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Bike Theft

Old 04-10-20, 02:51 AM
  #1  
Designmindz
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Bike Theft

Hi All,

As I will soon be buying a new bike for commute and recreation I have been doing lots of research around accessories, including bike locks for security.
I am now aware that you need a good D lock or two, and that cables are basically useless when it comes to theft. I have also researched the best way to lock your bike.

From there I have decided to watch footage of bike thefts on Youtube... I have become quite dismayed and now realise that if you leave your bike anywhere locked up and unattended for a period of time, it is going to get stolen. These guys are getting around with bolt cutters and portable grinders! And the worst thing is they are doing it in broad daylight and people just walk on by not wanting to get involved. Bystander effect eh!

I work in Corrections, so my bike should be pretty safe at work although I will still lock it. What I'm more concerned about is locking up for 30 mins in town running errands, or outside the grocery store picking up a few things.

So what do most people who own a decent bike do? Just not get off it when out?

Last edited by Designmindz; 04-10-20 at 02:51 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-10-20, 06:11 AM
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Moe Zhoost
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Sounds like you have done your research well. My strategy has been to never let my bike out of sight, which is not always possible unfortunately. When I do have to leave my locked bike, I try to select a place that has something secure to lock to. Not all bike racks are secure. I use a D-lock and a 10 mm cable to secure both frame and wheels. If possible, check the local theft statistics and avoid hot spots. Some areas in my town have had theft teams with both spotters and cutters. Also, try to lock up next to a bike that looks nicer than yours, especially if it is not locked as securely.

I wouldn't have thought that NZ would have a bike theft problem, but I just Googled and was much dismayed. Good luck to you.
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Old 04-10-20, 06:33 AM
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Rip off the branding stickers, spray valuable stuff with Plastikote flat black removable paint. Let it get scratched. Stick a couple of random decals on it. I now have trouble convincing accommodation managers that my "beaten up" touring bike is worth $4000 and can't be parked outside.
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Old 04-10-20, 06:53 AM
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I don't ride where I must leave my bike unattended. But if you do, here's something that might work for you. If your bike has quick release wheels, loosen the quick disconnect when you leave it. Chances are, a thief won't check it and will wreck trying to ride it away, possibly leaving the bike at that point. The bike might get scratched, but it might allow you to keep it. Of course, don't forget to tighten the quick release when you go back to ride it!! If they're stealing it and throwing it into a vehicle, this won't stop them, of course.
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Old 04-10-20, 07:05 AM
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I ride my bike to work, 6 miles each way. What I did was go to home depot and I bought the fattest heaviest chain they had and a padlock. Probably 15+ pounds for both. I leave both at work at the rack so I don't have to carry it each day.
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Old 04-10-20, 07:11 AM
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The Big Wheel
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Also, you could get a tiny lock (the one that you use on your suitcase while flying) and put it inside two of your chain links to prevent the chain from spinning. I saw a photo of it on here but can't find it. Maybe someone else can help out to show you what I mean.
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Old 04-10-20, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Designmindz View Post
So what do most people who own a decent bike do? Just not get off it when out?
There are three effective ways to reduce the risk of your bike being stolen while unattended:

1) Make your bike harder to steal than other nearby bikes. The risk is that a frustrated would-be thief may simply vandalize your bike when they can't steal it. Ask me how I know.

2) Leave your bike in a place where thieves won't have access to it. But not all workplaces offer a facility like that, nor do shopping and other venues one might wish to ride to.

3) Ride a bike that is less appealing to thieves. "Urban camouflage," I call it. That's the option I used for my commuter bike. The bike doesn't have to actually be a piece of crap; it just has to look like a piece of crap to a bike thief. It worked well for several decades; now I'm retired.
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Old 04-10-20, 07:57 AM
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All of the above. And since you work in Corrections, if you catch a bike thief at work, please lock him up!
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Old 04-10-20, 10:24 AM
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With a battery powered grinder with a thin blade ANY lock or cable can be cut thru in less than a minute. Simply put your bike have to be in your sight at all times. After having my mountain bike stolen out of the back of the garage, I even keep my bike and trike cabled up in the garage. It will keep kids from stealing them.
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Old 04-10-20, 11:54 AM
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Bike security is A.) peace of mind, and B.) risk assessment.

Yeah, if people want your bike there is nothing, short of standing next to it, which will stop them. But, you have to look at what thieves steal, and which thieves.

If you are in an area (a college or an urban area with a lot of bike use) thieves in vans will steal bikes no matter what. Don't leave your bike there.

Otherwise, you have crackhead/methheads, who might actually have tools, and opportunists/joyriders who probably don't.

You can beat the joyriders with any sufficiently impressive lock. it doesn't even have to be strong, just visible. The drug addicts? They want low risk because their rewards is low (they aren't stealing high-dollar CF bikes as a rule, but lower-value whatever bikes.) So for them, park in front of doors---people will walk into a store and call 911 who wouldn't intervene physically. Don't lock up in darker areas, or even in higher-traffic areas if patrons aren't entering and exiting businesses frequently---people just walking by are probably more likely to just keep walking, I figure, but if they come out the door and are face-to-face with a thief, might step back inside and use the cell phone.

And never leave a bike which looks worth stealing in a place where people who might steal it are likely to be.

I lock up outside the gym (or used to, before the CCP virus) using two locks. I figure anyone could get through one in not too long, but just seeing two makes the job look a lot harder. I bought about 4 feet of heavy hardened chain and a cheap lock, and had a 1/2-inch cable with a lock. Yes, someone could defeat both set-ups in 15-20 minutes even with normal tools .... but there is enough traffic and the door is right there, it is brightly lit, and while the bike is decent (Fuji Sportif) I have no worries. There are usually one or two other bikes there .... often beaters, seldom anything much, but I feel safe (peace of mind.)

Also, I never work out for more than about an hour, so ... whatever.

I also lock up in front of the local grocery store. Same deal---right in front of the door, everyone walks right by all the time./ I feel safe leaving it there while I shop.

I have had bikes stolen. one, from in front of a downtown library in a major city, where the bike rack was about 20 yards from the door, down the road, where anyone could spend and undisturbed half an hour working on a lock. One was from a fenced-in back yard, unlocked---no idea how anyone knew it was there as it was only for one night. The other was a super-cheap three-digit inline clock with cheesy chain which someone could pretty much open just by spinning the dials while pulling on it.

Otherwise, I have been locking my bikes in all sorts of places for years with no issue.

Peace of Mind: what you are really buying is enough of a sense of security that you can walk away from the bike without worrying. You KNOW that you could use three D-locks and a one-inch square chain with a 12-pound lock and still come back to find your bike missing .... but you would be pretty sure it would be there. So ... how much less could you use and feel okay? For me, using a mid-grade bike and picking my spots carefully, two locks is enough for me to not worry. For some folks .... never enough. Some folks use a quarter-inch cable with a cheap inline combo lock and feel fine----I did for a while, but i didn't feel fine enough so I upgraded .... but my bike never got stolen.

if your bike isn't a theft magnet, consider where and when you will lock it, and decide how little you can carry to feel safe. Odds of your bike getting stolen for anything except a multi-thousand dollar bike secured with anything more than a joke lock are really low for most normal utility destinations---stores and such. But you never know.

I think for most situations, a fat chain with a visibly big lock are all you need. People see that the bike Looks secure, and look for easier meat. Unless your bike is worth way too much to be left unattended, pretty much Looking secure is what it takes.

if you are Really worried, get a beater bike. Get a cheap bike, scrape the name off the decent components, and mess up the paint with a couple colors of rattle-can. Overspray on the tires is a big plus. So long as everything is sound mechanically, you can have a decent-riding bike that looks like trash. but .... some idiot might steal it anyway.
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Old 04-10-20, 11:56 AM
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Locks and security are only good for keeping the honest people honest.
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Old 04-10-20, 01:09 PM
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Ride with a friend and post a guard.
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Old 04-10-20, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Designmindz View Post
What I'm more concerned about is locking up for 30 mins in town running errands, or outside the grocery store picking up a few things.
Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Ride with a friend and post a guard.
That would have to be a nice friend to watch his bike for 30 minutes while he goes grocery shopping.
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Old 04-10-20, 01:24 PM
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Its more about reducing the probability of it getting stolen, and what probability factor you're comfortable with. The more unappealing you can make your bike,, and parking it near other easier-to-steal bicycles, the less likely it'll get stolen. I'm lucky in that I have a bike locker at work, so no need to worry about leaving it outside and exposed.

I have two cable locks and two locks (both locks keyed the same). That way if I feel I need the extra protection I can use both; you can't just cut one locking mechanism and steal the bike. Most of the time I just use one as I don't live in a high-crime neighborhood, and typically dont stop for very long at any one stopping point.

Surprising to me: A lot of touring bicyclists don't bring a locking mechanism. If you don't have a locking mechanism it really limits your ability to do some sightseeing or pop into a shop for a meal or a quick refreshment break. I do 'credit card' touring (between hotels/hostels) and use one whenever I stop, sometimes in a hotel or n=hostel, too.
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Old 04-10-20, 01:39 PM
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Some sound advice coming through here... I'm buying a decent bike (for me) and just could not scratch it up to deter thieves as it will be my pride and joy. It is likely to be the Marin Muirwoods in black which has a minimalist design, so may not be flashy enough to attract thieves. Most bikes sold here in NZ are mountain bikes, so I should imagine that is the main target.

My plan is to do the following:
  1. Get two high-quality D Locks and a cable. Probably combination locks so I don't have to worry about losing keys.
  2. Always park at the front door of the grocery store when shopping
  3. Pretty much never leave anywhere else unattended unless I have to - If I do 10mins max
  4. Get the bike insured so it can be replaced if stolen
Yes, bike theft is a real problem in NZ, and in my city in particular. Lots of meth addicts here who will steal anything not locked down to sell for drugs.

It makes me quite angry. I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like locking up my bike and sitting near it so I can knock the guy out when he starts fiddling with the locks!

Here's the Marin I plan to buy... its a looker, but not flashy so might not attract thieves
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Old 04-10-20, 01:45 PM
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For a bike that will be locked up and left around town. Buy a cheap used hard tail.

For a bike that you're going to ride for enjoyment, spend as much as you can & don't let it out of your site.
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Old 04-10-20, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Ride a bike that is less appealing to thieves. "Urban camouflage," I call it. That's the option I used for my commuter bike. The bike doesn't have to actually be a piece of crap; it just has to look like a piece of crap to a bike thief. It worked well for several decades; now I'm retired.
I had a customer whose son was entering college, and he wanted to buy him an expensive nice new shiny bike to ride around the campus. I told him I would be delighted to sell him the bike because in two weeks he would be back to buy another after it was stolen. I suggested that he go to the local bike co-op near the college and find a good used 1980-1990 vintage Schwinn or Raleigh - one of those old "indestructable" steel bikes - and a basic cable lock. Preferably one that was a bit scuffed up. Nobody would steal it, the bike would get the boy around the campus just fine and would last until he graduated. Cost me a sale for that one bike but kept the future family business for mom & dad and the younger kids.

I have always assumed that if a thief really wanted the bike he would get it. The best you can do is make it more difficult.

Last edited by MNebiker; 04-10-20 at 01:55 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 04-10-20, 02:00 PM
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And just to get the blood boiling... here's a link to footage of thefts in NZ. There are two clips and all thefts were on cable locks using bolt cutters.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/cri...p-bike-thieves
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Old 04-10-20, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I use a D-lock and a 10 mm cable to secure both frame and wheels.
I've seen quite a few people who remove the front wheel and secure it with the same D lock as the frame and rear wheel.
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Old 04-10-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Designmindz View Post
Some sound advice coming through here... I'm buying a decent bike (for me) and just could not scratch it up to deter thieves as it will be my pride and joy. It is likely to be the Marin Muirwoods in black which has a minimalist design, so may not be flashy enough to attract thieves. Most bikes sold here in NZ are mountain bikes, so I should imagine that is the main target.

My plan is to do the following:
  1. Get two high-quality D Locks and a cable. Probably combination locks so I don't have to worry about losing keys. Poor choice, choose a key. You need one to get into your house anyway, don't you?
  2. Always park at the front door of the grocery store when shopping Good
  3. Pretty much never leave anywhere else unattended unless I have to - If I do 10mins max Hypervigilance will wear you out quickly, read below
  4. Get the bike insured so it can be replaced if stolen Great
Yes, bike theft is a real problem in NZ, and in my city in particular. Lots of meth addicts here who will steal anything not locked down to sell for drugs.

It makes me quite angry. I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like locking up my bike and sitting near it so I can knock the guy out when he starts fiddling with the locks!
Combination locks provide anyone with the key, because with a little experience and knowledge, they're quickly defeated without tools. Keyed, sold secure or other tested locks use mechanisms difficult to defeat without tools.
Random stops along the way in places where thieves are less likely prowling in teams are manageable with a D lock and cable combo. Meth heads are not known for planning well, and might only have some cable cutters on them, or may have a steel rod to turn large cheap D locks into pretzels. Better locks and smaller locks, or more than one security method multiplies their effort and tools, and they'll usually keep walking. 10 minutes is fine, 20-60 minutes is probably fine in a high traffic location. Your risk is in locking up in the same place. Predictability allows a sober thief to plan and execute at the best opportunity. If you're locking up outside the facility and with public access, it's not a bad idea to lobby the property manager for a less publicly accessible locking location for employees. I would be nervous to lock my bike outside my building, but locking up in an employee-only access area gives me much more peace of mind.
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Old 04-10-20, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
Combination locks provide anyone with the key, because with a little experience and knowledge, they're quickly defeated without tools. Keyed, sold secure or other tested locks use mechanisms difficult to defeat without tools.
It is a good point. How quick are we talking? I've done some quick searching online and it seems 4 combo locks would take over an hour?

Does anyone use combination D Locks? Has anyone had one picked?
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Old 04-10-20, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Designmindz View Post
It is a good point. How quick are we talking? I've done some quick searching online and it seems 4 combo locks would take over an hour?

Does anyone use combination D Locks? Has anyone had one picked?
If you weren't aware of this website, take a look at it now.

It might not be super up to date regarding products, since it's a blog, but there's generally great advice there. When I said anyone can open a combo lock, I was talking about the fact that anyone that can watch a video will know that you can apply some tension to the shackle to decode a combo lock pretty quickly (5 minutes, while explaining it to you). Bottom line, brute force is the method of choice because it works 99% of the time; no thief is concerned with the state of the lock once they have your bike.
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Old 04-10-20, 03:48 PM
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Yes actually reading this website right now - its a great source of information.
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Old 04-10-20, 08:24 PM
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I will not leave my bike anywhere unattended. I have been out touring and stop for snack or something and take my bike in with me. If I am asked to leave my bike outside, I find another place to spend my money. Locks donít work , at all! In California anything valued at $950 or less is a misdemeanor and you would be hard pressed to get an officer to even take a report. They will write a ticket if they catch the thief in the act, but thatís it just a ticket. The bike thieves know this and bikes are being ridden around with rattle can paint jobs , handlebars and all , mostly the homeless with backpacks and or trailers in tow. I was trying to get around one on a bike lane when I noticed a pair of bolt cutters hanging out of his trailer. I donít use my bike for shopping or anything anymore , I just ride it and put it away.
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Old 04-11-20, 02:31 AM
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Another option is an urban styled folding bike, like the Bike Friday Pack It. I’m not sure of the model name. Some folding bikes fold quickly and real small so it can be placed under a shopping cart, a desk at work, etc...
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