Santa Cruz: One of a kind stolen bike

Local businessman Rafael Ortiz is on the board of directors of the USA Cycling Board of Directors. He owns a one-of-a-kind USA Cycling team Olympic bike. It was, sadly, stolen, and he asks the public to keep an eye out for it.

Stolen USA Olympic Team road racing bicycle Santa Cruz

Ortiz offers a modest reward. More details at the Santa Cruz Sentinel: Reward offered for Olympic racing bike stolen from Santa Cruz.


Speaking of theft, I recently ordered a Trackr Stickr that I plan to affix to my bike. This is a $25 small electronic gizmo that uses “crowd GPS” to help locate lost items. The Trackr Stickr is about the size of a quarter that you affix to things you don’t want to lose. Because of the technology it uses, you need a new-ish phone (iPhone 4s or newer, or Android 4.4 or newer on a phone with Bluetooth Low Energy).

Crowd GPS?

Trackr uses Bluetooth Low Energy to tether to your mobile device. If it goes out of range, it pings other Bluetooth LE devices running Trackr and other Open Garden apps, to silently and anonymously forward the location of your Stickr’d item to Trackr.

It’s meant more for things like keeping track of small things like your car keys and pets, but I’m curious about about other possibilities like stolen bike recovery. I’ll experiment by handing my bike to friends in various locations and see how long it takes for me to find my bike. I’ll report my findings back here.

5 Comments

  1. Don’t know everything about Trackr Stickr, but be aware that the range of these RFID/BLE things decrease somewhat when mounted to metal, unless they really tweak it right to work with a metallic backplane.

    For it to work, it requires everyone to turn on the Blue Tooth 24/7 on their phone, something of a serious battery drain for the phone, something that I don’t think many people do….

  2. You might want to check the app reviews of the Trackr Stickr. I’m not completely convinced the stickers nor the app are really ready for primetime. I suspect these things are using the same reference design- https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/Bluetooth-Smart-Bluetooth-low-energy/nRF51822-Bluetooth-Smart-Beacon-Kit

    Hopefully it has been updated in the past year because the early iterations have poor reviews. Do an Amazon search for Trackr or Sticknfind. There are others, I’m sure (Tile and maybe someting from Audiovox).

    Disclosure: I’ve got the SticknFind but I don’t use them and the one year batteries have died.

  3. Maybe you could buy a Tile too and tape it under your seat and compare the two. I’m curious if these things are worth a cr@p in the wild.

  4. I saw the mixed reviews on Trackr before purchasing so my expectations are low, but I’m still interested in the possibilities. The device is indeed exceedingly finicky so we’ll see how useful it actually is.

    Tile is a non-starter for me because it’s IOS only.

  5. There are many bluetooth trackers coming out (FOBO, LUPO). The usefulness would be the ones with an accelerator sensor vibration monitor that lets you know right when your bike is being messed with, not so much the crowd GPS which I doubt you would ever get a hit. The problem with most of the motion sensor features are that the ranges are too short. As soon as you step inside a building the signal is likely to cut out.

    However there is one called the BlueTracker that has an improved antenna to extend the range to 2500 feet. This would be more likely to reach the back of the grocery store if you are parked in front. It is still in development though.
    http://blutracker.com/

    Even better is the “Iota”. It uses a radio with a 4 mile range, and a base station. But the really innovative thing is that the base stations are shared between users. This means almost full GPS coverage in any populated area without a subscription. It also has the motion sensing alert. The width is 22mm so Its small enough that it might fit inside a carbon stem, inside a cushiony seat, disguised as a reflector, or in the seat tube of a carbon bike. If it actually works, it would turn anyone’s bike into a subscription free bait bike, and might finally turn the tide on bike theft if we can get enough bait bikes out there.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1226890823/iota-never-lose-sight-of-whats-important

    And check out the coverage map already. This is only the locations that have been reported.
    http://www.iotera.com/coverage/

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