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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Junkie Needle Prick ? Reminds me of George Carlin.
Bikefreeek said:
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!?!

This reminds me of a recent Bike Snob post, featuring a condom grip. Definitely wouldn't want to touch that.
jamimaria said:
Bikefreeek said:
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!?!

This reminds me of a recent Bike Snob post, featuring a condom grip. Definitely wouldn't want to touch that.

The condom bargrips were priceless - even for BikeSnobNYC.
Yeah, I have a twelve year old bike that's pretty well uglified. I've kept it that long. I've also used a good solid U-lock on it it all that time. I lost a seat once, and a rear wheel once, but the bike is still in my possession. And it has some pretty cool stickers too, but it has a bunch of duct tape on it, and it's grey, and dirty, so it doesn't stand out much.

I think uglification does help. I think it isn't a good substitute for a good lock. Or just being less than top of the line.

But sometimes, you're just unlucky. I mean, if you look over thousands of bikes, I bet most of the ones that get stolen look somewhat fancy. But every now and then some less-than fancy bike is gonna get ripped off too.

Sorry it happened to you.
This pic is hilarious.

Jim said:

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.
Is there any rule against branding your bike as a police bike?

That might uglify the bike enough.
Sorry to hear your bike was stolen. I'm not quite sure how to weigh in on theft prevention, appearance-wise. My minuscule (I'm 4'9.5") mid-70's Kia 10-speed, complete with stickers, rubbing brakes, under-inflated tires, and an horrendous appetite for bottom brackets (seriously, two in four months)--which I purchased at a thrift store for a whopping $10--was stolen out of my office building two years ago in August. Perhaps I shouldn't have swapped out that OEM bailing twine (for duck tape) that was holding the cables in place?
Are you sure it wasn't thrown out by mistake by the cleaning crew? Sorry for your loss - but if it was too junky looking, maybe the janitor tossed it in the dumpster?

EevelWeezel said:
Sorry to hear your bike was stolen. I'm not quite sure how to weigh in on theft prevention, appearance-wise. My minuscule (I'm 4'9.5") mid-70's Kia 10-speed, complete with stickers, rubbing brakes, under-inflated tires, and an horrendous appetite for bottom brackets (seriously, two in four months)--which I purchased at a thrift store for a whopping $10--was stolen out of my office building two years ago in August. Perhaps I shouldn't have swapped out that OEM bailing twine (for duck tape) that was holding the cables in place?
Thanks for the reminder!
Is there now.

h3 said:
Hey Hector,
don't forget to place that report!
http://chicago.stolenbike.org
It was a Master U-lock. Pretty crappy I'm told. Paid 9 bucks for it at target.
It was locked to a pole on one of those little garden fences on the side walk. I should've locked it to a meter pole.
I agree with you.
Hence my question on the "crappy look"
I guess now days it really doesn't matter any more?
I'm trying to personalize my "new" bike so it has distinctive characteristics.
A personality of it's own!


h3 said:
Back to the topic, I don't believe "ugly" is really what anyone needs to go for, but 'professional' bike thieves prefer bikes that look as new as possible, so anything you do to personalize your bike helps (but is a much much lesser factor than locking method.)
I was actually pretty good friends with the janitor, who also rode a bike, so I doubt it.

spacemodular said:
Are you sure it wasn't thrown out by mistake by the cleaning crew? Sorry for your loss - but if it was too junky looking, maybe the janitor tossed it in the dumpster?

EevelWeezel said:
Sorry to hear your bike was stolen. I'm not quite sure how to weigh in on theft prevention, appearance-wise. My minuscule (I'm 4'9.5") mid-70's Kia 10-speed, complete with stickers, rubbing brakes, under-inflated tires, and an horrendous appetite for bottom brackets (seriously, two in four months)--which I purchased at a thrift store for a whopping $10--was stolen out of my office building two years ago in August. Perhaps I shouldn't have swapped out that OEM bailing twine (for duck tape) that was holding the cables in place?

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