Thursday, September 11, 2008

Part I - Bike Theft Choices

Knowledge and informed decisions are the two things that will reduce the risk of getting your bike stolen in London. Here is a three-part guide to beat the bike thieves.

Part I considers the strategical choices made which lower the risks of becoming an inconvenienced statistic.

Security Choices

Do not believe the hype. - Lock manufacturers proudly ascribe gleaming approved and tested ratings, from the likes of Sold Secure and Thatcham, but these are not accurate, as a number of YouTube examples will demonstrate.

The point here, is that no bike is 100% immune from being stolen, no matter how many reassuring “approved” stickers garnish the lock's packaging.

So rather than buying a highly desirable steed then fighting to keep it out of the criminals' stained hands, there are some aspects to consider when buying a bike for use in London:

  • Mountain bikes are a very popular product for dodgy criminal transactions.
  • Popular brand-named models are easy for criminals to sell-on.
  • Traditional mudguards are “functional and practical”. Thieves want “desirable and nickable”.
  • Drop handlebars also appear to be less attractive to thieves.
  • Folding bikes have the advantage that you can carry them with you, thus not leaving them exposed to the preying eyes of passing opportunists.

Buying a Bike Lock

In theory, the more you spend, the better the lock. As demonstrated above though, do dispose of the security promises (e.g. safe for five minutes sustained attack), along with the packaging. That said, a good expensive lock is more of a deterrent than a limp inexpensive lock. There are some types of locks to be avoided in any case:
  • Combination locks – Cons: As useful as a chocolate kettle. Pros: MAY stop the bike from being blown-over in the wind.
  • Cheap wire locks – Cons: Easily cut, and sometimes easily picked too. Pros: Slightly more useful than securing your bike with string.

Tracking-Device Deterrents

Immobilise is an excellent free service in which true owners register their property online, and if it is stolen, can sometimes be recovered by the Police. Specifically for cyclists, there is also: ImmobiTag.

“ImmobiTag is a radio frequency identification device designed specifically to be embedded into a bike's frame. Each tag contains a unique serial number that can be read by all UK Police forces, allowing the bike’s details to be matched with the registered owner through the Police national property database.”

However, the biggest asset from your £14 tag, will actually be the warning sticker placed on your frame, presenting your beloved bicycle as; “more hassle than the other bikes” from the thief’s perspective, and lowering the chance of it being selected for thieving in the first place.

Now discover real actions that can be taken when locking your bike, in: Part II - Stolen Bikes: Prevention.

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