The Chainlink

Please use this thread as a notepad to list ways the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry could be modified/revised to be a more useful to to combating bike theft.


Paul (the tech mastermind) gets sporadic opportunities to work on it and it would be nice to have it all in one place.

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Tank riding Ryan posted to a thread that he'd like to see more definition it terms of locking choices (right TRR?)
For journalists:

Would like to be able to pull up all recovered bike listings with one sort/search operation.

Same with witnessed or recorded thefts-- maybe there could be a new checkbox for "theft was witnessed/recorded"
My number one desire would be to be able to color-code the gmap view balloons either by lock type or by age of theft, in order to show trends--and also to be able to filter by same. Let's say you wanted to get a sting operation going- the map view would be the best way to see where the hottest spots are, but you'd really want to be able to view only the last 3 or 6 months. You might also want to look at the map in different time windows (e.g. 0-6 months old, 6-12 months old, 12-24 months old) to spot trends.

Also we've recently had a number of requests to output thefts by police beat or district for people to take to their beat meetings to ask for attention.
I think a few pull down menus on the home page that allow us to search the database by type, make, model, year/era, neighborhoods and not only by keyword or zip code.
This would all be great!


H3N3 said:
My number one desire would be to be able to color-code the gmap view balloons either by lock type or by age of theft, in order to show trends--and also to be able to filter by same. Let's say you wanted to get a sting operation going- the map view would be the best way to see where the hottest spots are, but you'd really want to be able to view only the last 3 or 6 months. You might also want to look at the map in different time windows (e.g. 0-6 months old, 6-12 months old, 12-24 months old) to spot trends.

Also we've recently had a number of requests to output thefts by police beat or district for people to take to their beat meetings to ask for attention.
to add to what Ruben is saying (and maybe its saying the same thing) (and mind you, im not a tech guy), but filtering options...much like in MS Excel, a complete filtering tool that breaks down each category (which could ultimately correlate back to the balloon map and vice versa).

Ruben Dario Fernandez said:
I think a few pull down menus on the home page that allow us to search the database by type, make, model, year/era, neighborhoods and not only by keyword or zip code.
From Joel:

The site should be database driven (if it isn't) and allow you to sort by date stolen, date entered, area stolen, etc. Really, you should be able to order and filter by most any attribute. Someone could use the Google Maps API to show the location of each theft as well.
I'm not sure how you would execute these ideas, without cluttering the site... but I think a little more info for the "lister," might help those of us involved in recovery. For example:

Why do we ask for your phone number? Because WE WILL CALL YOU if we find your bike. Moreover, YOU NEED TO BE ON ALERT/STANDBY. ANSWER YOUR PHONE! This is especially important for those who have not provided us with a serial number - when we find your bike, you will need to be available to identify your bike personally. Not being able to reach someone or reaching them too late can be the difference between "finding" a bike listed on the CSBR and "recovering" it.

When your bike is stolen, file a report ASAP with the CPD (and keep your copy on hand)! It provides evidence that your bike was reported stolen. For those without serial numbers, it may help you create a history of ownership.

If you do not have a serial number, you should amass as much information on your bike as possible (photos of bike, of you on bike, receipts, service info, the guide that came with your bike, the reflector that broke off and left a piece on the bike, the light/computer for the mount that may/may not still be on your bike, etc. etc.). You might also print out your CSBR listing and/or make up a "stolen bike flyer" with photos, etc. - which aren't proof of ownership, but if it works, lucky you! In sum, while nothing can replace having a serial number, these things might help sway your case should your bike be found and we need you to come identify your bike personally.

For the description of your bike on the CSBR, do a visual survey of your bike from pedals to bars. Do not assume that people know what "stock" means or that your bike has been stripped. People often forget the obvious (handlebar type/color, toe clips, pedals, #speeds, breaks, shifter type, cage, water bottle, rack, kickstand) and the less obvious (remaining mounts, including lock mount, stickers, store i.d., scrapes, tears, sticky gears, etc.). Too general a description makes it harder for us to identify.

As far as searching the registry, yes, more filtering options. That said, when you find a bike, you sometimes need to back it up and go broader when you don't find the "specific" bike. Last weekend I had the experience of searching "Schwinn," "Shwinn," "green cruiser," "green Schwinn," etc. That's often because people don't know the make, model, or type of bike they have, and of course, there are spelling mistakes!

Also, I don't always understand the "date" system and the order in which bikes are listed (when you scroll from top to bottom). Seems that when people make editorial changes, things switch around - but, I can't be sure. I need to look more closely at that.
I don't like the idea that other people are taking responsibility for a third party's property.
"We" should not undertake to call them or search for their stolen property and should not represent that we will. We have the sticky Lee Diamond post for "what to do when your bike is stolen," we should really have a sticky post, "what to do before your bike is stolen;" i.e write down your serial number; take photographs; make notes of attached accessories; save your receipt; put a business card inside the handlebar or seat tube where only you know it is located; lock it with a newer u-lock (or two).

Judging from the thread of a couple weeks ago regarding the Chicago Police Bike Registry, my guess is fewer than 10% of the people on this site know what their serial number is.

It would be nice to be able to search excluding listings that don't have serial numbers OR police reports.



Amy Abramson said:
I'm not sure how you would execute these ideas, without cluttering the site... but I think a little more info for the "lister," might help those of us involved in recovery. For example:
Why do we ask for your phone number? Because WE WILL CALL YOU if we find your bike. Moreover, YOU NEED TO BE ON ALERT/STANDBY. ANSWER YOUR PHONE! This is especially important for those who have not provided us with a serial number - when we find your bike, you will need to be available to identify your bike personally. Not being able to reach someone or reaching them too late can be the difference between "finding" a bike listed on the CSBR and "recovering" it.
When your bike is stolen, file a report ASAP with the CPD (and keep your copy on hand)! It provides evidence that your bike was reported stolen. For those without serial numbers, it may help you create a history of ownership.

If you do not have a serial number, you should amass as much information on your bike as possible (photos of bike, of you on bike, receipts, service info, the guide that came with your bike, the reflector that broke off and left a piece on the bike, the light/computer for the mount that may/may not still be on your bike, etc. etc.). You might also print out your CSBR listing and/or make up a "stolen bike flyer" with photos, etc. - which aren't proof of ownership, but if it works, lucky you! In sum, while nothing can replace having a serial number, these things might help sway your case should your bike be found and we need you to come identify your bike personally.

For the description of your bike on the CSBR, do a visual survey of your bike from pedals to bars. Do not assume that people know what "stock" means or that your bike has been stripped. People often forget the obvious (handlebar type/color, toe clips, pedals, #speeds, breaks, shifter type, cage, water bottle, rack, kickstand) and the less obvious (remaining mounts, including lock mount, stickers, store i.d., scrapes, tears, sticky gears, etc.). Too general a description makes it harder for us to identify.

As far as searching the registry, yes, more filtering options. That said, when you find a bike, you sometimes need to back it up and go broader when you don't find the "specific" bike. Last weekend I had the experience of searching "Schwinn," "Shwinn," "green cruiser," "green Schwinn," etc. That's often because people don't know the make, model, or type of bike they have, and of course, there are spelling mistakes!

Also, I don't always understand the "date" system and the order in which bikes are listed (when you scroll from top to bottom). Seems that when people make editorial changes, things switch around - but, I can't be sure. I need to look more closely at that.
Thanks, folks. When Paul has time we'll go over this thread and cull out the things than can be implemented. Always a danger of overloading the reader with info resulting in nothing being read, in regard to Amy's post. It;s easy to add instructions under every field but they don't get read for the most part. I have to edit every third post to deselect "newer U-lock with flat key", for example, even though there are instructions to select "no lock" if a lock was not compromized to steal a bike (e.g. they pried a wood rail off a porch or sawed a tree in half).
Still, I've missed many, and I estimate the stats for newer U-lock are artificially inflated.

Amy, the order is by when reports were made, newest to oldest. Editing a report does not bounce it to the top in the web view (although it does in the admin/approve module.)
This can be changed if there's a good reason . . . is there?
What about a FAQ's section?

Thanks for the clarification, Howard. I get it now.
It would be great if there was a search function to enter:
Make/Model:
Frame Size:

That way if someone sees a bike, they could enter: the make or model and the frame size to narrow the search list more easily. There could be an output that would list on a single line:

[Make/Model] [Frame size] [color] [serial #] [link to entry]

At the Swap-o-Rama, if I saw a Trek 7000, I had to click through many listings in which the frame size or the color was wrong. It really drew down my iPhone battery.

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