Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bike theft - I've got a plan

Bike thieves suck. However, unless we can institute sharia law, they're probably not going away. I've been thinking about the issue of bike theft since someone I know just had her brand new hybrid bike (and child seat) stolen right out of her employer's building. Tell me, what kind of loser steals a woman's bike with a child seat? Somebody who didn't get enough love and attention from mom, that's who.

Craigslist is great. However, it also serves as a giant flea market which makes the movement of stolen bicycles easier. It also allows the recovery of stolen goods as the listings are searchable and viewable by anyone. Just take a look at this example of a stolen Guru Tri Bike that was recovered by browsing Craigslist.

Here's my plan: make Craigslist the ultimate stolen bike recovery tool, or at least take it out of the thieves toolbox by requiring posters to include a picture and/or the serial number of the bike. Here's the message I just sent to Craigslist through their feedback form:

Craigslist is a great tool for selling bicycles and bike parts, but can also be used by thieves to sell stolen equipment. Why not make this impossible (or at least harder to do)? Can you make it a requirement that each bicycle ad must contain a picture of the product (making it easier to identify stolen goods) or require that each bike ad post the serial number of the bike (discouraging thieves)? This last option would dovetail nicely with the Stolen Bicycle Registry website here:

Think about it, maybe send some feedback of your own. Write down the serial numbers of your stuff, register your bike, take photos and save them, engrave your initials on your bottom bracket. Thieves are stupid, exploit them for it. Link to this post, pass it on, be part of the solution!

Photo taken by me at the Truckee Tour de Fat


Mark said...

Those requirements would work for honest people. Your typical dishonest person could easily thwart this by punching in a dummy serial number, or copy someone else, and change one digit. Pictures could be the same thing, not to mention the claim, "But I don't have digital camera"

What might work better, however, is a disclaimer or warning that if the item being sold is stolen, CList will work with the local law enforcement authorities to track you down and throw your sorry ass in jail!.

If you really want to control this portal, CList should ask for a Credit Card Number. They won't charge you but at least they have a way of tracking you. However, all this would be counter to the CList culture and thus destroy the [im]moral fabric that makes up CList.

-p said...

Yes, I suppose that both methods could be easily thwarted (by using a picture from somewhere else, or a fake serial number). There's got to be a way to track bicycle transactions without getting too much government involved so that they can't be shuffled around so easily.

Best anti theft advice I've heard in a while - use a padlock to lock your chain to your chainring. The thief wouldn't get very far like that.