Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Bike Theft - one small step.

I saw this article in the Independent a couple of days ago, and I thought it worthwhile enough to inform my glorious readers about.

To summarise:

It has always annoyed me that it is so easy to sell stolen bikes quickly and for a decent amount of money. Being a member of cycling forums I hear about expensive bikes being stolen every week.

That’s why I’ve started this petition calling on eBay and its subsidiaries to make frame numbers mandatory on listings on its site.
Frame numbers are found on every bike and can be used by owners or police to identify stolen bikes. Forcing sellers to list frame numbers on online ads will make it harder for thieves to shift our stolen goods.
eBay goes to considerable effort to protect the intellectual property of music and film companies. It removes auctions for designer items it suspects are illegal copies and requires motorists to enter a registration number when listing a car for sale.

Now we are asking that eBay and its subsidiaries do the same for bikes.
If eBay do this and we all take the responsibility to note our frame numbers and lock our bikes up properly we can start constricting the marketplace for stolen bicycles.
This all seems sensible and simple! 

Now it may annoy those people who want to buy a cheap stolen bike - but it would be a very simple matter for the police to run a list of serial numbers of stolen bikes against those for sale. The main way to restrict the theft of items is to reduce the places they can be onward sold - this coupled with the police taking the time to visit local markets and check a few serial numbers and there would make a serious dent in the ability of thieves to sell stolen bikes (this is ignoring Gumtree but that place is beyond hope). It would also help those unfortunate people who buy stolen bikes unwittingly.

One of the things that has annoyed me about owning a bike is the total disregard there seems to be about theft of bikes - I have written about it on this blog a few times. There seems to be an attitude amongst cyclists that as long as it isn't there bike being stolen then let's just ignore it. It is almost like people in a WW1 trench being glad that they guy next to them got shot and not they themselves. 

Whilst I am at it (and it appears to be a growing trend, I am going to set myself up against people who are pro cycle lanes again) I was very annoyed when I read an article recently (and no I don't have the link any-more) where they were so busy arguing that the only reason that cycling was not growing faster, was due to lack of cycling lanes, that they dismissed out of hand theft as one of the reasons. Yes, it is not the main reason, but it is a contributing factor a certainly significant enough not to be dismissed in such an out of hand way.

There is a correlation here that has not be taken into account - the bikes that are the main targets for thieves are the light ones -  owners of such bikes therefore need to carry around a gold secure lock, a lock that more often than not weighs the same as the bike itself. It may be fine for the beardy cargo bike owners, to carry around a heavy lock for their bike, a bike which people don't want to nick anyway, but for those of us who are sad Mamils, with our ultra-light carbon penile replacement bikes it is a real issue. A quick 4 mile jolly to the shops, becomes an exercise in logistics and padlocking that soon means the car comes out of the drive instead - so yes all that hassle means we don't use our bikes for little trips, even though we would love to.

Apart from everything else I am old fashioned enough to not accept the idea that bikes (or any item for that matter) should be allowed to be stolen. For me (as with many others) our bike is more than just a group of mechanics - it is something we genuinely care about and an object we have invested real time and attention to looking after and it means more to us than the sum of its parts.

So go have a read of the article and maybe sign the petition - it costs nothing - and who knows you may be the next person to be shot in the trench, so help end the war now.

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