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There goes one locking strategy out the window!

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There goes one locking strategy out the window!

Old 01-13-07, 07:05 PM
  #1  
KnhoJ
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There goes one locking strategy out the window!

I was down in Portland last weekend, and came across something unusual: A tire U-locked to a bike rack. Next to a cut cable. Right alongside the eastbound Max line (I think that's Yamhill?) around 4th or 5th.
I'm guessing that someone locked the rear wheel, and used the cable for the front. I'm continuing to guess that whoever nabbed it clipped the rear wheel with bolt cutters, or at least cut through most of the way and twisted to break the rim. The steel tire beads didn't look like they got cut all the way through, and so the cut tire was left locked to the rack.
So, in other words, the "Sheldon" method of locking the rear wheel inside the rear triangle isn't exactly foolproof. It's also pretty obvious that about a billion Saturday lookie-loo pedestrians in that busy area, maybe even a Max train full of passengers, didn't raise any significant fuss over the theft: Picture this, someone whips out a big set of bolt cutters. Clips the cable. Finagles them into the rim between the same spokes as the u-lock, heeeeaave, BANG!! goes the tire, then a few strong-arm twists of the bolt cutters to break the rim. If the frame was in the lock as well, it could be clipped the same way. Drops the cutters, grabs both sides of the broken rim and wrenches open enough room to get the lock out. But the tire's bead is intact! Flips the quick release, removes the mangled rim, and peels off the tire and tube. Gathers up the bike, wheel, cutters, and leaves. Maybe the thief even stood around for a few minutes and hopped on the next Max?
I guess it's not good to rely on a busy area, either. There's a ton of foot traffic right there, and no parking for a getaway vehicle; you'd have to park on the Max tracks!

I'm almost used to seeing stripped bikes and remains of mostly stolen bikes around Vancouver and Portland. Most of these kinds of theft are easy enough to avoid; it's usually a missing quick release seat, a missing wheel that wasn't locked, just a front wheel locked to a rack, so forth. This one was a shock to me, seeing the determination of the thief in contrast to the complacency of the witnesses, and the usually effective locking methods. I don't think, with a good u-lock and a cable, it would have been possible to stop this thief. The cable was worthless, and even if the u-lock had been routed through both wheels, frame, and a crankring, I think this guy might have been willing to destroy whatever that lock went through or just strip the bike on the spot. Creepy. I'm a little more appreciative of my dirty, scratched suntour components now!
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Old 01-13-07, 07:26 PM
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You see a tire u-locked to a rack. The tire is intact. And, then you "imagine" there was once a bike at the rack. And you "imagine" how a crook stole the bike.

Of course, given the only tangible evidence: an intact tire and an intact lock, there are other possibilities. In my neighborhood, self-style street artists are always doing stuff that will both attract and puzzle folks who see their "art".

A couple of years ago, that street "art" included hanging a tennis shoe from a thirty foot power line. All over the neighborhood, you'd be walking along, and over your head, there would be one tennis shoe, dangling from a power line.

So, in my area, I'd suspect that "intact bike tire + lock" was some sort of joke by a street artist.

The method you describe might be used by a bike's owner to free a bike after losing the key. It would never be used by a crook. There are methods that skilled crooks use to break "average" u-locks in far less time than the method you have depicted. And, real crooks would never bother using a method that takes ten or fifteen minutes of hard work (with the risk of an irate owner showing up) when they can take most bikes in under a minute, given that most bikes use only a cable lock, or a Wal-Mart level u-lock.
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Old 01-13-07, 07:58 PM
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Sounds a lot more feasible to me that the guy leaves his U-lock attached to the rack because he comes through there a lot and for some other reason he left a tire there too (spare, unforeseen changes in weather changes, just bought a new one and didn't feel like dragging the old or new one wherever he was going, etc.) Your version, although a lot more fun, seems a bit far fetched
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Old 01-13-07, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
You see a tire u-locked to a rack. The tire is intact. And, then you "imagine" there was once a bike at the rack. And you "imagine" how a crook stole the bike.

Of course, given the only tangible evidence: an intact tire and an intact lock, there are other possibilities. In my neighborhood, self-style street artists are always doing stuff that will both attract and puzzle folks who see their "art".
It's possible, an artist might have been inspired to roughly cut a bicycle tire, leaving the wire bead intact but mangled, cut up a cable lock into a few pieces, and left it there all locked and arranged. But all of the artists I've met who get into random social experiments like this wouldn't have spent all that money on a heavy cable and fat yellow u-lock.
If that was my bike, it would have to be a real pile of trash for me to do this to it. Either the bike would be worth more than the lock, in which case I'd take some sort of proof of ownership (with my luck I'd be the first "bike thief" ever in the history of mankind to be confronted) and power tool that lock in twain; or the lock is worth more than the bike, and I'd turn the house upside down and shake it until the key fell out.
If the street crews had cleaned up an abandoned bike, they wouldn't have left this mess.
In any case, Portland has plenty of bike thieves. Stuff like this is good to keep in mind 'round these parts.
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Old 01-13-07, 08:38 PM
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Austin is pretty bad in some areas. There are many stripped bikes.

My personal opinion is that SB's method is still quite sound. Adding a set of Pitlocks (a pair of skewers that take a hex wrench to tighten/loosen from Nashbar is a less secure option, but slows down someone expecting to just flip a quick release and be off) makes the method even more secure.

mechBgon's method is what I use, making sure that neither lock on the bike is near the ground, but I have a place where I can lock a bike to two independant posts.
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Old 01-14-07, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by KnhoJ
I was down in Portland last weekend, and came across something unusual.....
I don't live in the big city (ugh!) but here's a thought: use two good large U-locks, put both of them through the rear wheel, both of them through the frame and both of them around the bike rack, and then your bike is twice as hard to steal as everyone else's is.
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Old 01-14-07, 06:31 PM
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nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool
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Old 01-15-07, 11:18 AM
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So, in other words, the "Sheldon" method of locking the rear wheel inside the rear triangle isn't exactly foolproof.
If the U-lock is around the frame, wheel, and object, how can there be only a u-lock and wheel left but no frame? I doubt the crook cut the frame.
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Old 01-15-07, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by slowandsteady
If the U-lock is around the frame, wheel, and object, how can there be only a u-lock and wheel left but no frame? I doubt the crook cut the frame.
The "Sheldon" method being alluded to does not put the u-lock around the frame, Sheldon( Brown)'s contention being that it's so difficult to do what the OP described that no thief in their right mind (sic) would waste the time.

As to the Is It A Crime Scene Or Is It Art? debate, I think Occam's Razor has something to say about both scenarios.
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Old 01-15-07, 04:38 PM
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I was gonna say, when I lock, it goes through the rear wheel and around the frame. If they cut through the frame, the bike's just about worthless anyway.
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Old 01-15-07, 05:39 PM
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It could also be that the bike owner lost his key.
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Old 01-15-07, 06:11 PM
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I've seen bikes securely locked to a bike rack but having been hit or kicked so that the rear wheel is a taco. Just common vandalism. Of course things happen that are odd. Tweakers will do anything if its 3am and a bike is in reach. Aluminum recycling brings money and bikes bring money.
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Old 01-15-07, 07:43 PM
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The Sheldon method is not claimed to be foolproof.

Sheldon are you there?
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