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Tackling bike theft

edited August 2009 in Campaign
Couple of posters on the commuting forum have had their bikes or parts stolen in recent days. I also saw an article in the London Bog Standard saying bike theft in London is up 75% in the last year - the comments at the end of the article are interesting as well http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23731158-details/Bike+thefts+soar+75+as+crime+gangs+move+in/article.do

So what can be done to address bike crime. The police regard it as low level (despite the price of some bikes) and the met's approach appears to be to blame the victim or to tell us to use less expensive bikes - doubt they'd offer the same advice to drivers.

Many police forces say mark your bike yet most don't have the technology to read infrared markings - or can't be bothered.

Gum Tree and Ebay could both easiliy insist that bikes must be advertised with the frame number in the heading - but that's not going to happen now is it...

Perhaps we need some kind of bike logbook which is required when buying or selling?
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  • downfaderdownfader Posts: 3,686
    Advice on owners:

    1. note down frame number and security tags if you've had any put on there
    2. Take LOTs if photos (inc of 1.)
    3. Keep the recepts/manuals incase you want to sell it on so you have proof of purchase
    4. ALWAYs use good quality locks, even on cheap bikes or bikes that are left for only a few minutes. Never buy cable locks, use high quality chain locks instead and try not to leave gaps between the chain and the part you are securing

    5. Check on your bike during breaks/randomly if locked in public
    6. If bike is to unused for a while, say you're going away on holiday, leave it inside the house and use your locks to secure it to furniture. And/or remove and hide the brake pads somewhere to deter anyone riding it off

    Advice to buyers of secondhand bikes:
    1. If the owner doesnt feel right, or is rushing you dont buy.
    2. If the bike has supposedly been bought from new does the seller have the instructions and receipts?
    3. Is there damage to the frame or wheels as if something has been cut or prised off?
    4. Do not buy on the day, take down the frame number, and any security tag IDs and enter those into Google and cycle forums (or fora?)

    You can also 5. Google the seller's name and see if it pops up against any convictions printed in the local papers. Bearing in mind there are often many people with the same name in an area so compare age groups or look for photos etc. Kind of a last resort but preferable to just act on 1.

    Those are my golden rules
  • I remember 20 years ago there was something called the Coded Cycle Scheme where the local cop shop would stamp your postcode in the underside of the bottom bracket. Does anyone know if that scheme helped to reduce bike theft, and are there any similar schemes now?

    Perhaps we could all bombard eBay and Gumtree with e-mails demanding that the frame number (and a photo of) be required for any bike listing? Maybe Gumtree won't care, but eBay might be willing cuz they can't be seen to be anti-social - remember when they were pulled up on BBC Watchdog for allowing knife listings? If anyone on this site has had a bike nicked, or bought a stolen bike by mistake, can you contact BBC Watchdog and maybe they'll run a feature if there's enough demand. I'm sure they won't mind demonising eBay all over again. :twisted:

    I'd be in favour of a national bike database, with a website and fone number, that anyone can access to check if a bike is stolen. Individuals, police, LBS, etc could then find out in seconds if a bike is dodgy.

    Let's hear a few ideas, then we can e-mail our MPs and ask them to lobby for such a register. Surely it wouldn't cost a huge amount of public funds to implement, and would save a lot of police time in the long run.

    What do others here think?

    Downfader: what's wrong with cable-locks as opposed to a chain? Also, how do you lock your bike without leaving a gap between the chain and the part to be secured? At the mo I use two locks, one for the front wheel and one for the rear, passing the chain through both the wheel and main part of the frame. By definition this is going to leave a short run of chain that some scrote can get a grinder/bolt croppers to. Is there a better way?
  • downfaderdownfader Posts: 3,686
    Cable locks are notoriously easy to cut with croppers. Sadly loads of vids on youtube of oiks bragging, pretending that they are educating everyone.

    With my chain I wrap it around twice to make any gaps miniscule. If its not at home or in the work'slockup it gets a top o the range D lock to accompany it.

    I dont think any register is going to work when the current identification marks such as frame numbers are not recorded by even orginal owners in the vast majority of cases. It'd be like buying a motorbike and not looking at the plates, ever. There are tool and techniques there to stop or limit this, but people and the Police wont often use them.

    BTW a number of Police Forces have produced videos on how to lock your bike, so too have the CTC I think. Sounds like you've made a good effort, mikeyboy
  • blu3catblu3cat Posts: 1,016
    Had mine marked about last weekend by the local Police (Merton). They noted the frame number, bike make, manufacturer, and the used an acid etch paint to mark the bike with a unique serial number and freephone number to call if you find it. Lastly a big(ish) (1"x3" or so) sticker saying this bike is on the police database. Have used the paint at work to mark equipment and it is near impossible to remove without leaving marks.

    They also said I can expect a "log book" in the near future. So seems like a good idea. Seems v similar in concept to car logbook from what they said. Will keep you all informed when (and if) it turns up.
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  • Cheers downfader! TBH, I only carry locks for when I need to stop at a shop or pub to stock up on energy - at home the bike lives in the front room (so it can watch Eurosport :D ) and at work it stays in the office (to the annoyance of my work colleagues!). I'll be def buying chains and a D-lock from now on.

    As for the national register-thing that I was on about: I guess www.immobilise.com is as good as anyone'll ever get, and I had no idea of it's existence! Bike's now registered. I still think there should be a compulsory registration scheme with manufacturers and retailers playing a big part.
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