-3 times-that is a lot.
Your bikes were locked on an open porch-so they had to be pretty quiet.
Not enough room to bring it inside-or do you leave it outside when you plan to use it in the next few hours?

Visited Santa Fe 20 years ago. Some affluent areas, but some less affluent areas.Perhaps there is so ill will toward the more affluent outsiders-maybe the majority of folks are outsiders.
Of course-thieves are thieves-they don't need any excuse to steal-it is what they do.
Make SURE you check CL-
YES THIEVES DO SELL BIKES ON THE LOCAL CL-
Smarter ones will wait several weeks-month-but CL brings far more than any other way.
Usually the thieves won't post a picture-or the picture will be poorly lit-but yes they sell them on CL
Thieves are bold-

Titanium Nitride-yeah drill bits etc can be surfaced with that- or some carbide
There's really no room to bring the bikes in the house, so I leave them outside, but at least now I have a locked, 7-foot tall gate blocking the back yard.

I live in a solidly middle-class neighborhood that is close to the city's main drag, so it's easy pickings for the thieves. I know many people in the neighborhood who have had their doors kicked in and their houses invaded, myself included--they kicked in my door 2 years ago and stole a computer. I guess that makes it 4 burglaries for me. I'm not the type to get a ferocious dog or a gun. Still, I'm not into being a passive victim, so I'll have to consider my options. I'm sick of getting ripped off on my own land.

Meanwhile, I'll keep my eye on Craigslist.
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Old 09-17-13, 09:24 PM
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Lost bike pieces I collected off the street included a U-lock that I decided to cut to retrieve the lock-side part of the holder. I think it was Kryptonite. Under relatively comfortable basement conditions, using a corded Bosch angle grinder it took me quite some time and effort to cut that lock. Sparks were flying all over (I put on safety glasses and clothes that could take burn-out holes) and I had to stop and spray the cut area with water, making sure that the wheel would survive. Even if I got better in cutting with practice, it did not seem a practical way to deal with a lock in the street.
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Old 09-17-13, 10:00 PM
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I've resisted this thread for a while. But i don't see why any one would post a method of lock defeating on line. Period. Andy.
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Old 09-17-13, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
I've resisted this thread for a while. But i don't see why any one would post a method of lock defeating on line. Period. Andy.
Lock manufacturers publicize how their locks withstand different methods of defeating them. If you want to fend off a threat, you better understand it. The OP is past his loss and naturally tries to understand it, presumably hoping to fare better in the future.
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Old 09-18-13, 02:08 AM
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Inverted aircan (freeze spray), and a hammer will bust many cable locks, chain locks, and u-lock that are made out of steel and not stainless or titanium. (stainless is exceptionally good at handling loads at negative temperature, while steel cracks and shatters)

Titanium is expensive, but it is somehow hacksaw proof (it dulls the blade very quick due to heat generation), and somehow grind proof (it is grindable but the sparks involved in cutting titanium is a true fireworks show, hard to miss, also takes a bit longer to cut)

Stainless.. never saw any (stainless steel cable is not that kind of stainless, but a road tanker or ship tanker for chemical substances sure is the right stainless proper for negative temperatures)

Best lock you can have, just ride and don't stop. (also chaining your pitbull to the bike works for small amounts of time if trained right)
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