Our Bay Area bike-fighting superheroine Platty Jo forwarded this photo from Matt Friedman of the San Francisco Police Department’s Anti-Bike Theft Unit of evidence from a recently arrested bike thief.
These were collected from 37 year old Shawn Sixta, who was arrested last Friday by University of California police. He was in possession of stolen property and bike theft tools. The three cell phones suggests bikes isn’t the only thing that Sean Sixta allegedly steals.
The car jack is used to break open u-locks. This is why I’ve long recommended the use of smaller u-locks instead of long shank locks — the shorter locks give thieves less room to work with as they try to angle the jack inside of the lock.
In spite of what KTVU suggests in this otherwise excellent report, this is not a new trick. Kryptonite introduced the Mini years ago specifically to combat this type of jacking attack. The “Bad Bones” and similar space filling bars introduced before also were introduced to keep u-locks safe against jacks. Even how the U portion of the lock inserts into the shackle is engineered as a defense against car jacks.
How do you protect your bike against car jack attacks?
Some people question the wisdom of disclosing bike theft techniques like this, but criminals already know the tricks of the trade. Full disclosure helps potential victims. When we know how thieves steal bikes, we make better informed decisions on how we protect our bikes. You understand the utility of short locks like the Kryptonite Mini and “bad bones” style loop fillers.
To protect against this type of attack, you make it difficult for a criminal to insert his jack inside of the u-lock. Use a smaller u-lock, like the Kryptonite Mini Evolution. For about ten bucks you can also buy metal bands that fit across a u-lock and fill the empty space where a thief might insert a jack. I’ve also seen u-locks with adjustable shanks.
Realize also that using a jack takes some time. Bolt cutters slice through most cable locks in seconds. Experienced thieves deftly retrieve the cutters, slice the cable, and collect their prize with a series of smooth, barely noticeable moves, but operating a jack takes a little more time and effort. If you have two different locking methods, that’s even more time and two sets of tools a thief must utilize, which defeats the practiced smoothness a lot of these guys prefer. Note also that this collection shown above doesn’t include a bolt cutter, so a simple cable lock would completely frustrate Mr Sixta if he attempted to swipe your bike.
Monster chains like the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain are heavy and expensive and take more specialized effort (namely more expensive bolt cutters, maybe in conjunction with freeze spray) to defeat. I have no experience with specialized niche products like the $200 TiGr flexible bow lock, though online reports elsewhere aren’t promising.
Thieves don’t even need to bother with car jacks when breaking truly cheap u-locks. That pry bar can bust any u-lock sold at mass retail stores for under $20. For some of these locks, you can even use the bike frame itself as a lever — just twist the whole bike around until the lock busts open.
The thing I haven’t figured out yet: Are those building access badges? What does Sixta use them for?