San Francisco: Bike theft sting

CBS says the local police plan a sting operation to catch bike thieves. They’ll equip random bikes with tracking devices to try to track down organized groups of bike thieves. Via < a href="

Sad bicycle wheel

I know people who’ve had bikes stolen in spite of correctly used quality locks, but I also see many many many poorly locked bikes in San Francisco and in Santa Cruz. Locking a bike won’t make it theft proof, but you might discourage a thief well enough to keep him away from your bike. To lock your bike:

  • Start with a good, modern lock. I’m not too sure it matters cable lock vs U lock — thieves carry tools to defeat both. In higher risk areas (like San Francisco), I use one of each kind of lock. If you use a U lock, carry the smallest that will lock your bike. A longer shackle = more room to stick a break locking lever.
  • Ensure tires and frame are locked. Believe it or not, on dérailleur bikes with quick release wheels, the rear wheel can be popped out more quickly than the front wheel, and that rear wheel is the more expensive wheel by far. A common U lock trick is to lock the rear wheel to a post inside the bike rear triangle, like so:

    Bianchi Pista at San Jose Diridon Station

    The thief can’t remove the bike or wheel without chopping that rear wheel in half.

  • Ensure your bike is actually locked to something. Don’t do like British Prime Minister David Cameron did and cable your bike to a bollard — a simple post in the ground. Thieves lifted the bike up and over the top of the post. Thieves are known to unbolt racks to steal bikes, or know what racks and signposts can be merely lifted out of the ground.
  • Consider other removable bike parts. On most bikes, it’s a few twists of a wrench to take saddles, handlebars and pedals. A friend had an expensive light stolen off of his bike on the train a few weeks ago. Quick release parts like lights should be removed. Fasteners for wheels, saddles and handlebars that require special tools are available to prevent parts thefts and vandalism.


What’s your bike theft story? What are your bike locking tips?


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