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Theft prevention: Deface make and model?

Old 09-27-22, 06:48 AM
  #76  
indyfabz
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
First rule: A commuter that is left outside should have a total value less than or equal to $100.
Second rule: The value of the locks should exceed the value of the bike by 50%
That's not really hard to do.
A U-lock for the front wheel to the frame.
A U-lock for the rear wheel to the frame.
A U-lock for the frame through whatever immovable object you are locking to. (If one of the above 2 locks can go through the immovable object too, that's even better.)
Finally, a cable lock through the saddle rails securing the saddle/seatpost to the seat stays.
Rule 3: Observe the bike rack. Is secured with bolts? Thieves will disassemble the rack. Park away from the bolts. Does the rack have duct tape applied to it? If so, thieves have already cut the rack and are waiting for an opportunity to remove the tape holding the rack together & the bike secured there.
Guess I am a rebel because I break most of those rules. Replacement value of my commuter/tourer with Nitto Big front and rear racks is north of $2,000. I use one U lock for the front wheel and frame and one cable for the rear wheel.

I do, however, check whatever I am locking the bike to (e.g., bike rack, pole, etc.) for security. I also remove my saddle bag and lights if using. Once forgot to take the saddle bag and it disappeared. Only other thing that went missing, oddly enough, was the seat post QR on my old Trek 930. The post and saddle remained. That was in the late 90s.
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Old 09-27-22, 07:24 AM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
If I want to buy a piece of art, I'll buy a piece of art.

I'm not buying a new bike to appreciate its aesthetics, I'm buying a new bike to get from point-A to point-B. When I'm not riding it, it will be locked up, often outside, often not where anyone is watching it.

fwiw, it's being built with almost nothing higher-specced than Deore. It'll be an good bike to ride, regardless of what the paint looks like. I've never cried when any of my commuter bikes got scratched up; if I didn't want them getting scratched up, I'd lock them in the garage and never ride them.
I've explained *why* an idea is wrong, &/or *why* other ideas are better, for a productive disagreement, the goal posts moved on me yet again.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:40 AM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Guess I am a rebel because I break most of those rules. Replacement value of my commuter/tourer with Nitto Big front and rear racks is north of $2,000. I use one U lock for the front wheel and frame and one cable for the rear wheel.

I do, however, check whatever I am locking the bike to (e.g., bike rack, pole, etc.) for security. I also remove my saddle bag and lights if using. Once forgot to take the saddle bag and it disappeared. Only other thing that went missing, oddly enough, was the seat post QR on my old Trek 930. The post and saddle remained. That was in the late 90s.
I don't know that you are a rebel. Though you could be.

Your precautions are probably informed by your assessment of your general area & risk total.

Though, my "advice" with "rules" may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, my son & his Pugeot conformed 40 hours per week outside his job at a grocery store on a high-crime arterial in North Seattle & another 15 hours per week in a nearby busy college campus. Bikes of all variety, & locking strategy next to his got stolen or hit by vultures regularly (daily/weekly.) His low-cost, perfectly respectable, identifiable & functional bike just kept being ignored.

As to your quick-release: Often a person doesn't want to be a "thief." So, they only steal what they "need." Maybe you got lucky. He may have also needed a brake system or a fork or a handle bar/stem/cockpit. But maybe he forgot his 5mm Allen wrench that day. We'll never know.

A lot of my customers arrive from the homeless shelter (about a 15minute walk away) with similar stories to yours. The thief only took what they "needed."

The point of my post was to have what ever "needed" thing be of inconsequential cost or deemed not worth the risk or not considered an upgrade...A low class bike worthy of respect. Thief's like seat posts & indexed shifting too. Nutted axles are a bother... Even if they have no idea what a thing is, or what it works with, they just know it's better than what they have & you didn't care enough to keep it secured against a guy with a tool set. So in their mind, it's fair game & it's your fault for having a $2000 bike in the first place. To them, "good" people don't have that kind of money. But, a stolen looking rattle-can jalopy isn't a big loss.

There is a sweet spot. You & the OP are on opposite extremes.

Last edited by base2; 09-27-22 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:48 AM
  #79  
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If you’re going to leave your bike unattended (even if locked), then buy a Walmart bike so you’re not upset when it’s stolen.
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Old 09-27-22, 08:50 AM
  #80  
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If you have a nice bike that you must leave unattended, lock it near a nicer bike so the thief will steal the other bike.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:23 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
0 and 0.

In fact, the only place I have had a bike stolen is from inside my house while I was home and awake.
Last time I had a bike stolen, I was a little kid. My parents were reading me a bed-time story, we didn't think much of the noises we heard outside the window, but that was my bike being stolen off the front porch of a rural house.

A few years ago, I had a Kryptonite M-18L (motorcycle lock) and a 10mm hardened chain chopped off of a rack, where I frequently locked my commuter bike, and left the locks; I didn't lose a bike, just the locks were "removed". In the last few months, I've lost count of how many bikes have been stolen from that same rack. I've been parking around the corner for the last few years.

My concern is not driven by reaction to any specific theft, rather it's being driven by observations of what's happening where I live. A few years ago, a decent lock (used properly) was all that was needed to prevent bicycle theft. About 99% of bikes that went missing where either not locked (many stolen from cars, apartments, and residential garages), or they were locked with a cable-lock from the dollar-store. The other 1% of bikes that got stolen tended to be the 3-4 most expensive bikes in an office parking garage; security footage showed 2-3 guys with orange vests using an angle grinder to cut the locks, then toss the bikes into a stolen van and get moving.

The game has changed, and the strategies need to change. Aside from the types of thefts that have "always" happened here, decent bikes, locked up properly, parked outside, are being stolen.

Since locking up outside is something that I do with my commuter bike, it seems like a prudent addition to a good lock (used properly) might be making the bike not look desirable to steal.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:34 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
Unless, of course, the thief also steals a can of spray paint from the local box store and repaints over your paint. I mean, why not?
1- If they want to do that, then it wouldn't make an ugly-bike any more of a target. Any bike that's not locked as well as mine is an easier/ more attractive target. I'm not trying to rely on ugly; I'm thinking of using ugly in addition to secure locking and being smart about where/when I leave the bike. In general, anyone motivated to either have a nondescript bike for themself or sell a nondescript bike is likely the kind of thief who's looking for bikes that are either not locked, or locked very poorly; a thief looking to ride or sell a "nice looking" bike is likely to be a thief who can and will cut through a decent lock to get what they want.

2- Ultimately, the serial number stamped into the frame is the best evidence of ownership.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:37 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
I've explained *why* an idea is wrong, &/or *why* other ideas are better, for a productive disagreement, the goal posts moved on me yet again.
Don't conflate you not liking an idea with that idea being wrong.

It may not be the best/right answer for you, but you have not explained why my idea wouldn't be right for me.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:45 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
Ultimately, the serial number stamped into the frame is the best evidence of ownership.
That is true, IF:
You have recorded your serial number
You have registered your serial number with something like 529 Garage
Your bike is actually recovered
The local law enforcement knows enough (or will actually care enough) to check the registration to determine who the real owner is.

That's a lot of ifs.
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Old 09-27-22, 09:53 AM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
There is a sweet spot. You & the OP are on opposite extremes.
Not entirely. Seems like we both ride nice/expensive commuter bikes, and both take reasonable precautions to prevent theft.

My "minimum" security tends to be a U-lock through the rear-wheel and rear-triangle and a solid rack. I often cover my expensive saddle with plastic shopping bags. Sometimes I use a "seat saver" cable, secured to the U-lock. Sometimes I run a cable through the front-wheel and front-triangle, ideally secured to a rack at one end, and the U-lock at the other end. Sometimes I use the U-lock, as described, and add a chain around the front-wheel, front-triangle, and a secure rack.

I don't plan on being lazy with any of that basic security stuff... I'm just thinking that combined with secure locking, no one would even want an ugly, distinct, or nondescript bike.
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Old 09-27-22, 10:04 AM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
That is true, IF:
You have recorded your serial number
You have registered your serial number with something like 529 Garage
Your bike is actually recovered
The local law enforcement knows enough (or will actually care enough) to check the registration to determine who the real owner is.

That's a lot of ifs.
The first two items in your list are within my control, and done.

The 3rd item would not be within my control. Anecdotally, and consistent with research I've seen, the more effort that's required to cut a lock, the less likely the bike will be recovered. Using good locks, as I do, should make a bike less likely to be stolen, but correlates to a stolen bike being less likely to be recovered.

The 4th item seems decent, and seems to be gaining traction around here via 529 (which apparently accesses similar registration services). I know a few people who have had phone calls from police, to pick up their recovered bikes. They all filed police reports with enough information to identify the bikes.
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Old 09-27-22, 10:06 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
If I'm understanding you correctly, are you saying that a beater franken-bike, or a bike that looks like a beater franken-bike, is less likely to be recovered than a bike that can be identified by make/model? That's something I hadn't considered. If that's the case, then a "rust" paint-job may not be what I want.
Originally Posted by smasha View Post
This has me thinking... Maybe just a splotch of orange or blue spray-paint to make the bike easier to identify?

Maybe even make it not ugly, but just conspicuous?
You're getting the right idea. If you give all the signals that a bike is already stolen. It has lower than zero value. It is open season on whatever the thief wants. The thief knows the risk of actually stealing the bike was already taken & it is now safely unreportable, black market, off-grid & no one is going to waste time or resources on worse than junk. Busy cops, honest people, concerned citizens will actively avoid seeing it. Else, confront their own feelings on societies ills. Besides, it's homeless owner will understand that nothing in life is permanent & will get over it.

This is too far in the devaluing direction.

A splotch or 2 of paint, tastefully done to identify it, however that's a different story. That would be an easily identifiable defining feature.

I think the goal should be something respectable, utilitarian, working-class, something owned, but nothing compelling & enough locks to deter opportunistic thoughts.

Last edited by base2; 09-27-22 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 09-27-22, 10:26 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
You're getting the right idea. If you give all the signals that a bike is already stolen. It has lower than zero value. It is open season on whatever the thief wants. The thief knows the risk of actually stealing the bike was already taken & it is now safely unreportable, black market, off-grid & no one is going to waste time or resources on worse than junk. Busy cops, honest people, concerned citizens will actively avoid seeing it. Else, confront their own feelings on societies ills. Besides, it's homeless owner will understand that nothing in life is permanent & will get over it.

This is too far in the devaluing direction.

A splotch or 2 of paint, tastefully done to identify it, however that's a different story. That would be an easily identifiable defining feature.

I think the goal should be something respectable, utilitarian, working-class, but nothing compelling & enough locks to deter opportunistic thoughts.
Finally, someone sharing ideas and explaining why, rather than just complaining that they're offended by the idea of "defiling" the aesthetics of a new commuter bike.

OK... So maybe just a little spray-paint to compliment the factory colour palette, maybe even with tape so it's not too "splotchy", and maybe some stickers might accomplish what I want better than my original ideas...

Thieves that don't break good locks will be deterred by good locks, and thieves that do break good locks should be deterred by enough paint/stickers to make the bike easy to identify. That leaves thieves who will cut good locks to get the components, which shouldn't be too much of a concern with a mostly Deore level bike.

This is making sense to me. Now cue the people will still cry about "defiling" a new bike.
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Old 09-27-22, 11:00 AM
  #89  
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Around here, the #1 target for thieves is 50 pound full-sus downhill rigs that are ridden around by the new 'owners' in day-to-day errands, most of which involves drug transactions. Or stealing more stuff to pay for drugs. Notwithstanding that there is no mountain biking anywhere near, only urban paved riding - go figure. I guess the rad and bad boy bike look trumps speed and efficiency. Second choice are undersized BMX bikes with no seatpost or brakes, which is probably a better choice in that it allows you to weave quickly around pedestrians on crowded sidewalks as you look for or sell drugs.


High-end bike stuff does get stolen and then broken down for parts. So the sketchy second-hand bike market around here features an apparent mish-mash of bizarrely incompatible stuff hobbled together. So forks mixed up, as well as groupsets, cranks, etc. We've had innumerable seemingly honest folks come into our Co-op stating that they: "just bought this on Craigslist", and hours of parts swapping and head-scratching follows. Common stuff:
  • Fork is not original. Headset is completely incompatible to the frame. In order to make the headset work, the bearings were removed and replaced with scrunched-up aluminum foil.
  • Carbon road fork seems a bit 'loose'. After removing a big obnoxious decal on the fork, we find that one of the fork legs is broken clean through.
  • Derailleur hanger missing or broken. Original Ultegra derailleur replaced with a claw-mounted Tourney (or worse) unit.
  • Deraillers and shifters completely mis-matched. 7-speed Shimano (freewheel) rear wheel matched with 10-speed Campagnolo shifters. Shifters are broken.
  • Rim-brake only wheels shoved into a disc brake frame. No braking. Can we fix this?
  • Every bike features a chain that is the wrong number of 'speeds' for the cassette. Every chain is worn out, or mangled, and either too long or too short.
  • Etc. etc.
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Old 09-27-22, 11:05 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
The point of my post was to have what ever "needed" thing be of inconsequential cost or deemed not worth the risk or not considered an upgrade...A low class bike worthy of respect. Thief's like seat posts & indexed shifting too. Nutted axles are a bother... Even if they have no idea what a thing is, or what it works with, they just know it's better than what they have & you didn't care enough to keep it secured against a guy with a tool set. So in their mind, it's fair game & it's your fault for having a $2000 bike in the first place. To them, "good" people don't have that kind of money. But, a stolen looking rattle-can jalopy isn't a big loss.
I think this speaks volumes. I would not leave a bike I did not want to lose unattended, even locked. Years ago, I had no problem removing the front wheel and using a U-lock to keep my bike safe; even if a Bic pen could have unlocked it...lol!

I don't fault the OP from going to lengths so that he feels he has done whatever possible to deter his bike getting stolen. I might not do the same, but if the bike were a short distance commuter, I would build it for that distance. Mis-matched wheels, freewheel, friction shifting, ball bearings in the hex bolts, and a plan to get home if it were taken. I would not build a bike beyond its basic function and leave it unattended.

John
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Old 09-27-22, 11:18 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
Since locking up outside is something that I do with my commuter bike, it seems like a prudent addition to a good lock (used properly) might be making the bike not look desirable to steal.
I don't you understand how the mind of your average bike thief works. You also portray yourself as someone who fears there is a thief lurking behind every lamp post.

That aside, imma keep doin' what I have been doing for decades, which is employ situational awareness and appropriate locking techniques, because they have worked every time without any need to defile my rides.

Buh-bye

P.S. Let's see this bike you think looks so desirable to steal that the bike thief army is licking its collective chops.
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Old 09-27-22, 11:19 AM
  #92  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
complaining that they're offended by the idea of "defiling" the aesthetics of a new commuter bike.
Who did that? I am not "offended" by the idea. I simply think it's dumb because it offers nothing. It is certainly not worth 4 pages of thread.

Indeed, if you think the idea has merit why even start a thread about it? (To start controversy? Oh. Wait. Now I remember. You were asking what others think of the idea--until you weren't asking that. ) Just do it. Make it as fugly looking as you want. Just make sure you post proof-of-life photos after you do. A before and after comparison so we know you are for realz. That might redeem this thread.

Last edited by indyfabz; 09-27-22 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 09-27-22, 12:07 PM
  #93  
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist View Post
This. And if you do need to leave it / lock it someplace, make it harder to steal than any other bike around it.
Your advice in action...Last week, my daughter moved into her college dorm along with a bunch of her classmates who brought bikes. The bikes were put in a locked cage at the dorm, and each bike had its own lock(s). That first night, the cage was broken into, and most of the bikes were stolen by sawing though the steel frame of the bike racks. One of the few bikes to survive was that of a non-freshman who used 8 u-locks on his bike.

In preparation for her move to college, I had spent a couple of weeks putting together a late-90s steel Bianchi "townie" bike for my daughter. At the last minute, she decided to leave it at home until she got a feel for how safe it would be. This tuned out to be a very good decision.
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Old 09-27-22, 12:15 PM
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lock it up and take the saddle with you
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Old 09-27-22, 12:17 PM
  #95  
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I've de-badged (taken the labels off) my B and W hitch on my truck as well as my Fulton jack stand on my boat trailer
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Old 09-27-22, 12:42 PM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by bikehoco View Post
If you’re going to leave your bike unattended (even if locked), then buy a Walmart bike so you’re not upset when it’s stolen.
Or at the very least, get some Next, Roadmaster, or Mongoose stickers or whatever cheap brand they're selling now and put them over the brand logo stickers on your bike.
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Old 09-27-22, 12:50 PM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
The faux "rust" decals gets me thinking. I wonder if there is such a thing as a "patina" vinyl wrap? I could see that being a big hit in the classic-car community.... What better way to disguise minor paint issues on your old unrestored '55 Chevy than to cover it with a patina wrap and make it look like it's just been drug out of a barn after a long and hard life? The leftover scraps of wrap could go on your bike.
its been done


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Old 09-27-22, 01:06 PM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by smasha View Post
No one has actually disagreed with me, in any productive way. A lot of other opinions have been presented, but almost no one has explained why they think I'm wrong; almost no one has explained why their ideas are actually better.
That's not productive disagreement, it's just a bunch of people flinging their own dogma like boogers. It's not yet degraded to ad hominems, but it's not much better than that.
The disagreement hasnt been productive because you dislike it. It appears you just want posters to agree with you and that will qualify it as productive.

As for requiring others to explain why they think you are wrong, that has been done over and over again. base2 went into great detail about how a crappy looking bike isnt safe and why- base2 works at a bike collective where inexpensive bikes are maintained and customers are often struggling, so he has some experience here.
Paint your bike if you want. It will certainly lower the value and if you think a lower value will keep it from being stolen, then have at it.
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Old 09-27-22, 01:26 PM
  #99  
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
That is true, IF:
You have recorded your serial number
You have registered your serial number with something like 529 Garage
Your bike is actually recovered
The local law enforcement knows enough (or will actually care enough) to check the registration to determine who the real owner is.

That's a lot of ifs.
Actually, if you've recorded your serial number and filed a stolen bicycle report with the police, AND given that police officer the serial number, they can enter the bike into NCIC which is the National Crime Information Center computers. If any other agency across the country recovers your bike and runs the serial number, it will come back stolen and they'll be able to contact the agency who filed the stolen report to let them know it's been recovered. Then they contact you and let you know that your stolen bike has been found.

That is, if the bike is found, which hopefully it will still be in one piece and not stripped of all usable components and the frame dumped in a ditch somewhere.

But it's still a good idea to register your bike in an online registry as well. I use bikeindex.org.
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Old 09-27-22, 01:29 PM
  #100  
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...back in D.C., many years ago, we just used a cheap paint brush, and paint the frame with flat latex house paint. It's plenty fugly, attracts dirt and grime, peels in places, and is easy to remove if your theft risk situation changes. For a really fugly look, add some random wrappings of duct tape.
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