lessons from a recovered bike theft

Although I have had no training in my new found expertise, my experiences and inexperience in a "big" city have prompted me to write this blog entry. On Dec 14, 2009, while attending a ABC advocate meeting, I locked my bike to a rack behind Danemmans Coffee. There were 6 other bikes in the rack. Rebecca is very good at keeping meetings to 1 hour, so after 70 minutes we all walked out to our bikes. Rebecca noticed that in a hurry to lock her bike, she only locked her helmet to the rack and missed her frame/bike. I was dazed and confused because I know where I locked mine up, and it wasn't there. It was jacked. Cable cut and taken.
RULE #1 - USE A U-LOCK
So I call police and report that my "vehicle" has been stolen. (RULE #2) This gets their attention better than my bicycle was stolen. Waiting for police to arrive, we noticed that there are some cameras in the area. I ask the proprietor to review the tapes, and sure enough, at 7:03p a short man with dark hooded sweatshirt and dark down vest walks by all bikes, looking at them, goes out of sight, (mine was just off camera), and is seen walking off with my bike. No facial ID is possible.
Police take information, give me a report number for insurance, and off to marta I go. BTW, walking in bike shoes suck........
Once home, I itemize all the things that were on the bike. All accesories that were stolen with the bike. (that alone came to over $700)
Since then, everytime I get near the Old 4th ward, I am looking in every alley, yard, parking lot, looking at every bike I see on the street, etc. I start checking craigslist a couple times a day. I check pawn shops, estate sales, markets, etc.
On Jan 22 I was waiting for a phone call, I pop onto the internet to waste time and automatically checked craigslist. And there it was.!!! Cannondale T700 touring bike- $160. There was a stock description from the manufacturer posted, WITH PICTURES OF MY BIKE. I call a guy named Nile. He said he was moving and could not take it with him. If I came tonight, he'd drop the price to $140. So I set up a time of 9:45 to meet him at the Civic Center MARTA. Then I called police to assist me. They were more than happy to help out. They got out of sight until Nile rolled up on the bike. It was most definetly mine! I am stalling, asking questions about the bike until "two" cruisers pull up. The look on this guys face was priceless. I provided the documentation that the bike was mine. Nile is still lying, although his story keeps changing. They cuff him and stuff him. I now have my bicycle back.
RULE #3 - Document everything about every bike you have. Serial numbers, descriptions, pictures, accesories, everything. Then store this information in a safe place. Give the information to your insurance company.
RULE #4 - Remove whatever you can from the bike when leaving it.
RULE # 5 - Register your bike with a national registry. If your local PD has bike licenses, get one. (ATL does not) (I had two tags on mine from Wis)
RULE #6 - Take the seat post out, drop a biz card or ID card into the seat tube, then put the post back in. This is a great fail safe should you find your bike on the street.
RULE #7 - Get police involvement if possible.
RULE #8 - Use multiple locks if possible. U-lock the frame and back wheel. Cable lock front wheel, panniers, etc. Or, remove front wheel and lock it with the rear wheel/frame. Anything you can do to deter the perp.
RULE #9 - Lock up in a visible spot. If you do not find a good spot to lock up, ask the business where the bike rack is? Or ask if you can bring it in. Tell them secure bicycle parking can mean more business for them.
RULE # 10 - BAD KARMA TO BIKE THIEVES

Comments

Secure your quick releases

Another inexpensive idea is to secure your bike's quick release levers with common hose clamps. The jerks won't bother stealing anything off your bike that takes time to undo. It's not perfect security, but it helps.

still can't believe it...

I still can't believe I left my bike unlocked - that NEVER happens - and that yours was stolen instead of mine! Maybe my poor little bike should be feeling insulted...I'm just so relieved you got it back. I felt somehow responsible, even though I provided a decoy :-)

lessons from a recovered bike theft

Congrats on getting the bike back. I know the feeling. it was rule#6 that helped me to get my bike back. I have a heavy duty master lock and cable (all-in-one) but I am looking at adding a u-lock to the arsenal. Not as a replacement, but an addition. A thief is less likely to want to deal with a bike with multiple locks on it.

I would be curious on how the court system handles this? Keep us informed, please.