BicycleSource Newsletter

If some kids are trying to boost your bike, tell them to scram

If you come out of school to find a band of street urchins swarming over your bike, busily trying to break your lock, the best approach is simply to tell them to beat it. Sermonizing or moralizing is a waste of time, and punitive actions short of shooting the bastards aren't effective. Unfortunately, your best option is noisy, messy, and illegal, so the next best thing is to tell them to scram and forget about it.

On the other hand, if some guy is hanging around a bike rack with a guitar case (containing bolt cutters, a car jack, or a big long pipe), it's a good idea to have the police deal with them. But taking a bunch of kids to the police will only teach them to be better crooks.

Direct Assault

Depending on your age, gender, the value of your bike, and what kind of town you live in, there is also the possibility of direct assault while riding. This is generally limited to parks and other relatively isolated areas, and to a lesser extent to slum streets.

This type of theft can range from a seemingly friendly and casual interest on the part of a stranger who would like to "try out your bike," to people leaping from the bushes, knocking you flat, and riding away on your bike. Unfortunately, there is little one can or should do in this case, unless you are experienced in physical combat. After all, you wouldn't be in the situation if the attackers did not have the advantage. Instead of risking a cracked skull or a knife in the gut over a bike, buy insurance.

The best approach is to stay away from unsafe areas, if you live in a city which has them. Stay out of unsafe or isolated areas in parks in general, and steer clear of parks altogether at night. If you have to travel through unsafe areas, stick to well-lit streets and maintain a fair clip. Stay away from lonely business or shipping districts at night.

Above all, be alert. Look for likely ambushes, and watch people who seem unduly interested in you. If in doubt about your safety, keep moving, and be prepared to downshift and sprint to outrace someone on foot.

If your bike is stolen

If your bike is stolen, you have a chance of getting it back if you register it beforehand and have the serial number. Call the police to report the crime immediately, and give them the information so that your bike can be returned if it is recovered.

As soon as you know it has definitely been stolen, start by making up a flyer with the details of the bike and a picture of it; include an offer of a "no questions asked" cash reward for information. Photocopy a couple of hundred. Deliver a few to each of the local bike shops that buy second-hand (most do). Put them up in every shop window in your area. The chances are that the thief is local, and has enemies that will inform on them in order to extract revenge. The flyers will also make the bike harder to sell.
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