September 30, 2013

The Cardboard Cop Deterrent

Though I first got wind of the cardboard-cop-as-bike-theft-deterrent in this Grist story, the ability of a life-size, two-dimensional likeness of a police officer to decrease the number of bikes stolen from Boston's Alewife subway station caught the attention of outlets from Fox to Esquire.

Check out the NewsBreaker clip below or buy your own corrugated policeman. The challenge will be figuring out how to fold him into a portable pannier-size package for pop-up protection wherever your next ride takes you.

Death to Bike Thieves

One of the first things I did the day my bike got stolen—along with posting a picture on Facebook and emailing the serial number to the police officer handling my case and compulsively scanning Craigslist for Cannondale 29ers—was register my onetime ride with While there, I ordered one of the stickers on offer.
SBR's sales pitch had my mental state pegged perfectly: "Not only will you be helping supporting the cause, but you'll [be] making your intentions clear to any future would-be bike thieves out there."

The sticker sat on my desk for months, though, before I polled my Facebook friends:
If you were a bike thief and you saw a bike with a "Death to bike thieves" sticker on it, do you think that observation would make you more likely or less likely to try to remove the titanium lock securing the bike?
A few of my bike-concerned acquaintances offered opinions, but the most extensive and relevant back-and-forth developed between me and my friend Matt (not a cyclist, to my knowledge).

Matt's initial reaction: "If I were a bike thief, I would not want people advocating my early and abrupt demise. That might make me more likely to steal your bike as both (a) retribution for your displeasing opinion, as well as (b) a response to the actual incentive you created to get that sticker off the streets. On the other hand, if I had a sense of humor or reason to fear you, it would probably go the other way."

The conversation continued:

I went ahead and stuck the sticker on my down tube, but the jury's still out: Does the sticker deter theft or just egg the bastards on? How can I make my bike better project a don't-mess-with-me attitude? These mylar NRA decals can supposedly "be affixed to practically everything"...

(For more on the cop cutout, see "The Cardboard Cop Deterrent.")

September 29, 2013

What and Why

I am a victim of bike theft, but my story is not an extraordinary one. There was the cut cable lock; the same I-never-thought-it-would-happen-to-me feeling I imagine attends many an unplanned pregnancy; the boyfriend (and bike godfather) who almost hurled his phone away from him in anger when he received the bad news via text. ("My pissed off ness is out of control over this. I will calm down so I don't fucking scream right now.")
I was pissed, too, of course, and this blog is an outgrowth of that post-theft fury. Three imperatives loomed large after my bike was stolen, three imperatives I bet will resonate with anyone who has experienced bike theft. I wanted to 
  • recover the stolen bike,
  • better secure my bike in the future, and
  • avenge myself.
To serve not only my needs but those of its intended audience—anyone who has had a bike stolen, anyone who wants to keep a beloved bike from getting stolen, and anyone who dreams of striking fear into the hearts of bike thieves everywhere—Bike Thieves Beware will
  • aggregate stories of bike theft (fortuitous reunions, sweet revenge, tragic losses);
  • spread the word about innovations in bike security;
  • collect resources for victims of bike theft;
  • publicize efforts to curb bike theft; and
  • give readers the chance to share stories and strategies as well as weigh in on questions relevant to keeping our two-wheelers safe.
Let's do this!