The Chainlink

How crappy does a bike need to look to prevent it from being stolen?

How bad does a bike need to look for thieves to ignore and move on to the next unfortunate victim.
I had my bike stolen yesterday.
I tried to make it as undesirable as possible wrapping tape around the frame, dirty with grime from all the salt, old bike saddle and still apparently is good enough for thieves to steal it.
Well the only brand new thing was a Chainlink sticker I got this past Friday at Critical Mass.
That must've been it!
Dang thieves just wanted my shinny new sticker.

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I know someone who bought a $10 bike and locked it up by the metra. It was falling apart. Naturally it was stolen.
What kind of lock and what was it locked to? That might have been a larger contributor than the "implied value" of the bike. Or maybe it's like cars - a cheap american POS might be more likely to be stolen because of the parts resale market, but a new exotic can't be resold (obviously stolen goods).
There is no golden rule. If the thief wants your bike, they are going to take it no matter what precautions you take. I had my Cross Country bike (and my wife's bike) stolen out of my apartment basement...from inside my locked storage unit. They cut the pad lock on the door...took the bikes and propped up the pad lock so it didnt look like it had been tampered with. I had 1,000's of dollars worth of tools laying on the floor next to the bikes, and they didn't mess with those.
A friend had a really old crappy trek 820 with random paint on the frame and components on their last legs stolen. This was despite the bike being locked up next to fairly nice bikes and the thieves having to jump a fence to get it. I don't think any bike is safe.
There is no bike that looks too crappy to steal!
I agree with Jan. W. It makes no sense to make your bike look like crap. If left unattended long enough, any bike will get stolen. REGARDLESS of it's lock.
GabeW said:
What kind of lock and what was it locked to? That might have been a larger contributor than the "implied value" of the bike. Or maybe it's like cars - a cheap american POS might be more likely to be stolen because of the parts resale market, but a new exotic can't be resold (obviously stolen goods).

If your lock is crappier than the one next to you, yours is going first. The bike with the beefier lock next to you gets stolen second. Or to put it another way; if you and your friend are being chased by a bear......be the faster one, even though there are more bears.
That's a great website!!!
I'm registering my bike there right now.
Thanks for the info.
Hope every one keeps this on their bookmarks just in case, the biking gods forbid, their bike is stolen.
A suggestion: after you've gotten a bike and decided to keep it: ENGRAVE the top of the frame bar with your name, state, and drivers license (or ID) number. I've had two bike locks broken but the bike abandoned and I'm pretty much convinced it was because the thief decided that identification was too clear and could be traced.

You have to make it hard for the thief by using different items so the dumb ass will have to bring more tools to jack your ride. This increases the time making it more dangerous for the thief to get caught by you or having police getting involved. I have found if you do not want to lock it up, take it with you. The places I have found this to be the case are few and between. Another good sticker to get besides the Chainlink is "This rider only carries $20 dollars worth of ammuntion! or "This ride protected by Glock, ride at own risk, not responsible for injury or death that may occur if stolen." Saw this sticker on a Harley last year as this bike belonged to a cop. Just the idea of being shot trying to steal a bike may make some bike theives go the other way. Take pictures of your bike also with the sales recipt for recovery purposes should you see it again. Stay away from cheap locks that can be cut. Anything over 1-2" in dia is going to take a long time to break if it is a cable or chain. Only items that this does not apply to is U-locks since theives will use a bottle jack or liquid nitrogen, or freon to defeat the lock. As to making it look crappy, it will not matter if it is being partted out. Most thieves do not have the balls to ride the stolen bike as for fear of getting caught. Ingraving each componet may help also along with getting an off the wall paint job. Also a pair of old looking rims and adding things that appear to make your ride look broken and beat up help.
The paint/tape job on my college bike was similarly inspired - it was an ancient 1-speed Schwinn with a coaster brake painted bright metallic silver, candy-striped with safety orange reflective tape. Everyone could see me coming. There was no other bike around that looked anything like it. It spent a lot of time outside and never got touched. Of course, I also got a lot of crap for having a butt-ugly paint job.
Sorry to hear that your bike was stolen.

There will always be some (sad) exception, but I still believe that having your bike look unattractive is still one of the best theft deterents.

Some other "uglifying" techniques that make bikes less attractive in addition to tape, stickers and grime are to cover your seat with a plastic shopping bag and leaving trash in your basket/crate. Having a crate on your rack makes your bike look pretty scrappy to begin with. Leave some old shopping bags in there along with some aluminum cans or empty bottles and most people will think it's a bum bike. I like to leave a slightly inflated tube in my rear crate that serves as a shock absorber when carrying things on top of it.

I think that most people would try to avoid bum bags on bum bikes. Stick your hand in one and who knows what you'll pull back; a poo finger, a junky needle prick, etc!?!

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