Guest Blog Post by Brian Ballard …
It was the end of the day on a Sunday. Beth and I were getting ready to close the shop. We had a row of Pedego electric bikes lined up in front of the store, all locked together with a long cable. As I walked to the end of the row to unlock the bikes, I discovered the cable was cut. The bike on the end was gone — it had been stolen! My heart sank. I was devastated. I took it personally and felt outraged. We’d hosted a bike prevention seminar in the past, but the technology we have today was not yet available. And so the bike was gone for good.
In 2015, more than 250,000 bikes were stolen. On average, only 3 percent are recovered by police. Of those that are recovered, a lot of unregistered bikes never make it back to their owners. The San Francisco police department has more than 400 recovered bikes in storage that they cannot return to owners for that reason. They simply can’t find the rightful owners.
Very few cities take bike theft seriously. Most cities are forced to put nearly all of their resources into more serious crimes. Portland, San Francisco and San Diego are among the few that have devoted resources to bicycle theft task forces. One law enforcement representative stated, “We make it easy for them. The DA doesn’t do tough prosecutions for these criminals. All the thieves we’ve busted got probation. You can’t take six people off a murder to investigate a bike theft.” This became the norm, as most bikes retail for less than $500. But when bikes valued at $1,000 or more are stolen, that’s a felony. So more law enforcement resources should be devoted to that.
Bike theft affects people from all walks of life. Some cyclists are low-income and do not own a car. They lose their only mode of transportation, which is devastating for them. And many of those who might afford a more-expensive bike cannot easily endure a loss either. The problem is also very sad. Many bikes are stolen by addicts to support a drug habit. They will steal a $2,000.00 bike and sell it for $50.00 to get their drugs. The more we can do to prevent bike theft, the more we help everyone. And there is some good news arriving. For starters, you can be sure to follow the basics.
Below are a few tips to help you protect your bike.
- Index Your Bike: Several websites help cyclists register and recover their bikes.
- Insure Your Bike: Explore multiple options for protecting your investment.
- Lock Your Bike: There are best practices for locking your bike. Learn from the pros.
- Recover Your Bike: New technologies are improving the odds of recovering your bike. Indexing, insuring and locking your bike are all part of the equation. If you do track down your bike, be sure to contact the police for help in making the recovery. No bicycle is worth a life. Not even the thief’s.
Greater protections are arriving now! We’re excited about the new GPS tracking and phone alert systems that are just now becoming available to the public at reasonable prices. They won’t replace locks, but knowing where your bike is at all times, knowing if someone is touching your bike — in the moment it happens — and being able to recover it quickly, are going to revolutionize the battle against bike theft.
Ultimately, what I learned is this: We should continue to ride and enjoy our Pedego bikes. The risk of theft must not stop us. There is risk in everything. As they say, a ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. So we are working with our community to develop more ways to keep our bikes safe and to recover any losses. We’re hosting a bike security seminar in our shop on the last Saturday of July. So join us at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 29, 2017, and learn the latest in bike theft prevention. The bike we save may well be yours!