Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Part II – Stolen Bikes: Prevention

Following on from Part I – Bike Theft Choices, part II concentrates on actions to prevent bike theft.

Consider things from a bike thief's point of view; perhaps driving around in the inconspicuous white van, or concealing tools in a jacket pocket, a known hot spot is checked for today's pickings. The criminal will select one or more owners to upset, based on logical considerations such as:

  • Which bike is easiest to sell-on quickly?
  • Which locks are easiest and quickest to break?
  • Which bicycle has the fewest variety of locks defending it?
  • Which one is going to cause the least hassle, in terms of identifiers and uniqueness?

Locking securely

Use a small U-lock and secure it to the bike in a way which minimises the empty space in the centre of the U-lock. If you can fit your fist through the centre of the U-lock, then so can a thief position a hydraulic device which will snap open you lock almost instantly. Give the thief no room, and you bike is suddenly much more secure, compared to the next bike, which has an oversized U-lock swinging leisurely about the bike frame’s top tube.

Quick release wheel skewers and seat post fixings offer easy access for bicycle thieves wishing to asset strip the bike for parts. Even to replace one wheel + tire can cost you over £100. Make more work for the bike burglar by fitting traditional fixings that at least require a tool and more time to undo. Worth considering are also Pitlock skewers or Pinhead components.

It’s common sense, but bikes get nicked while left unlocked outside the local corner shop, even for just a minute. This is very appealing to an opportunist thief because not only do they get your property, it doubles as a quick getaway vehicle too.

Don't just lock it; lock it TO a fixed anchor such as railings, a Sheffield stand, lamppost cycle hoop, M stand, or security ground anchor.

Avoiding bike theft

If the lock passes through the frame and a wheel, but nothing else, it may deter opportunists but will not stop the bike being thrown in the back of a van for subsequent lock breaking, at the thief’s leisure.

If possible, point the keyhole of your lock towards the ground, this will deter bike thieves from pouring glue in to the keyhole to make it redundant, forcing the bike to be left at that location, upon which the criminals can choose when to return.

Do remove valuable accessories like lights, detachable speedometers and bike bags. Most products are designed with quick-release fittings for this purpose.

If you are using a motorbike-style chain, lock it so that any excess chain is wrapped up tightly, and not flailing around. If left loose, the perpetrator can position the chain in the position he wants it, for the easiest break. It's all about making their life difficult.

Now read Part III - Bicycle Security: Conclusion, which includes where to lock your bike.

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