The Chainlink

So, you see your stolen bike on Craigslist...what do you do? (Think of this as an idea generator)


   Cannot locate original purchase info (and hence, no serial number)

   You are not inclined to brain someone with your u-lock

   You just want the bike back

Okay? Ideas on the mark, set, go!

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This doesn't help after the fact, but it occurs to me that it's past time I photograph my bikes, including serial numbers, and email them to myself on a Google account that I don't use for anything I wouldn't want to be exposed in court. (That way, the date is established by an independent party. If they cough it up for the NSA...)

If I could document that the bike was mine, then I'd contact the pollice and ideally have them attempt to purchase the bike. Best case, the thief (or fence) is caught. Worst case, the bike is located.

Pretty much your only choice is to be full of regret you did not record the serial number...


Jeff Schneider said:

Let it go and get on with your life.  Be happy that you have more to live for than owning a particular bike, while in contrast the thief (like all bike thieves) is justly destined to burn in hell.

The major factor is the serial number. I have also registered my bikes with the CPD cause I would like to get them back if they get into the system and as stated its a chain of possesion thing.

I am not defending the practice of not recording one's serial numb er, but I have helped a number of victims who didn't have record of it recover stolen bikes, with police assistance.

As long as you filed a police report and have something that can be taken as proof (picture of you with bike, receipt for components/accessories etc.) you are not completely dead in the water.

If you didn't even bother to file a police report.... heaven helps those....

One thing missing from the OP-- do you care about nobody besides yourself and are you willing to reward and help perpetuate thievery, ultimately causing people who have just switched to bicycle commuting to be discouraged and give up?

Because the simple solution then is to buy your bike back.

Note to those who believe that hell is on earth: it is not legal to incinerate thieves.

Jeff Schneider said:

 the thief (like all bike thieves) is justly destined to burn in hell.

Exactly my purpose for registering too. It's quite simple and establishes custody at a certain date. It's unfortunate that it can't also be flagged as stolen in the CPD database. I've got one registered under my name still that was stolen last year, in hopes it might eventually turn up with the serial number intact.

Jeff Markus said:

The major factor is the serial number. I have also registered my bikes with the CPD cause I would like to get them back if they get into the system and as stated its a chain of possesion thing.

The Chicago police have such a broken system that they can't pull up a police report with the police report number some of the time. I won't post details because I'm not sure of them (and they may be outdated), but I've received information to the effect that the city's bicycle registration system is even more broken.

There is absolutely value in registering your bike though, as it's one of the few times you're likely to record your serial number (to keep for yourself.) Absolutely screen-shot your registration when you create it and give it a file name you're likely to find later in a search.

OK, so major 'need to know' in order to answer the OP-- have you filed a police report or not?

Outside of the police report question, since you cannot locate your purchase info you can always try calling up the bike shop you bought it from and ask them if they can pull up your purchase info.

Registering your bike and registering your bike as stolen are two different things.

There's an obscure Chicago Ordinance that actually requires you to register your bike with the Chicago Police Department. As h' suggested, that registration system is somewhat flawed in that registrations drop out after two years or so. That's right, after two years, your registration doesn't exist anymore. The exercise is not completely worthless however, since it forces you to write down your serial number, and when you submit your registration, you can print (or save as a pdf) your registration, and you will forever have a record of what your serial number is/was. Everyone still reading this, please, reach your camera phone under your bike and take a photograph of the underside of your bike's bottom bracket. Now you have a picture of your serial number. For those suspicious of the CPD, or uncomfortable with the fact that your registration will disappear within two years, you can also register with Bike Index. It's free. We also have a link to Bike Index on the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry.

If your bike is stolen, file a police report with CPD (311). If you don't have the serial number of your bike, they may give you a hard time about it, but insist. Register the bike with the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry. The faster you do that, the better your chances of recovery and being reunited with your bike. When bikes are recovered by the police (whether local or state), they are almost always indexed by serial number. Each year, hundreds or thousands of recovered bikes get donated or auctioned because law enforcement can't match a serial number to an owner. Fewer than a third of the reports to the CSBR include a serial number. You really, really should write down your serial number. 



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