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Ideas to Combat Bike Theft

If we truly want Pittsburgh to be bike friendly, we need to encourage more people to ride bikes for transportation and fun. Rampant bike theft works strongly against us. Our local strategies and tactics for combating bike theft seem to be somewhat ineffective. Here is a link to a NY Times article describing more effective approaches to the problem:
2014-07-15 10:46:16
I rarely post anymore, but have been keeping up with the bike theft threads. It seems to me that the best idea to combat bike theft would be to use a good lock. Every theft I ever hear of in Pittsburgh is someone who left their bike unattended for just a minute, locked it with a cable lock, left it out overnight, or some combination of those factors. We don't need high tech to prevent bike thefts around here, at least not yet. U-locks and common sense work well enough.
2014-07-15 11:41:46
I can't help but wonder if the recent number of thefts are organized... that would be a serious change for Pittsburgh, even if they are grabbing (relatively) easily stolen bikes. It certainly can get a lot worse, I haven't heard of any garage break-in's yet... not in Pgh, at least. I hope that the theft is still local, and that bikes aren't being trucked off to another market to sell on craigslist... there was a ring in Seattle while I lived there that would steal bikes there and transport them to Portland. Likewise, stolen bikes in Portland were being shipped to Seattle. Something to watch for.
2014-07-15 13:24:39
@BradQ - a bike was stolen from the rack on a PAT bus recently. Would you suggest that we should use U-Locks when we take our bikes on the bus???? I think everyone would agree that prevention is better than trying to locate stolen bikes after the fact. I may be alone in my opinion that bike thieves are a lower form of life than pond scum, but somehow I doubt it.
2014-07-15 19:05:47
I personally use 2 to 3 ulocks and a cable when locking my bike at work down town. Ill bring one with me and keep two where I keep my bike. Overkill or not id rather be over protected than under protected. The garage I park in is also patrolled by security as well.
2014-07-15 21:26:23
I don't think a U-lock would be necessary on a bus rack, but what I would do is keep a simple bungee cord handy to loop around the wheel on the driver's side. It could go on and off in a couple seconds, unnoticed, and would thwart a grab-and-go situation. Anyone who tries to grab a bike would find it very difficult to get off, and by the time they figured out it's a bungee, directly under the driver's eyes, they're more likely to abandon the idea.
2014-07-16 04:17:46
In addition, if there are going to be this many bike theft threads started independent of one another, doesn't it make sense to just start a Stolen Bike Watch thread on BikePGH? It could be made a sticky, which may encourage people to add to the thread. At this point, I can't keep an eye out for any of the stolen bikes, because there are too many! If there were a thread I could take a scroll through periodically, it may make posting about stolen bikes more effective, since everything would be in one place and people could peruse the bikes at large. At this point, I can only see an abandoned bike getting reunited with its owner through these boards. That, and finding threads to peruse about not-sad (well, not-stealing) topics is getting difficult.
2014-07-16 07:32:47
@LizziMac, or we could do it on the Wiki: Wiki's are great for this because the information sticks around, is easier to search, etc. I've been updating it as new reports come in, but anyone is welcome to do it -- just PM me your preferred username and email. BTW lot of folks are looking at the page, according to the Wiki view counter.
2014-07-16 07:40:46
Combining those, how about a sticky pointing to that?
2014-07-16 07:52:10
@stu -- fine with me -- maybe @erok can help?
2014-07-16 07:53:30
@Erok responds to texts/Twitter pretty quickly. I'll send him one now.
2014-07-16 07:54:25
Thanks, yinz! I think it's a good idea to have a sticky to the wiki (haha); maybe the wiki should contain language to post ads for stolen bikes there as well (or obviously, instructions to just update the wiki) so as to not inundate the boards with notices? In the past week, there were 40 threads active on the boards (not counting the 2 stickies): 14 are "bike stolen" threads (well, one of those was an "abandoned/stolen bike found" thread). So 35% of the new/active/updated threads this week were "bike stolen" notices. My lovely is being diluted by the rampant thievery! If we could ensure these posts get corralled on the board in a manageable, efficient, and accessible way, while maintaining the visibility of stolen bike notices, we will have really done something.
2014-07-16 08:15:55
so which thread are we proposing gets sticky'd?
2014-07-16 10:54:39
I think we need a new one. Its first post should be very short, yet do what is suggested in a couple of the posts above: * Allow posts to be added to it, so news of newly stolen bikes is always the latest post on a sticky-ified thread * Quick link to the post about how to get a picture on the board * Quick link to the stolen bikes wiki page. * In the second post, list some other helpful links, such as "Love your bike, lock it right" * Maybe some other tips and tricks, like my bungee-on-the-bus-rack idea a couple posts back What did I miss?
2014-07-16 11:17:47
yeah, kinda think the thread should be intentional. if someone makes it, i can sticky it
2014-07-16 11:27:05
I'm with bradq on this. How keep people's bikes from getting stolen? Make sure people lock them securely on the street. Seems simple enough to lock the frame with a ulock to a secure object, don't use quick releases, and secure the wheels / seat with another lock or auxillary cable. Also, don't leave them unlocked in your garage, back yard, porch, or car and bring them inside instead of leaving them outside overnight if possible. @screbner - I would use a ulock on a bus rack (either lock to the rack or lock my wheel to my frame so they can't ride away) and always keep an eye on the front of the bus. The biggest problem is that people don't even know that they are ignorant about how to securely lock a bike and some people who know, prefer to just willfully ignore the good advice. Show everyone you know that still uses a cable lock this video: or
2014-07-20 20:03:53
I agree the video was basic. All well known info, that I ignore all the time, not out of ignorance, but because, eh, I don't want to shlep multiple locks everywhere and spend extra time locking and unlocking every time. Does that mean I'm asking for it? Well, all low dollar value bikes so far and lockups (except in the employees only storage at work) are generally very short, so maybe, but maybe not. In any case, I don't think I would EVER U-lock my bike to the front of a bus or that that sort of thing is the answer. I don't think I'd even bungee it. People are waiting, and (so far at least) that was a freak occurrence. I think there's a ton of value, as a community, for this not to become a NYC situation where it's just a law of nature that such lockups WILL result in a missing bike in 10 minutes or less. It takes so little time to eyeball a bike and move on that I think there's no such thing as herd immunity here and a resultant responsibility to the community, it's a personal decision and I think the overall number of thefts comes down to other factors. So, for instance, reducing resale potential is very valuable. Kraynicks maybe helps us here. If nondescript used wheels only cost so much then it's not like there's a mint to be made by stealing those wheels here. I think mostly when bikes are stolen it's whole bikes, not wheels here, right? I also want to go out and say how much I appreciate jonawebb doing what I did not (my excuse being that I was on my 10th anniversary vacation), keeping up with the stolen bikes and logging them nicely for conscientious buyers plugged into our community here. And I think we have good eggs running all the bike shops here, which expands the pool of (unwittingly) conscientious (indirect) buyers. The national bike registry and project529, if the former were heavily used so most owners had their serial numbers recorded and craigslist/ebay required listing of serial numbers and, better still, enabled a search by them, then those two things in pair would make a good dent in the problem at a national level. This is especially important in the light of drewbacca's point about the seattle/portland bike theft ring. In a more limited but immediately actionable sense, maybe we should be talking to Bike Cleveland about what's going on here. Finally, I think there needs to be more likelihood of crooks getting caught and in serious trouble for this. So that includes the aforementioned, but also more exotic stuff like gps enabled anti-theft devices creeping out and becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous, and maybe we can interest our would be police chief with a sting operation?? Just thinking out loud here.
2014-07-20 22:48:16
Tnx, @byogman, glad to do it. Just hope we find some bikes.
2014-07-21 06:19:26
Tracking devices are becoming more popular in the San Francisco area: excerpt: The inventions will be welcomed in the Bay Area, where bicycle thefts in the nine-county region have doubled since 2009, according to the national stolen bike registry. With more cyclists on the roads these days, there are more bikes to steal: Berkeley has seen a 41 percent increase in reported thefts from 2013 to 2014, and San Francisco is grappling with a 70 percent increase from 2009 to 2013, according to police and city officials.
2015-01-13 06:35:32