October 30, 2014

When It's Okay to Steal Bikes

Got a favorite tool for stealing bikes? Casey Neistat does, and he's not afraid to use it. Sometimes it's okay to steal a bike, he says. When? When it's nobody's bike. Take a listen:

October 23, 2014

Those Thieving Danes

The Danish like their bikes, sure, but a new study reveals that they also like other people's bikes. Enough to steal them. According to a YouGov poll conducted for Danish insurance company Alm. Brand, 17% of Danes have stolen a bicycle.

Before you start re-envisioning your typical Dane—accessorizing that tall, attractive blond(e) with a pair of bolt cutters, perhaps—know that, in bike-clogged Copenhagen, cyclists often leave their rides untethered, merely propping them somewhere amidst a mess of other bikes. A would-be bike thief in the Danish capital, then, needn't tote tools.

Nor, supposedly, do the perpetrators of Danish bike thefts—200 bikes are stolen in Denmark per day—supply chop shops or finance meth habits. Coverage of the Alm. Brand poll invariably attributes the 17% figure in part to the indiscretions of Danish youth. The nightlife dies down, the story goes, and party-goers with relatively few transportation options avail themselves of the city's unlocked bikes.

Seems innocent enough, maybe, but the "borrowed" bikes are seldom returned, and only the owners of expensive rides can enlist law enforcement for help in bike recovery. Copenhagen police do not investigate thefts in which the value of the stolen goods is less than 100,000 kroner (~$17,000). All told, bike theft ends up costing Danish insurance companies on the order of 200 million kroner ($34.4 million) per year.

No word yet on what action they might take to cut these losses.

October 16, 2014

It CAN—and Does!—Happen Here

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security, cyclists: Bikejacking happens here, too. The first I'd heard of bike-theft-under-threat-of-bodily-harm was a June story about bikejacking in South Africa, but now I learn that such crimes happen in Cleveland, and with some frequency.

Cleveland's NewsNet5 reports two bikejackings in the same week: (1) a 24-year-old man stabbed and relieved of his wallet, phone, and bicycle and (2) a man robbed of his bike while waiting for a bus. In August an Ohio City man lost his bike to a shotgun-toting assailant with a bandana over his face.

How to avoid falling victim to such attacks? Plan your routes, a commuter tells the camera crew. Steer clear of poorly lit or near-deserted areas. And if you don't have the bodily heft to deter could-be bikejackers, consider packing some pepper spray.

October 9, 2014


The Kickstarters just keep coming. Obviously lots of budding entrepreneurs are keen to combat bike theft (and perhaps make a buck. too?). This latest funding opportunity is brought to you by Curtis Dorrington of Bristol, UK. He's seeking financial support for the manufacture of Quick Caps, fit-and-forget mechanisms that put your quick releases on lockdown. Take a look:

Dorrington believes that his creation fills a real and long-felt need: "We would like to promote our products with the prefix 'FINALLY' because we aim to FINALLY address current issues, answer the questions of improvement and fill the very clear voids in today's climate."

Let's save the world, one theft-proofed (or at least theft-deterred) wheel at a time...

October 7, 2014

Sign the Petition, People

Seattle Met ran a feature about bike theft in its October issue. "This Is What Happens to Your Bike After It's Stolen" is most interesting for those in or at least familiar with the Emerald City, but click through to see the accompanying artwork if nothing else. Todd McLellan's graphic of a bicycle's multitudinous parts, disconnected from one another but still arranged in roughly the proper configuration, calls to mind the chop shops described in Casey Jaywork's text.

Most striking to me were the piece's revelations about Craigslist:
Whereas eBay and Facebook feature 'back doors' for law enforcement to track suspected thefts, [Stolen Bike Registry founder Bryan] Hance says, Craigslist’s tiny San Francisco staff relies on users to flag illegal or inappropriate posts. But read the fine print: Craigslist’s terms of use stipulate that when it comes to site moderation, the company has 100 percent authority and 0 percent responsibility, making it difficult for aboveboard users to organize against illicit sellers. 'The minute you start pointing out that they’ve got stolen goods, you’ve violated their terms of service and they’ll send you a cease and desist,' Hance says. The terms also nix bots that can comb the site for postings whose descriptions match stolen goods, as part of a larger strategy by the for-profit company to prevent competitors from using its data.
And eBay, too, had suffered in my estimation by article's end. Jaywork tells the story of how a "scrupulously honest bike buff in Maryland" bought on eBay a used frame that turned out to be a $8,300 Mudhoney stolen from Seattle resident Whitney Rosa nine months earlier. The buyer asked for the serial number during the online auction, but, since the seller offered a lame excuse for withholding it, didn't get a chance to check it until the frame arrived. Upon determining that the bike had been reported stolen, the buyer contacted Seattle police, eBay, Whitney Rosa, and other customers (presumably to alert them that they, too, might be in possession of stolen property).

According to the sketchy (and subsequently busted) seller at least, this last part of the buyer's action was in violation of eBay policy. "It has come to our attention that you have broken a serious eBay policy and contacted past buyers regarding transactions they completed with us," wrote the seller. "This is harassment & a serious eBay policy violation… Please stop playing vigilante."

What both eBay and Craigslist should do is require serial numbers on bike listings. Seattle's Project 529 is collecting signatures on a petition to that effect. BTB covered the effort back in June, but it's not too late to learn more and express your support.  

October 2, 2014

Das sicherste Fahrradschloss der Welt?

Even its (German) makers seem undecided about whether this gizmo is the most secure (sicherste) bike lock in the world or the craziest (verr├╝ckteste). Take a look at the latest television spot from Conrad Electronic:

("You have the fun," reads the captioning. "We have the technology.")

"Aber wer sagt, dass das nur Profis schaffen…?" asks Conrad on a webpage devoted to the construction of the bike elevator. (That is: "But who says that only professionals make that?") With (1) components available through Conrad itself (of course), (2) the instructions provided (both a video and an Explosionszeichnung=exploded assembly drawing), and, perhaps, (3) a reasonable command of German, you, too, can power your bike up a pole and out of thieves' reach.

You, too, in other words, could own das ultimative diebstahlsichere Fahrradschloss (the ultimate, burglarproof bike lock)—at least until the bike snatcher adds a ladder to his kit.