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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited by Moderator)
A couple of years back I had a cheap bike stolen I didn't think anyone would ever steal. It was no big loss, I got a nicer bike as a result but I'm wondering if anyone has any tips about not getting a bike stolen or for getting one back if it is.

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Yes; I've had two bikes stolen.

First one was as a young kid of maybe 13. I left it unattended and unlocked outside a building for mere minutes. Gone.

As an adult, I commuted to a bike shop as a part time employee. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and after finishing the day working at the bike shop I rode the 15 miles or so home. On the way, I stopped at an outdoors gear store because I needed new winter gloves. I realized I did not have my lock but I deliberately made an assessment of the likelihood of my bike being stolen based on the location, foot traffic, and other factors and concluded for the 10 minutes or less I would be in the store it wouldn't be a problem.

I was wrong.

My custom Bilenky Signature Clubsman was gone, along with my tool bag strapped to the rear rack.

Tips: Always lock the bike to a fixed object. Any lock is better than no lock, because even if it's stolen, you won't feel like a dope when you report to the police and insurance company. If you're riding with someone else, leave someone with the bikes if you can. Lock the bike in a high traffic area; the more eyes the less a thief will want to cut a lock with people watching. As an alternative, place the bike out of sight of ALL eyes so even thieves won't know it exists. Consider owning a cheaper bike if you expect a ride will require leaving a bike unattended, even if locked. Assess the location for the potential theft of a bike.
 

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When I was in HS (circa 1990) you could still buy a bike at a garage sale for $5. I got one that would barely hold together rolling down a hill, but got it to eventually 'work', all 5 gears at the back (the front did not work), until the left crank fell off again, and I would put it back on. The RD bent when I jumped it off a curb so made it 1 speed. I rode that everywhere. Then my dad rode it to the mall, determined nobody would steal a POS like this, and came back to find out he too was wrong (he lost 2 similar bikes of his own the same way).

One year I bought a 'real' bike at a LBS, and rode it to HS, chained it to a fence, for a while, until someone else needed it more than I did. Couple of years later I did about the same thing, until a different person just went to my folks' home for it. So I was 0 for (n+1) during high school.

I ride to HS now too, but all the kids have much nicer bikes (and cars, and everything) than I (and even the principal) do, so nobody looks at my things. Plus, I know all the gossip and where everybody lives.

Tips? Lock it with a real lock, but not to a wire fence.
 

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I used to ride on a route where a well known bike shop was a popular rest stop. People park bikes there unprotected all the time thinking they are safe by numbers. A few years back, a thief came by riding on his junker bike, left the junker bike behind and rode away on someone's high end bike.

Always lock - even for just a pee break.
 

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In the USA at least, there is a kind of "finders keepers" mentality to finding an unlocked bike, almost as if it were an unattended rock (or a piece of jewelry perhaps). Children often leave toys behind, unattended, and their bikes too, and some kids develop the attitude that someone is going to take this "found item" home and it might as well be ME. Somehow, this gets extended into adulthood and an unlocked $600 bike, or maybe even a $3,000 bike, are considered fair game for taking; "Look what I found!". Such people seem to think that "finding" an unlocked bike isn't really theft, it's like a kind of sport (which doesn't apply to things like automobiles and to some degree it's linked to the chances of being caught and prosecuted). People who would never consider taking a motorboat with a keyed ignition might not think too much about taking an unattended canoe for a trip downstream. To some degree, bike theft is an issue of cultural perception then.

This all goes along the lines of a cable lock being used to "keep honest people honest". Of course, if one takes any bike (or any piece of jewelry) then it IS stealing, a criminal act, and that person IS a thief and NOT an honest person.
 

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I have never left my bike outside unattended. I also never carry a bike lock. I have also never had a problem with any store or business letting me bring the bicycle inside and leaving it within view. I did however have to leave my bike at the security office over the weekends at the hotel I was living at, I was flying out Mon and returning Thur night every week for 5 years to Indianapolis, hotel let me store my bike in the hotel security office rather than the bike storage area in the parking lot... I guess it helps when you make friends with the staff.. since those are the people you will see more than anyone else during travel.. I would take my bike into the stores and office with me whenever I rode around. Indy however appears to be rather cycling friendly compare to some places.. so I guess ymmv.

And as a kid.. I may or may not have been the one to see an unlocked bike and go "hey finders keepers".... I was a terrible child.. that was in the 80s.. but it was less about stealing to sell it.. and more stealing it for a joyride.. and leaving it somewhere random........

Yes; I've had two bikes stolen.

First one was as a young kid of maybe 13. I left it unattended and unlocked outside a building for mere minutes. Gone.

As an adult, I commuted to a bike shop as a part time employee. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and after finishing the day working at the bike shop I rode the 15 miles or so home. On the way, I stopped at an outdoors gear store because I needed new winter gloves. I realized I did not have my lock but I deliberately made an assessment of the likelihood of my bike being stolen based on the location, foot traffic, and other factors and concluded for the 10 minutes or less I would be in the store it wouldn't be a problem.

I was wrong.

My custom Bilenky Signature Clubsman was gone, along with my tool bag strapped to the rear rack.

Tips: Always lock the bike to a fixed object. Any lock is better than no lock, because even if it's stolen, you won't feel like a dope when you report to the police and insurance company. If you're riding with someone else, leave someone with the bikes if you can. Lock the bike in a high traffic area; the more eyes the less a thief will want to cut a lock with people watching. As an alternative, place the bike out of sight of ALL eyes so even thieves won't know it exists. Consider owning a cheaper bike if you expect a ride will require leaving a bike unattended, even if locked. Assess the location for the potential theft of a bike.
 

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I had two Schwinn's stolen out of my locked garaged in the mid 90's (I think. It was so long ago). One was a steel Pretendamount (Japanese Paramount) and the other was a silver Schwinn Fastback with Dura Ace 8 speed. In the picture I had just finished building up the bike and threw on a set of Velocity Deep-V wheels just so I could test her out. Subsequently, I had some custom "Schwinn" decals made and put on a set of AClass ALX 300 wheels (super cheap knockoff version of Rolf's which were becoming popular at the time)

Flash foward about 20 years and I was skimming through Criagslist and I come upon a fimiliar bike. It was my silver Schwinn Fasback for sale. The bike on Craigslist had a different stem and the saddle and seatpost were replaced but everything else was there including the Schwinn branded water bottle cages. I emailed the seller and wrote him that was my bike and it was stolen out of my garage 20 years ago only my bike had a 0 degree, 130mm DEAN mtn bike stem, A 410mm Thomson seat post in 26.0 and an San Marco Regal saddle with titanium rivets. Suprisingly he admited that when I bought the bike it had all those parts but he took them off for other bike builds he was doing. He said he bought and sold bikes as a side hobby and didn't want any bad karma coming his way so he offered to give the bike back. I was thankful and asked how much he paid for the bike and I would reimburse him. He paid $100.

Before she was stolen.


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How she looks like today.
Bicycle Tire Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Wheel Bicycle wheel rim
 

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A couple of years back I had a cheap bike stolen I didn't think anyone would ever steal. It was no big loss, I got a nicer bike as a result but I'm wondering if anyone has any tips about not getting a bike stolen or for getting one back if it is.
Always lock your bike unless you have someone with you who can watch it while you are away. IMHO two U-locks are best.
I've had two bikes stolen. The first was locked to a pole using a cable lock while I was inside a restaurant for dinner, about 1+hour. The second was locked with a Kryptonite cable lock in a hospital garage with cameras, while I was in for radiation therapy - less than 30 minutes. In both cases the local police didn't do anything. In the second case the bike was a Trek Domane (carbon frame) only a couple of years old and worth $2000 +. Even though the value of the bike made it a grand theft, and there was camera evidence, police wanted nothing to do with it. FWIW my home insurance agent advised me against filing a claim because my home insurance might get cancelled.
 

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A constant nightmare for 40 years. I've been lucky.

The only bike I leave out on the sidewalk is a nondescript steel black road bike with fenders, 36 spoked aluminum wheels and downtube shifters. Hear tell old black bikes with fenders aren't as cool as ones without fenders in colors other than black. In the city, I leave it locked to a tree or light post with an old Kryptonite U lock, the one you can unlock sticking a BIC pen into the key socket. I leave this bike outside the Safeway attached by a cable lock to a wrought iron fence post. A bolt cutter could snap it apart in 30 seconds. I look at cable as a deterrent to opportunists without bolt cutters.

Seems like testimony here and on other threads point to so much bike theft as crimes of opportunity, teenagers joy riding, crack heads financing their next rock, The quick cash market would be $50 across the board. I've known cases like above where the owner sees his bike on craigs list and buys it back! He usually gets a great deal! Read online a commuter hung his nice bike on the rack on the front of a bus, but didn't cable lock it to the rack. As soon as the bus pulled to a stop some kid stepped forward, lifted the bike off the rack and rode off.

Out at those fast food stops in the country, we'd take our expensive race bikes behind the building, behind the dumpster, out of sight, or we left at least one of us to guard the bikes at all times. If I had to leave the bike on the street unattended in a big city, I'd seriously consider installing one of those GPS devices that tells where the bike is located at the moment.
 

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I've had three bike stolen in my lifetime, 2 BMX and 1 Schwinn 10 speed.

The first BMX (Red-line) was stolen back in the late 70's, left outside in front of McDonalds. I recall this because I had to walk home from Van Nuys CA to where I lived in Canoga Park CA... it was very long walk!

The second BMX (Mongoose) was stolen from our house in early eighties, living in Portland OR the bike was laying in the driveway, when I went to go put it garage... it was nowhere to be found... homeowners insurance covered.

The third, Schwinn 10 speed was stolen from the school back racks (Aloha OR), had a lock around the frame... the lock was cut and left behind.... school covered the cost for a replacement.

.... the moral of story, i rarely leave me bikes unattended anymore and less its locked on my cars backrack, and that can still be risk!
 

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I had my Schwinn Corvette stolen from my front porch was I was 15 and I still haven't gotten over it. I would love to have that bike bike, even though I have a garage full of bikes today.
 

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Made the mistake in 3rd or 4th grade of leaving my Mongoose BMX unlocked, with the lock right next to it, in the front yard. I think I even heard the people who stole it in the middle of the night and just didn't think anything of it at the time. Parents didn't even really get mad at me, as the life lesson was well learned that day. I didn't get another bike until junior high. I still miss the Mongoose.

Edit:
Oh, and also in college girlfriend had a Rockhopper that I spent a lot of time and money customizing and upgrading. After we broke up, somebody stole it straight out of the house she was living in at the time, like her bedroom or something. Some of her friends and possibly she thought I did it, which bothered me to no end. For the entire last year of school I carried an extra U-Lock with me in case I saw it parked somewhere on campus going to and from classes. That bike was darn near perfect geometry wise, a blast to ride. It probably ended up in a creek or at the flea market.
 

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Around '04 or so I decided I wanted to race BMX again. I put together a Free Agent cruiser and got all sorts of trick parts for it. Raced most of a season and had a really good time. My boss had opened a store in the Marina district of SF, the main store was in Sausalito. The store was open 5 days a week, I worked there 4 days w/ one of the other guys from the Sausalito store. The owner worked there 1 day a week, by himself. I had left the FA there and when I came back after my day at the other store it was gone. Apparently the owner had gotten distracted doing something in the shop and wasn't paying attention to the front of the store. I called him and asked about it, he never even said he was sorry. If anyone is from the north bay and is a road cyclist they most likely know who I'm talking about. It was partially my fault for not stashing it in the back or locking it up, it was hard to get over. Getting a bike stolen really sucks.
 

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Below is a recent incident from my local biking community:

"I recently participated in the recovery of four stolen bicycles from a friend and her neighbor that was nothing short of miraculous. One of those bikes changed hands 3X across at least 3 jurisdictions on 3 different websites in less than 36 hours. When the first bike was finally recovered in a sting operation in a parking lot outside of Baltimore, the attending officer said "only 1 in 50 stolen bikes gets returned to the owner, largely because they do not know what their serial number is." We fortunately knew the serial numbers of the four bikes that we recovered."

Sadly, none of the parties involved in the theft ring were charged because they simply claimed that they did not know that they had purchased stolen goods.

The national bike registry can be found at: 529 Garage: Register. Respond. Recover. | Join the World's Largest Bicycle Registration Service to Protect Your Bike It is a non-profit organization that works with local law enforcement to curtail bike theft. This is a free service.
 

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Yeah, maybe two or three. In my long distant college days past.
 

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There have been active anti-theft devices on bicycles, i.e. electric shocker, now this is a passive one.
 

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Yes; I've had two bikes stolen.

First one was as a young kid of maybe 13. I left it unattended and unlocked outside a building for mere minutes. Gone.

As an adult, I commuted to a bike shop as a part time employee. It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving and after finishing the day working at the bike shop I rode the 15 miles or so home. On the way, I stopped at an outdoors gear store because I needed new winter gloves. I realized I did not have my lock but I deliberately made an assessment of the likelihood of my bike being stolen based on the location, foot traffic, and other factors and concluded for the 10 minutes or less I would be in the store it wouldn't be a problem.

I was wrong.

My custom Bilenky Signature Clubsman was gone, along with my tool bag strapped to the rear rack.

Tips: Always lock the bike to a fixed object. Any lock is better than no lock, because even if it's stolen, you won't feel like a dope when you report to the police and insurance company. If you're riding with someone else, leave someone with the bikes if you can. Lock the bike in a high traffic area; the more eyes the less a thief will want to cut a lock with people watching. As an alternative, place the bike out of sight of ALL eyes so even thieves won't know it exists. Consider owning a cheaper bike if you expect a ride will require leaving a bike unattended, even if locked. Assess the location for the potential theft of a bike.
 
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