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Theft prevention: Deface make and model?

Old 09-25-22, 10:22 AM
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smasha
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Theft prevention: Deface make and model?

To stop a thief, think like a thief…

If someone wants to steal an unlocked or poorly locked bike for convenience, they'll take what's convenient, no matter how good or bad it is. If someone wants a bike for the expensive parts/components, they may cut through the frame to take the bike.

Between these extremes are nice bikes, locked securely (with at least one better-than-average lock, used properly). They're not convenient to steal, so they're safe from purely opportunistic theft, but being a nice bike, someone might break a lock to steal it.

Since I personally know several people who have had bikes stolen over the last few months, this has me thinking of two things:
  1. If my new bike wasn't already mostly built up, I'd consider taking the frame to an auto-body shop, and have them strip off the old paint, and re-paint it to look like rusted pipes. Any bike thief would see that with a decent lock on it, and turn away in disgust and/or laughter. My bike would be safe. Maybe it's worth the hassle to take it all apart and do this?
  2. Since the bike is mostly built I'm thinking about just spray-painting over the make and model that's printed on the frame. That should drop the resale value of "ABC model" of "XYZ brand" to "unknown" and/or "unverifiable", which should lower the resale value enough that it's not worth the effort of busting a good lock. My bike should be safe, I think.
What does everyone else think? Any bike thieves or recovering bike thieves who can comment?

I'll also have a sticker on the bike advising that it's in a register that police have access to. I'm not sure how well that (in addition to being securely locked up) will discourage theft… I'd like to think this would discourage theft, and encourage a thief to find another target. Anecdotally, it seems that these kinds of stickers may actually reduce the chances of a bike being stolen.
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Old 09-25-22, 10:49 AM
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Hi,

I can relate to your situation since I had a nice bicycle stolen over a month ago even if it had the Garage 529 registration with the Montreal police. To replace it I bought an old 1980’s mtb, replaced the tires and brakes for my daily commute since the rest of the components were fine. The last thing I added is a milk crate on the rear rack.

If you want to make it look used. Just take a steel tool and chip away the paint. After, taken some ugly paint such as rust oxide primer and randomly apply with a brush.

https://www.instructables.com/How-to...scouragement-/

You can’t stop all the bike thieves but it helps.

This is mine. It looks worst in person.



Last edited by jfouellette; 09-25-22 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 09-25-22, 12:52 PM
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Or you could wrap tape over the logos. Maybe the kind that's used for baseball bats or hockey sticks.
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Old 09-25-22, 03:47 PM
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If your bike were nice looking you would not be considering defiling it. Here’s a suggestion: Ride it and use situational awareness.
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Old 09-25-22, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
If your bike were nice looking you would not be considering defiling it. Here’s a suggestion: Ride it and use situational awareness.
This. And if you do need to leave it / lock it someplace, make it harder to steal than any other bike around it.
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Old 09-25-22, 03:59 PM
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Get angry with a puke inducing color palette. You can clean it off later with acetone.
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Old 09-25-22, 04:00 PM
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Are you going to have nice components on this "faux beater", or are you going to artificially age ('beat the snot out of") the rest of the components along with the frame to complete the ruse?

Having worked in L.E. for 28 years, I can tell you that thieves are gonna thief no matter what...I'm convinced that if you left a dried dog turd on the sidewalk for any length of time, someone would steal it.

As mentioned above...ride it, enjoy it, and just make it harder to steal than the one next to it.
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Old 09-25-22, 05:06 PM
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I enjoy the remarks I get on the appearance of my bikes. Not that they are as beautiful as a lot of other bikes, but they are all well kept and I take pride in them. I can't imagine deliberately destroying the appearance to ward off thievery. Judging by what I see the typical meth user around here riding, they don't care what they are riding looks like.
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Old 09-25-22, 05:21 PM
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Mom had a coworker that took a nice bike and randomly spray painted it with multi colors to make it less desirable for thieves, while still a good commuter.

Apparently you can get rusty pipe decals. From another thread:

Originally Posted by smasha View Post
I'm actually considering re-painting a brand new commuter bike to look like rusty pipes, to discourage theft. Maybe something like semi-gloss grey, with splotchy matte black/orange/red lines and blobs.

Picture here is vinyl stickers made to look like rust.


Of course that might not work if it isn't actually steel. But, a decal may also be reversible should you wish to take it off. I don't know how you could ensure good coverage.
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Old 09-25-22, 06:18 PM
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Now that I think about it, there was another thread some time ago where someone suggested the possibility that someone would saw through a frame to steal a bike for its components. Seemed like an irrational fear back then too. Or was it insincere? I forget.
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Old 09-25-22, 06:25 PM
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slather old canned tuna all over the bicycle & stick on some reclaimed hair from your last trimming to adhere to the bars. If someone else still decides that they want it, then it just wasn't meant to be personally yours.
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Old 09-25-22, 06:43 PM
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I remember back in the 90's, I brokered a deal for a friend to buy a Cannondale new from a shop owner I frequented. She got her purple H300 and was all excited.

Next time I saw her, that same frame was completely covered in duct tape. That beautiful purple had taken on a Mad Max quality. Asked her about this, response: "Best way to not get stolen."

Fast forward to now. When I'm asked for recommendations on how to prevent theft, my answer is always the same. Lock the frame and rear wheel and take the front wheel with you. Awfully hard to ride away on a bike with one wheel unless you happen to be carrying a spare, which most thieves don't.

I realize that this doesn't work as well if you have really tempting parts or other bits. But for most thieves, it's enough to make them want to pass on your bike and go for one complete with both wheels.
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Old 09-25-22, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
I remember back in the 90's, I brokered a deal for a friend to buy a Cannondale new from a shop owner I frequented. She got her purple H300 and was all excited.

Next time I saw her, that same frame was completely covered in duct tape. That beautiful purple had taken on a Mad Max quality. Asked her about this, response: "Best way to not get stolen."

Fast forward to now. When I'm asked for recommendations on how to prevent theft, my answer is always the same. Lock the frame and rear wheel and take the front wheel with you. Awfully hard to ride away on a bike with one wheel unless you happen to be carrying a spare, which most thieves don't.

I realize that this doesn't work as well if you have really tempting parts or other bits. But for most thieves, it's enough to make them want to pass on your bike and go for one complete with both wheels.
What typically happens around here with bicycles locked up as such is that they get vandalized "just because". If the criminal cannot take your property for there gain, then they will make sure you cannot have it as you wanted either. lose/lose
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Old 09-25-22, 08:09 PM
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It seems like most of the comments are missing the point; different types of bike thieves steal different kinds of bikes.

A decent lock (used properly) will stop someone from stealing a bike just for convenience. A cheap/ugly bike will not get stolen by a thief looking for high-value bikes.

Where I live, high-value bikes are being targeted and stolen. A friend recently told me about his office being broken into in the middle of the night; the only thing stolen was a >$5000 e-bike that was locked to a stand, which was bolted to the floor. An angle-grinder and a possibly stolen van where used to facilitate the theft. A very highly targeted theft, which would not have happened to a cheap/ugly bike. On the other end of the spectrum, any bike with a cheap lock, an improperly used lock, or no lock, is highly susceptible to going missing.

Just in the last few weeks, two friends lost bikes that cost about $1000 each to replace. One was locked with a cable (I told him, before he lost his bike) and the other was locked overnight with a folding lock (I don't know the model/quality).

My bike is locked (with a good-quality U-lock through the rear wheel and rear triangle) whenever I'm not sitting on it, but for a bike that's worth >$1000, U-locks do get cut around here. I really don't know of any cheap/ugly bikes that have been stolen, around here, if they're locked up well.

With that in mind, and being comfortable riding a bike that may not be the most aesthetically attractive by contemporary standards, is there "protection" in taking a nice/desirable commuter bike and either (a) making it look like a pile of rusty pipes, or (b) spray-painting over the make/model that's printed on the frame?
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Old 09-25-22, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
being comfortable riding a bike that may not be the most aesthetically attractive by contemporary standards, is there "protection" in taking a nice/desirable commuter bike and either (a) making it look like a pile of rusty pipes, or (b) spray-painting over the make/model that's printed on the frame?
The whole point in such a bicycle is to enjoy it for those reasons criminals want to steal it. There are no realistic efficient solutions to preventing theft when leaving it unattended out in public. You want to keep your asset? Stay with it when out in public.
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Old 09-25-22, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
What typically happens around here with bicycles locked up as such is that they get vandalized "just because". If the criminal cannot take your property for there gain, then they will make sure you cannot have it as you wanted either. lose/lose
I'm not talking about abandoned bikes, which is what you're implying. If you leave a one-wheel bike locked up in public view forever, sure, it's going to get vandalized or otherwise defaced, as people will get tired of looking at it.
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Old 09-25-22, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
I'm not talking about abandoned bikes, which is what you're implying.
No, I did not imply that. I replied in response to the recommendation of someone removing the front wheel & lugging it around with them after locking the rest of the bicycle up to something else.

Originally Posted by bargainguy View Post
If you leave a one-wheel bike locked up in public view forever, sure, it's going to get vandalized or otherwise defaced, as some people will get tired of looking at it tend to suck at life.
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Old 09-25-22, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
The whole point in such a bicycle is to enjoy it for those reasons criminals want to steal it. There are no realistic efficient solutions to preventing theft when leaving it unattended out in public. You want to keep your asset? Stay with it when out in public.
If it was pink, day-glow-green, and/or light-purple, I wouldn't enjoy it.

A blue/grey, red, orange rust palette I could actually enjoy. It has kind of a punk, NYC, Mad-Max aesthetic, which I'm cool with.

For someone else, a pink, day-glow-green, and light-purple palette, maybe with stripes and/or polka-dots, would suit them.

Either way, I'd think the resale value, and thus the attraction to thieves, would be significantly reduced. An advantage of a rust-looking paint-job is that a lot of bike thieves wouldn't even wonder what's under the "rust". They'd just keep browsing.
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Old 09-25-22, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
If it was pink, day-glow-green, and/or light-purple, I wouldn't enjoy it.

A blue/grey, red, orange rust palette I could actually enjoy. It has kind of a punk, NYC, Mad-Max aesthetic, which I'm cool with.

For someone else, a pink, day-glow-green, and light-purple palette, maybe with stripes and/or polka-dots, would suit them.

Either way, I'd think the resale value, and thus the attraction to thieves, would be significantly reduced. An advantage of a rust-looking paint-job is that a lot of bike thieves wouldn't even wonder what's under the "rust". They'd just keep browsing.
I would not purposely buy with pride using my own hard earned money a bicycle set up to look in a distasteful manner in order to deter theft.
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Old 09-25-22, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
It seems like most of the comments are missing the point; different types of bike thieves steal different kinds of bikes.
I guess I'm one of them not getting the point. I'm sick if one of my bikes gets scratched. Scratches are going to happen I know, but I still hate to look at a scratch on my bike. I've maintained and kept good looking bikes for 50 years and never had one stolen. At this point I don't think not taking pride in them to protect them is a good substitute for sound security measures.
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Old 09-25-22, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M View Post
I guess I'm one of them not getting the point. I'm sick if one of my bikes gets scratched. Scratches are going to happen I know, but I still hate to look at a scratch on my bike. I've maintained and kept good looking bikes for 50 years and never had one stolen. At this point I don't think not taking pride in them to protect them is a good substitute for sound security measures.
1- Sure, I appreciate pretty bikes, but this is a commuter bike that's meant to be used, and that means it'll get some wear. This particular bike actually got a scratch on it while the shop was building it. I appreciated that the shop gave me a small discount for that, but it's not something that detracts from the utility or my enjoyment and appreciation of a machine that will get me from one place to another. This bike is my "station wagon", not my "Ferrari".

2- I'm not talking about a substitute for sound security measures, I'm talking about something to compliment sound security measures.
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Old 09-25-22, 09:14 PM
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It's hard to punt out an outline/details/provide sound feedback when the goal posts are moving.
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Old 09-25-22, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
It seems like most of the comments are missing the point.
Strange. I thought all the comments were exactly on point.
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Old 09-25-22, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Strange. I thought all the comments were exactly on point.
Most/all of the comments seem more concerned about projecting how the aesthetics would make me not enjoy the bike, which is not a concern of mine, rather than whether or not one of these paint jobs would actually prevent theft, which is what I'm actually concerned about.
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Old 09-25-22, 11:00 PM
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Just ride a Specialized.
I'm kidding, I have a Specialized.

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