September 30, 2013

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.")

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