Give Bike Thieves A Helluva Time

To the punk who stole my bicycle from in front of the Downtown Courthouse:

I won that bicycle in a contest and had only enjoyed it for two days before you figured you could use it for something better. Maybe you pawned it for crack. Maybe it wound up on a cargo freighter on the Miami River- the kind that seems to have a miraculous number of unwanted bicycles piled in a floating hillock awaiting transport to somewhere exotic and bicycle-friendly. Maybe you are enjoying your own comfortable jaunt around Miami on your new cruiser-road hybrid. Whatever your motivation, you have deprived me of something sentimental and enjoyable, and you’ve perpetuated a trend that historically made Miami recognizable by Kryptonite, a bicycle lock company, as one of the 10 worst cities for bicycle theft for several years.

Between an army of pawn shops and a consistent shipping industry, the outlet for bicycle thievery is easily provided.

I will admit, my stolen bicycle can be attributed to naivety. I was a novice cyclist when it was purloined. I ignorantly assumed that a cable lock would keep my bicycle comfy and secure in the Downtown wilderness. Fifteen minutes after parking my ride the cable was ripped from the locking mechanism and left hanging from the post, taunting me and my vanilla ignorance.

I made it easy, but there are multitudes of victims who took the best precautions they thought necessary for security and reliance.

Danielle Arca lives in Coconut Grove, a hub for spandex cyclists and weekend riders. She was the owner of a specialized mountain bike, used both for recreation and commuting until opportunistic twerps relieved her of her property.

“I kept the bike in the house for years,” she explains. “I decided to see if it would fit in my shed with a masterlock. Sunday night it was broken into.”

The shed, a Rubbermaid storage unit, held the lock in place using only a thin piece of plastic.

“It [the plastic] had been twisted until it snapped,” Arca said. “They even took the lock with them.”

The ingenuity of thievery efforts ranges from amateur cable-cutting to capers reminiscent of organized crime schemes. Sawed locks are heartbreaking, but entire racks with fleets of bikes stolen straight from housing complexes takes on an epic, almost admirable, level of effort.

While bicycle thieves have the advantage over our locked bikes due to limited scruples and the element of surprise, there are ways in which the cycling community can make the effort more of a pain in the ass for them. Here are some tips that may deter an ambitious bike thief:

o Make sure you are locked onto something stable. Chaining your bike to a Bob’s Barricade or chain-link fence is not reliable.

o Solid hardcore metal U-Locks are the most reliable forms of security.

o Double bag it. Carrying more than one U-Lock may seem excessive, but some thieves are satisfied to take parts of your bike to sell for scrap. Two U-Locks will help you keep your bike in one piece. Lock your front wheel to your frame and your frame to a stable object.

o Your bike has a serial number. Find it, write it down, and register it. You can go to http://www.bicycleregistry.com/ to file it among an online database for police records and victim’s accounts. You can contact the police and local pawn shops if your bike goes missing to see if there are any serial number matches.

o Avoid locking your bicycle outside for prolonged periods of time. Leaving your bike out overnight, and you are likely to be walking home tomorrow.

o Remember to take off lights and accessories to avoid having those jacked too.

If you have further suggestions for bicycle security or stories to tell, please share them in the comment box to help create an aware community. -- Adam Schachner

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