Thursday, 18 November 2010

Beating bike thieves

Every now and then I post something useful to the Kingston Wheelers forum (sort of like the proverbial infinite number of monkeys typing at infinite keyboards, yada yada) and it occurs to me that it might be nice to post it to the wider world. So today's blog topic, beating bike thieves -- not literally although if faced with one in real life I might like to give him a beating -- is in response to a clubmate trying to track down his nicked bike and see the thief prosecuted and a timely Guardian bike blog post.

Another well-meaning clubmate writes:
It's so sad reading that the guy who has had 8 bikes stolen telling people to expect your bike not to be there when you return. It's so shitty that he has come to accept that.

My response:

The truth is, if they really want your bike, they'll take it. All the best locks and deterrents in the world are only useful to the point that it becomes too much hassle for undiscerning thieves to steal yours so they go for some other poor sucker's bike instead. But if they really want yours, they'll find a way to get it. :( This is true the world over (having lived in Vancouver, Toronto, Utrecht and now here, I've heard so many tales of stolen bikes that it's just depressing to think about).

The only answer: if you can't keep an eye on your bike all the time or lock it somewhere completely safe, then ride the crappiest bike you can that still gets you from A to B comfortably, safely and reasonably quick. Or resign yourself to having it stolen eventually. Or both.

In Holland this means the rustiest hulking piece of crap omafiets, preferably painted weird colours or covered in tape. Here it means probably an old tourer or MTB with slicks. Almost certainly not a nice 80s retro fixie, or even a modern day fixie, or a Brompton, or anything remotely racey or bling.

Sad but true. I'll admit I'm a bit paranoid about cafe stops on club runs, making sure I can always see my bike. But it only needs to happen once to make you feel completely emasculated, furious and sad.

Btw, the LFGSS forum has some good stuff:
-- the (currently 105 pages long) "stolen bikes" thread, occasionally one turns up and everyone is ecstatic
-- the "what to do if your bike is stolen" thread
-- the "locks that work" thread
-- and my favourite, the "how not to lock your bike" thread, including this great example:

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