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Bike theft stats...

Old 12-08-01, 11:22 PM
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Generic Rider
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Bike theft stats...

Maybe someone knows where I can find statistics on bike thefts. I'm not too interested in how many bikes are stolen, but these two questions:

1 - On bikes that are locked with the typical U-lock or chain/cable lock, in approximately what percentage of thefts the bar/chain/cable is cut or broken, and how many of the actual locks are 'picked'?

2 - Approximately what percentage of stolen bikes are grabed and thrown in an truck/van, and how many are ridden of on (where the stolen bike is the actual getaway vehicle)?

I ask question #1 because it doesn't matter too much how strong/hard the U-bar/chain/cable is, if in most cases the actual lock itself is picked.

And I ask question #2 because if most bikes are ridden off by the thief, maybe we should use brake or chain locks in addition to the U-lock/chain/cable. Still not full proof, but would slow them down.

Appreciate any information or insite on this - thanks
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Old 12-08-01, 11:46 PM
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I doubt anyone will beable to product the stats your looking for, but i personally lock my bike with two locks. I start off with an insanely heavy Kryptonite U-lock. This lock goes between my rear shock, the rear wheel and the bike rack. Once in place, there's only two spots where you could fit your finger between the lock and the bike, a thief would have a hard time getting bolt cutters around the lock, or a pry bar to pry the lock of, if they try the latter, they will basically kill the frame, and make the bike worthless.

When riding my bike to school, I would also use a 5 foot 1/2inch Kryptonite cable lock, i thread the ends of this lock through the U-Lock, the rest of the cable runs through my saddle, bottle cage, and front wheel.

I have also registered my bike with the local police departments, it cost a one time fee of $15 for the life of the bike. I have also hidden a small strip of paper with my name, phone number, and address in the bottom bracket of my bike. The note says "If you are working on this bike, it is stolen! Please call Joe Gardner, the owner of this bike at xxx-xxx-xxxx". I figure the standard thief isn't going to do any major repair work on the bike, and sooner or later it will be in a shop for work.

As for a theft picking a lock, i doubt that possible with most high quality locks. When one of my friends lost his lock key for his $20 U-Lock, we ran to the local hardware store, and rented some major bolt cutters. The handle must have been three feet long! It took just one snap to break the lock, and guess what, not a single person questioned us when we were taking the bike! This was at a major university, with some 50+ bikes locked up, and hundreds of students walking around the campus...

I have seen disk brake locks for motorcycles, but haven't seen any for bicycles, and they may not be worth it, if a thief can take the bike, and leave the front wheel, they will do it. Im not familiar with a chain lock, but it doesn't take more then a few seconds to take off a bicycle chain with a chain tool or bolt cutters.
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Old 12-08-01, 11:49 PM
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Good reading: http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/crime.html
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Old 12-09-01, 02:45 AM
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If a bike is ridden off, maybe you could invent some kind of safety device that breaks spokes when the thing is stolen. That way, the thief might be in for a short bumpy ride
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Old 12-10-01, 05:24 AM
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. Once in place, there's only two spots where you could fit your finger between the lock and the bike, a thief would have a hard time getting bolt cutters around the lock, or a pry bar to pry the lock of, if they try the latter, they will basically kill the frame, and make the bike worthless.
Filling the lock is probably the most important method of stopping a reasonably serious bike thief. The prescence of a half-way decent U-lock will probably stop an opportunist but not a tooled up thief. Leave an inch or two and a mini car jack will happily pop a lock. I believe most U-locks weakspot is wear the shackle joins the locking part and pressure works better than bolt cutters. Of course they can also try rapidly heating and freezing this point to weaken it (a mini gas torch and an aerosol don't take up much room)...

I'm just looking for a bullet-proof lock that doesn't weigh a ton. I took mine of the frame for the first time in ages yesterday and discovered my bike was much more responsive...

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Old 12-10-01, 08:33 AM
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My only solution to the bike theft problem is to own a beater bike or two, and to ride the good-looking, valuable equipment only when and where security is not an issue. Fortunately, 1970s road touring bikes are plentiful, cheap, practical, and fun to ride.
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Old 12-20-01, 08:54 PM
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This is a good question, Generic. I got interested in bike theft-- as an intellectual matter, not an activity-- about a year ago when moving. I was told that bike theft was high in my new locale, but I didn't have much of an idea of what that meant.

There is a fair amount of information around the internet, I found. Most of the reliable information is provided by police, and then insurance companies. The latter must be viewed with some suspicion, however, because of their financial interest in inflating the risk of theft (so as to motivate homeowners not to leave bikes unlocked or even to ride them around.) For example, insurance companies are the source of the oft-quoted but little supported claim that a good thief can steal a locked bike in seven seconds. Nonetheless, the insurance companies have reliable information on the cost of theft, the kinds of bikes taken, their average cost, etc.

From what I recall, the average value of a stolen bike in this country is well below $300. This should come as no surprise, since the vast majority of bikes in the country were bought new for less than that amount. Bike theft is mostly a crime of opportunity, too. Most bikes taken are not locked up at all. They're swiped from porches or backyards.

Very, very few stolen bikes are locked properly, with a high-end lock and an adequate fixed point. It happens, I know, but it's not so common as you are led to believe. It's very hard to pick higher-end locks. Breaking them is not easy, either. A high-end Kryptonite lock will foil all but a very few bike thieves, even in urban areas. An even better lock, Abus, will foil just about anyone who's not a locksmith.

(By the way, the much discussed crook who "freezes" bike locks and then cracks them with a hammer? He's a resident of the same neighborhood as the old lady who put her poodle in the microwave, the family who bought the tropical rat thinking it was a small dog, and the guy who attached rockets to his car. He's a character in an urban legend, in other words. )

Also, stolen bikes don't fetch huge amounts on the black market. Bike theft is not the province of master criminals, to put it mildly. The typical "professional" bike thief might supplement his income by collecting cans or squeegeeing your car. Again, I mean even in places like New York City. Yes, people like these can wield bolt cutters to satisfactory effect but usually aren't capable of anything more.

After looking into these matters, I decided there wasn't a serious risk of theft even in leaving even my expensive bike locked in a well-trafficked area. I do that, and I've not had trouble.

But I wouldn't leave a good bike overnight anywhere, or try to get away with a sub-par lock.
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Old 12-20-01, 10:56 PM
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Originally posted by Merriwether
I got interested in bike theft-- as an intellectual matter, not an activity-- about a year...
Well said, Merriwether. I got interested when I read somewhere that 100,000 bikes are stolen in Stockholm every year! I imagine other big cities have similar numbers. That kind of makes me wonder if bicycles aren't one of the most stolen objects in the world (after money, of course!). Like you say, most aren't properly locked, (if locked at all), and they are there own get-away vehicle. If they can get through your lock without making much noise, you probably won't hear him ride off. I believe the majority of stolen bikes are ridden away from the scene. Be neat to have a front wheel brake lock delayed about 50 feet. Just when he's getting up to about 12 or 15 mph, Oops!!!! Endo time!

Seriously, it seems like the insurance, security, and bicycle industry would get together and come up with some outline for locks, storage boxes, education of riders, etc. One thing they could do is standardize the serial number (and put them in the same place). And have a good registration database. I'm not sure what could be done, but I would think something to cut down the high number of thefts.

After buying my wife and my self new bikes recently, I went to Home Depot and told them I wanted the biggest chain and biggest padlock they have (they're kept under the patio). The chain has three-eights inch thick links. The lock was Master brand called "Contractor Grade". The U part is seven-sixteenths hardened Boron alloy. I don't think anyone could cut the chain with bolt cutters, and the lock feels like a big hunk of solid steel. Just in case they can get though it, I also put on my old U-lock and cable locks to at least slow'm down!
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Old 12-21-01, 12:48 AM
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Originally posted by Merriwether
This is a good question, Generic. I got interested in bike theft-- as an intellectual matter, not an activity--
I'm glad you clarified that.
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Old 12-21-01, 03:28 AM
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A study was just released in the Netherlands. Crime here is fourth in Europe. If you remove bicycle theft, it is fifth. But then, there are a lot of bicycles here.

I ride the trains a lot (I love them!). At every station, you see many, many bikes, and quite a few that have obviously been there for a while. They have flats or missing wheels, or other bits, etc. What happens is that people steal them to get to the station, then steal one from the station at the other end to get where they are going at their destination. Once in a great while the police come by and tag the bikes. After a period they return, and any they see with tags are impounded.

Locks appear on almost all bikes, and vary a lot. Just last week at my local station I saw a real brute - a roughly two foot cable, about an inch in diameter (including plastic covering) with one end plugging into the side of a massive keyed cylinder. It was lying there, cut in half, with no bike in the immediate vicinity.

If they really want your bike, they will get it.

Cheers...Gary
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Old 12-21-01, 03:50 AM
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Originally posted by gmason

Locks appear on almost all bikes, and vary a lot. Just last week at my local station I saw a real brute - a roughly two foot cable, about an inch in diameter (including plastic covering) with one end plugging into the side of a massive keyed cylinder. It was lying there, cut in half, with no bike in the immediate vicinity.

If they really want your bike, they will get it.
I guess the best thing to do is never leave your bike alone, or don't use it if you're planning to go off on foot somewhere...

I always put my bike in my office at work where I can see it...if I go off anywhere, I lock the office door, which is inside a locked building...unfortunately, I think I very lucky in this, and not everyone can do this.

Be vigilant out there!

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Old 12-21-01, 03:53 AM
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I agree. While we use our city bikes for short shopping trips, and lock them with Axa locks, our Vittorios never get left anywhere unless I can see them, and can get to them faster than someone can get away with them.

Cheers...Gary
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Old 12-21-01, 04:13 PM
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I find the best thing to do is lock your bike in an area in which cars are parked nearby. Thieves can break into most cars inside of 15 seconds. The cash received on the sale of a car will buy more drugs than the sale of a bike. Hence, they'll just about always steal the car instead.
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Old 12-22-01, 02:36 AM
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Reminds me of something I saw when I first got interested. Written by a student at one of the nearby universities.

He said first, don't buy a bike when someone comes up and offers you one - and they will - for 50 Guilders (about $20), because it is stolen. And don't park it in the tunnel that is apparently well known around there for keeping bikes out of the rain. You might as well just hand it to a drug user and save yourself the time of locking it up.

Cheers...Gary
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Old 04-21-02, 07:51 AM
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Originally posted by Joe Gardner

. I have also hidden a small strip of paper with my name, phone number, and address in the bottom bracket of my bike. The note says "If you are working on this bike, it is stolen! Please call Joe Gardner, the owner of this bike at xxx-xxx-xxxx". I figure the standard thief isn't going to do any major repair work on the bike, and sooner or later it will be in a shop for work.
How exactly did you get it in? Does it create any disturbance to the working of the bike?

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Old 04-21-02, 08:26 AM
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My joe Gardner $15 dollars to register your bike, here it is only 50 cents for lifetime of the bike.

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Old 04-21-02, 09:21 AM
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I found this company advertised in this months MBR magazine. It looks like the system dog owners use where a hand scanner will pick up all the info on a hidden tag. I says that in Japan, where the product comes form, motorbikes that are tagged and have the datatag sticker on are TEN times less likely to be stolen. The ad in MBR said the hole kit and registration costs 15. I'm definitely going to register my bike.

DATATAG
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Old 04-21-02, 12:27 PM
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Those are all good ideas. I know that a good pair of police handcuffs (not exactly sure if, or where some of you could get them) Are very cheap and effective, especially if you have a few pair. They are pretty hard to pick, and easy to carry, so multiple pairs are usable. They are just another way to make the theif think twice. If they really want the bike, there are many ways of getting it. Oh, did i mention getting to be friends with the local theifs, you can also get good deals too.
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Old 04-30-02, 07:14 AM
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Hi,

I had a bike stolen once, from a college campus. It was locked with a U-lock but the thief must have picked it somehow. I think I saw someone riding it once a few days later.
Anyway I found it again locked up, with my lock! So I used my key and took it back and kept it in my room after that.
Brian
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Old 04-30-02, 12:02 PM
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Originally posted by Merriwether

(By the way, the much discussed crook who "freezes" bike locks and then cracks them with a hammer? He's a resident of the same neighborhood as the old lady who put her poodle in the microwave, the family who bought the tropical rat thinking it was a small dog, and the guy who attached rockets to his car. He's a character in an urban legend, in other words. ) [/B]
Heh. Actually, I think the rocket guy was real--he won a Darwin Award back in the 90's. The Darwin Award is given to whoever killed themselves in the most stupid way the previous year, thus improving the gene pool by their removal. Anyone who wants to read the accounts of terminal stupidity-- http://www.darwinawards.com

On the subject, though, there was an angry letter written to the Appleton newspaper last week. A woman was complaining that her child had just had her 5th bicycle stolen out of their back yard. You'd think by the fifth, they'd have learned not to leave bikes in the back yard.... (No mention of locks was made, BTW.)
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Old 04-30-02, 01:24 PM
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I usually try to lock my bike next to a nicer bike which is locked up with a cheaper lock than mine.
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Old 04-30-02, 06:10 PM
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i ride my 20 incher to school every day and get there early so its underneath the pile of other non-locked bikes of my freinds. hafe to wait for them to take thier bikes of so i don't woirry.
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