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Fight Bicycle Theft With the Open Source Bike Registry

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the only-steal-the-yellow-bikes dept.

Crime 135

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "No one wants to buy a stolen bike, but if you see a bike you're interested in on Craigslist or at a flea market, there isn't a good way to know if it's stolen. Now Kickstarter has an interesting project that is looking for funding to expand a searchable database that will help users protect their bikes by permanently saving the bike's serial number. 'We regularly saw people trying to sell stolen bikes, and would search for the bikes online — but it was too difficult to find definitive information about them because too few people save their serial numbers,' says Seth Herr, founder of the Bike Index and lead developer of the project. Herr envisions Bike Index as a way to solve the 'awareness problem' — awareness of existing registries and of a bike's identifying information. 'A common problem when people get their bikes stolen is that it's like the first time the owner thinks about "What was my serial number?" and other details that are important in recovering a stolen bike,' says Marcus Moore. If every bike shop integrated Bike Index registration at the point of sale, that would make it easy for victims of bike theft to accurately report a stolen bike, and for bike purchasers to verify that they aren't buying stolen goods. The Project plans to collaborate with Bryan Hance, the founder of stolenbikeregistry.com, one of the Internet's first-ever registries to track stolen bikes, which already has almost 20,000 bicycles in its registry."

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Good luck with that! (1, Interesting)

itsme1234 (199680) | about 10 months ago | (#45108557)

I was saying the same about IMSIs earlier ... we can't agree on what's the decimal separator, if today is 12/10 or 10/12, user1@gmail.com can't chat to user2@yahoo.com but somehow we'll get a reasonable percentage of the owners AND buyers to register in some specific database. Good luck with that.

Not only that but it also assumes you can't tamper with the serial and doesn't address what happens if somebody starts to spam the DB.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

itsme1234 (199680) | about 10 months ago | (#45108605)

... for who's paying attention: I meant IMEIs of course.

Re:Good luck with that! (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45108735)

Also, the registry assumes that anybody buying off of craigslist cares. Ftfs:

No one wants to buy a stolen bike

[citation needed]

Re:Good luck with that! (2)

gregor-e (136142) | about 10 months ago | (#45108827)

Anyone who cares about whether they're buying a stolen bike should ask the seller for the serial number. Thieves will balk at providing it, whereas legit sellers should have no problem.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 10 months ago | (#45109051)

You might've stumbled onto the best solution yet; ask Craigslist and other online market places to require sellers to list the serial number of the bike (frame) they're selling. If the number's been filed off, then it simply can't be sold.

Re:Good luck with that! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109093)

Cyclists swerve in the middle of turn-lanes, disobey traffic signs and lights often causing danger to motorists and pedestrians alike, and generally behave like douchebags whether they're a scruffy hipster ridding to a job, or a dickhead-helmetted bumblebee riding a carbon-fiber in the nice part of town.

In short, cyclists are among the biggest douchebags on the planet, and deserve every bit of bike-related trouble they get. Hell, at least half of them drive BMWs anyway. If a cyclist's bike was stolen, they should be glad that's all that happened to them.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 10 months ago | (#45109187)

You are a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45109139)

1) without stolen goods and prostitution CL would go out of business
2) no problem for me, my serial number is 12345. like the combination for my luggage lock!

Re:Good luck with that! (2)

chromas (1085949) | about 10 months ago | (#45109381)

Uh, hi, I'd like to report that noh8rz10 is trying to sell my stolen luggage. I know this because he has my serial number and combination. Is this the right place?

Re:Good luck with that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109417)

In my country stolen cars often end up in a neighbouring country.

I wonder if it's worth smuggling bicycles to Mexico to sell them there.

Re:Good luck with that! (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45109691)

obv your cars get sent across the border to a shady nation for resale. you live in canada?

Re:Good luck with that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45111037)

Frames are important, and yes, they are usually stamped or serial numbered. However, there are a lot of goodies that are along for the ride.

Chains, cogs, suspension forks, pedals, derailleurs, shifters, cables/housings, brakes, wheels, bike computers, are all stuff that has no serial numbers, and can easily be sold to people who want a better grouppo and don't want do pony up the ten to 20 C-notes for XTR or Dura-Ace.

Bike thieves know this. In my neck of the woods, it is pretty common to see a well locked frame... but the fork is missing, the brakes have been pulled, and even things like pedals and cranksets disappear. So far, i've even seen bottom brackets pulled... and one has to be pretty damn desperate to pull a BB from a frame.

This is the same with iPhones, why even if they never work, why they are a target of thieves -- the gestalt may not sell, but part it out, and a thief can make some quite good money.

Craigslist could require... (2)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 10 months ago | (#45108639)

that every bike ad include a serial number, and have a link to the database at the top of the Bikes for Sale page. Tampering would not be easy,SNs are stamped into the frame. Spamming the DB could be a problem

Re:Craigslist could require... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45108711)

The database could be maintained by the Police. Only reported stolen bikes would be on it.

Yeah sure ... like the police have extra $$$ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108925)

... to waste maintaining a useless database.

Some people have no clue of how real life works.

Re:Craigslist could require... (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 10 months ago | (#45109457)

What makes you think bike theft is any sort of priority for police? They can't make money from it.

Re:Craigslist could require... (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 10 months ago | (#45109793)

Sure they do. They regularly have auctions where they sell recovered stolen property, and usually have an excellent selection of very nice bikes.

Re:Craigslist could require... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110697)

It does when they're the ones doing the thieving [vivianpaige.com] .

Apparently there was a little know ordinance that you had to have your bike registered with the city. I didn't know anyone that did or even know that you had to. If the police asked about your bike and it wasn't registered, they could impound it on the spot. But cops being cops, they were confiscating a lot of bikes from lower income neighborhoods while leaving more affluent areas alone. Then they would sell the bikes at auction. I believe they repealed the ordinance requiring you to register your bike with the city (though still encourage it) after this story came out.

Re:Craigslist could require... (3, Informative)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#45110545)

that every bike ad include a serial number, and have a link to the database at the top of the Bikes for Sale page.

If I were a thief, I'd just post a wrong serial number. Just switch two digits or some other "honest" error. Most likely, no one would ever check.

Re:Good luck with that! (2)

TWX (665546) | about 10 months ago | (#45108729)

Not only that but it also assumes you can't tamper with the serial and doesn't address what happens if somebody starts to spam the DB.

I think it's worse than that. This'll only work if it's compulsory and if access is controlled through an otherwise-disinterested third party. Do you want to have to deal with the equivalent of a motor-vehicle-department in order to register a purchase of a bike and to notify on sale or theft?

This isn't like cell phones, where having only a handful of companies denying a reported-stolen phone access to their networks could effectively end phone theft, there are no small points of access to make for that sort of thing.

One can attempt to protect one's self by recording serial numbers in files, adding one's own identifying stamped-in marks to the bike, locking up the bike to make it less desirable of a target in the first place, and when possible, not leaving it where it's out-in-public when not being ridden.

Re:Good luck with that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108913)

In fact, in my state, that's exactly how it worked ages ago, like in the 50's - 70's. Bicycles were serial numbered, registered with the state, and even had to have little bicycle license plates if they were to be rode on public property.

I think they changed it in the late 70's. Probably wasn't worth the hassle.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 10 months ago | (#45109661)

They used to do that in Ontario too. You would affix it to your bike using the same or similar kind of metal straps they use to seal containers for customs/duty purposes, so that it would stay with the bike as long as you owned it. It was kind of cool as a kid to go license your bike. It was like hey, this is the first official thing that is mine, not my parents! :)

Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108789)

Just embed your iphone in the frame and use find my phone feature in iCloud.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108877)

The scheme also wrongfully assumes all buyers actually want to deter bike theft. I assure there are allot of people who would gladly buy a stolen bike at half the price fully aware the bike is "a steal" so to speak. In the extremely unlikely case that you are are caught buying, if collaborate fully (return the bike, give full info on the seller etc.) you face no criminal liability.

Buying stolen goods is virtually unprosecutable because it's requires proving knowledge of the theft. If the serial is torn off or deteriorated it's almost impossible even for the owner to prove it's his bike, unless he has photographic evidence or witness testimony about the bike's particularities, scratches etc.

Re:Good luck with that! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109185)

Buying stolen goods is virtually unprosecutable because it's requires proving knowledge of the theft.

However, possession of stolen goods is a slam-dunk, and a lot of police departments don't really care how you got them.

yeah right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108559)

Bike registries make the incorrect assumption that people buying stolen bikes don't want to buy a stolen bike. They want a cheap bike and know that stolen ones are the cheapest.

Re:yeah right (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45108721)

No, but it certainly makes police sting operations a lot easier.

This is retarded (3, Insightful)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 10 months ago | (#45108569)

If your bike is stolen by someone dumb enough to sell it as-is, this would work great. But most bike thieves dismantle it, shuffle the parts, repaint everything, and file those numbers off. How will a registry help you then?

If the number's filed off... (2)

Radical Moderate (563286) | about 10 months ago | (#45108607)

it's obviously stolen. Agreed, this won't help the parting-out, but if it makes the frame unsellable, that's a hit to the thief.

Re:If the number's filed off... (4, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#45108695)

It only makes it unsellable to people who would bother to check such a registry in the first place... which are the same people who wouldn't have bought a bike they couldn't check or were able to find that it was stolen in the first place. It doesn't harm the seller in the least.

Re:If the number's filed off... (2)

swillden (191260) | about 10 months ago | (#45108871)

It only makes it unsellable to people who would bother to check such a registry in the first place... which are the same people who wouldn't have bought a bike they couldn't check or were able to find that it was stolen in the first place. It doesn't harm the seller in the least.

That's too strong. I think there are a fair number of people who would check a bike registry if it were available, and would be skeptical of a bike with its numbers filed off (and might only notice the numbers were removed if they were trying to look it up in a registry), but wouldn't think twice about buying a used bike in the absence of a way to check. Making checks generally more accurate and the capability more widely known would reduce the seller's potential market... which does harm the seller. Lower demand and prices will decline.

Plus, the stupid bike thieves will end up getting caught and prosecuted, which will probably lower the total number of bike thefts.

The challenge is in making it sufficiently universal to make it useful. Getting retailers on board is essential and advertising to raise public awareness would be really valuable. Perhaps retailers could distribute a flyer along with the bike.

Re:If the number's filed off... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#45109055)

I'd hope you're right that it leads to some improvement. I fear, it won't, however, since as I said... so many stolen bikes have their identifying serials filed right off.

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108629)

At least in Finland, the police find thousands of "loaned" bikes that never find their owners. The police keep them in lost and found for a couple of years and then auction them away. They are quite frustrated with the whole process.

Re:This is retarded (2)

greggman (102198) | about 10 months ago | (#45109267)

When I was growing up (70s) in Southern California you could register your bike with the police. They'd stamp a number into it. I had my bike stolen 3 times, got it back from the police twice. Since it was registered they called us when they found it.

Same in Japan far more recently. Bought a bike, registered it with the police, go stolen, got it back from the police since it was registered they knew how to contact me.

In other words, this seems like a solvable problem for the most part. If Finland wants it to work they need just need to require people to register their bikes, with contact info, at the time of sale just like people have to register cars when they're sold.

That might not help if the thieves file off the numbers but my experience is they don't do that enough so registering still makes sense.

It should be even easier now since back then it was paperwork but nowadays it could easily be done online with smartphones requiring far less manpower to deal with registration.

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109667)

Register bike with police --> bike repeatedly gets stolen. Sounds fishy to me~

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108659)

I find it extremely hard to believe that "most" people who ride off with someone's bike will go to all this effort.

Re:This is retarded (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45108749)

Dude, we're talking bicycles not motorbikes

Re:This is retarded (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 10 months ago | (#45109791)

So? Just the brakes on my commuter bicycle (not motorbike) cost about EUR400. It can be worth it just to steal it for parts.

Re:This is retarded (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45109937)

So? Just the brakes on my commuter bicycle (not motorbike) cost about EUR400. It can be worth it just to steal it for parts.

lolwut? commuter bikes are supposed to be replaceable, because they get beat up so much. i understand a road bike costing that much, becasue they'll take as much money as you have.

my whole commuter bike cost $450 -> 300 EUR. it was super solid for 3 years until ironically in the spirit of this thread it was stolen (lock was clipped). pro tip - save money where it doesn't make much difference, and spend money where it makes a big difference. some free advice for you.

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110203)

Commuter bikes can be spendy, but they should be sturdy. They don't need to be sturdy enough to go mountain biking. There is an art to locking a bike too.

Re:This is retarded (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 10 months ago | (#45110745)

I spend 3500-5000 km every year on my commuter bike. I want it to be as comfortable as possible. If it results in a full suspension frame, fancy hydraulic brakes (Brakeforce One in this case) and carbon parts here and there, so be it. I use a good lock, many parts are secured with pinhead skewers and the bike is insured as well.

Oh, by the way, I don't really need pro tips, I build my bikes myself.

Re:This is retarded (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 10 months ago | (#45111319)

Fancy suspension I can understand, but Hydraulic brakes? Does that really make a difference for comfort? What makes them any better than a decent set of caliper brakes?

Re:This is retarded (2)

bikeindex (3395489) | about 10 months ago | (#45108983)

I have never seen a serial number that has been filed off. They're generally pretty deeply engrave (in metal frames) and so obscuring them would threaten the structural integrity of your bottom bracket.

Perhaps when the Bike Index is larger, this will be a bigger issue, but it hasn't been an issue yet.

As for parting out, yes, that's a big problem. We're thinking up a clever solution for tracking parts, but we haven't yet nailed it down.

Serial numbers are not engraved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109377)

Many bike companies just put them on a sticker which is usually applied to a greased frame.... After all the metal work, frame design, and painting is all done in china for 99% of the bikes from $100 huffys to $10,000 magic metal frame bikes. You are lucky if anyone in America even counts the parts in the box.

Re:This is retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109679)

I have never seen a serial number that has been filed off

That's because it's not there anymore.

Re:This is retarded (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 10 months ago | (#45111287)

That sounds like a lot of work. Couldn't these highly industrious thieves you describe make a lot more money with a lot less hassle by just operating a legitimate bike customization, sales, and repair shop?

Easier URL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108573)

please grab hotbikes.com as well

The intent is laudable, but will it work? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 10 months ago | (#45108609)

I somehow suspect that the kinds of people who may accidentally buy stolen goods aren't the sort who would think to check a registry first to see if the goods they wanted to buy were actually stolen... and those who would do it deliberately wouldn't care.

For what it's worth, most stolen bikes have their serial number filed right off anyways... so it's not possible to check them in the registry. Of course, one can just refuse outright to buy a bike that they can't read the serial number of, but I suspect that people who neglect to do this may fit into the above category of person anyways.

Re:The intent is laudable, but will it work? (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 10 months ago | (#45108685)

Have to agree with you. I bought my bike new from a reputable dealer but can't imagine people wanting to save money will bother checking a serial number against a database. I've never even looked at the serial number on my bike.

Maybe if there was a good chance of being prosecuted for "Possession of stolen goods" if you bought a bike that was in the database or had a filed off serial number and should have known it was stolen it would prevent theft? Put a few people who purchased stolen bikes into prison for a few years and people in the market for used bikes might look a bit closer?

That or just drive some nails through the forearms of bike thieves and hang them up in the location the bike was stolen as a warning to other potential thieves.

Re:The intent is laudable, but will it work? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108779)

Your post highlights perfectly why drivers and pedestrians alike hate cyclists with a passion. Irrational, self-important, entitled, attention whores all of you.

Re:The intent is laudable, but will it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108907)

Yup- he doesn't do the cyclist any favors. People need to step back and put themselves in others shoes. Elitism is rampant amongst the middle and upper classes. People don't generally want to steal. It's the result of disparity and need. Just because you were able to get yourself out of a shitty impoverished situation by 'working hard' doesn't mean the rest of those at the bottom are capable of the same thing. Discriminating against those at the bottom is wrong. Capitalism where the bottom are left in dire straights and have no hope to succeed is also wrong. Criminals should be held back. It only hurts society at large by locking ex-cons into a career of criminality. It would be selfish in fact to give the majority of criminals the support they need to move up in society rather than locking them up. All because it's self-beneficial to do so.

Re:The intent is laudable, but will it work? (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 10 months ago | (#45109537)

You're implying that bike theft is the first step toward some sort of productive career? Or what are you getting at? To imply that rejection of criminality of 'elitist' is to suggest that criminality is acceptable behavior.

It isn't luck that gets you out of poverty - it's planning and a few simple rules.
1: Graduate high-school
2: Work hard and don't be a criminal
3: Don't have kids before you're financially stable with a solid safety net

The sorts of people that run off with bikes aren't doing it because they want to feed themselves. They do so because they don't value the property rights of others. Those are not the sorts of people I want working with or under me.

bizn4t3h (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108633)

To fight What has

Good idea, however (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#45108669)

It's a good start, but it's far short of optimal.
It sounds kind of like a VIN that cars have, but more accessible to the average person to check on and not as extensive.

Hate to say it, but where I live is the bike theft capital of the world.
It wouldn't do much good, unless it was on each part of the bike.
They steal everything they can, even if it's only a seat or a tire, or even the handlebars. When they have enough parts, they assemble a bike.
The chains careful people use can often outweigh the bike. :(
Seeing people carrying their seats or occasionally a wheel is not uncommon, and those aren't the thieves either.

So it's a good start, but there needs to be more to really make an impact, and it's going to have to include the industry as well.
Good luck.

Re:Good idea, however (3, Informative)

meerling (1487879) | about 10 months ago | (#45108677)

Sorry, but I thought I'd mention this as well.
On campus one day between classes, I walked past a bikerack that was loaded with bikes. (I was delivering something to one of the departments.) When I came back by less than 15 minutes later, the entire rack was gone, bikes and all. Like I said, we have a very active and persistent community of bike thieves here.

Re:Good idea, however (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 10 months ago | (#45110309)

Makes me wonder if it was the thieves' bike rack that they placed there. They needed to know that their truck could hold that specific rack (and that they could lift it).

Re:Good idea, however (3, Funny)

Zemran (3101) | about 10 months ago | (#45108713)

One of my classmates at university went to where he had left his bike and all that was left was the front wheel chained to a post. As he walked off with his front wheel he met someone who had had chained his frame to a post and all that had been stolen was the front wheel...

Re:Good idea, however (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 10 months ago | (#45108719)

The thieves aren't just taking the wheels and seats to assemble bikes later. They're marking them hoping that someone will come back to their bike without a seat or wheel will leave it there overnight rather than carry it home.

Re:Good idea, however (0)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#45108763)

Once I was in a coffee shop and someone stole a bungee off my bike. How lame is that!

Re:Good idea, however (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109723)

And then they started putting out halos and continued doing so long after they said they were done :(

Re:Good idea, however (1)

bikeindex (3395489) | about 10 months ago | (#45109027)

Thank you! We're working on reaching more people in the industry and more retailers, and this Kickstarter has been amazingly helpful. We know it's just a start - but we're excited about the start!

Re:Good idea, however (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109045)

The real problem is that human powered vehicles are considered second-class citizens when it comes to transportation. So it's not too surprising that when compared to a motorized vehicle, it's quite low on the priority list for law enforcement. Only places where it might be different are those locales where bicycles are considered legit transportation and may even be required to have license plates. (Perhaps a rare few cities in Asia or Europe, and that's about it.)

It's not exactly right, but until modern society's attitude about some things gets fixed, bicycle theft will remain an unresolved problem despite having all the means readily available to do something about it.

Re:Good idea, however (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110375)

Follow the traffic laws and maybe people will think bicyclists are worthy of respect again. And while we're at it, stay off of roads were the speed limit is 45mph or higher.

Theft solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108683)

Instead of a state-of-the-art bike with hydraulics and side-winder missiles, get yourself a rusted old beater that nobody would want to steal in the first place.

Re: Theft solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108709)

Which is why you see shit bikes being ridden in Shanghai, China regardless of the rider pulling a salary over 100k.

Don't want your bike stolen? Don't get a shiny new one!

Re:Theft solution (1, Redundant)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 10 months ago | (#45108733)

See, this is why we can't have nice things.

Re:Theft solution (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 10 months ago | (#45108787)

Where do you get a "rusted old beater" from? Classified ads...?

Uhuh.

I've been on this planet for a few years now and all evidence suggests that there's nothing that "isn't worth stealing". No profit is too small.

Re:Theft solution (2)

russotto (537200) | about 10 months ago | (#45110591)

Where do you get a "rusted old beater" from? Classified ads...?

Uhuh.

I'm told the way it works in Amsterdam is that when you move there, you buy a new bike (because you don't know any better). You ride this bike around until it is inevitably stolen. By then, you've found out about the bicycle flea markets, where you can get bikes dirt cheap (because, of course, they are stolen bikes). You buy a bike there. Eventually it is stolen (again), so back to the flea market.

It needs to be 100% free, or it wont work at all! (1)

yayoubetcha (893774) | about 10 months ago | (#45108741)

Why is Craigslist so successful? A) Outstanding User experience? B) The theme selections available? C) The lack of Ads? D) The price of posting an ad: $0.00.

Without near total market penetration with millions US bikes, and a real, secure, unalterable SID, all for free, this will no chance of success at all.

Anyway, I'm taking my bike with me when I'm on that one-way-trip to Mars reality TV show. Less likely my bike will be stolen.

This whole thing seems like a way for a couple of web-hackers to avoid getting a real job.

"Hey, that's my bike!" (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 10 months ago | (#45108757)

"What are you talking about?"
"My bike was stolen, and it looked jut like the one you're riding. Let me see the serial number!"
"F off."

UK already has this (5, Informative)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 10 months ago | (#45108785)

The UK police have regular bike registering events where you can take your bike and register it for free, otherwise the service is commercial and costs money ( http://www.bikeregister.com/ [bikeregister.com] ).

Wiggle.co.uk simply put the serial number on the new bike check list which came with the bike, so all the customer has do do is keep that list, Can't say if other bike merchants do the same.

Re:UK already has this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108969)

When I was a kid I remember they also had a similar bike registration drive. This was in the US though. It's clearly not new. What might be new is a central registration system that encompasses the world over. One of the problems that exist in the eastern United States or did was that gangs would drive around the suburbs picking up kids bikes and then exporting container loads of bikes to the third world for resale. It actuality its probably going to have little to no impact on bike theft.

What would probably have an impact is if we did more to avert career criminals. As it is our system is the reason for most crime. Rather than help rehabilitate criminals we crucify them and make it impossible to hold down real jobs when released from prison. Is essence we force a life of crime and poverty on them. It's only the brighter criminals and those with money/connections whom have a real chance of escaping this. And those handful of examples are not evidence that are system is just or working.

Re:UK already has this (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about 10 months ago | (#45109807)

In the Netherlands, the police regularly setup engraving points throughout the city every Wednesday, with a posted schedule & route. Anyone can stop, get their bicycle engraved and registered for free. So the police have the database everyone looks to.

Bike theft has been such a problem, the current rules upon being caught buying *or* selling a stolen bicycle require a mandatory night in jail, plus other treats. Bike theft has since declined.

There has also been a program where you can implant an RFID chip in your bike. The idea is if a beat-cop walks buy and the scanner goes beep.... (however the program didn't take off like gangbusters as one would hope, and I'm not sure why).

http://www.amsterdam.nl/parkeren-verkeer/fiets/fietsdepot/fiets_graveren/ [amsterdam.nl]

http://chipabike.com/index.html [chipabike.com]

Re:UK already has this (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 10 months ago | (#45110403)

There has also been a program where you can implant an RFID chip in your bike. The idea is if a beat-cop walks buy and the scanner goes beep.... (however the program didn't take off like gangbusters as one would hope, and I'm not sure why).

Because people realize that the police would use the RFID tags to silently keep tabs on where everyone bicycles?

Indelible paint (1)

Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) | about 10 months ago | (#45110071)

If I remember correctly, you can also get your postal code (which in the UK has a detailed granularity) painted "indelibly" on your bike.

How about privacy? (1)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45108799)

If every bike shop integrated Bike Index registration at the point of sale, that would make it easy for victims of bike theft to accurately report a stolen bike, and for bike purchasers to verify that they aren't buying stolen goods.

Yeah, because the serial numbers and mandatory registrations have done so well to stop automotive theft.

I fear, we'll surrender yet another bit of privacy without tangible gain...

Re:How about privacy? (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 10 months ago | (#45108861)

Yeah, because the serial numbers and mandatory registrations have done so well to stop automotive theft.

They help a lot when a cop sees the car in question in between wherever it was stolen from, and the chop shop it's going to. Most importantly, it helps distinguish the stolen red Honda Civic from all of the legitimately owned red Honda Civics in the area, so the cops don't spend time chasing after the wrong car.

The reason cops don't go heavily after bike theft is that it's a relatively petty crime: A $200 theft is a very different animal from a $20,000 theft. I just wish that they spent an appropriate level of effort on those $20,000,000 thefts out there.

Re:How about privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108991)

This is of course assuming you are talking about a $200 bike. My 'cheap' hybrid bike is worth about $450. My road bike is also relatively cheap at $1,600. It's not uncommon for mid-range bikes to go for $2k-$5k, and they keep going up to your $20k mark.

Re:How about privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109835)

Add to that the fact that bike theft is much more pervasive than car theft and that when a bike gets stolen the effects go quite some way beyond the price of a new bike plus locks. Furthermore, people who steal bikes usually steal many more individually than a car thief steals cars, so even a single arrest can make a big dent. Personally I'm no fan of capital punishment, but where I live bike theft is the #1 social problem and if you were to hang every bike thief on town square, bike theft would be history within weeks.

Re:How about privacy? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 10 months ago | (#45111367)

I would love to live in a place where the #1 social problem was bike theft.

Re:How about privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109133)

Also some cars are stolen expressly to commit other crimes like bank robberies or for joy rides that may hurt other people or property in the process. Stolen bikes usually don't take down telephone poles at 2 in the morning because the thief was trying to do donuts with it.

Re:How about privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109981)

My bike costs around 4,000 dollars. Granted, that's a little on the high side but if you're going to do anything more than casual road or mountain biking then a 1,000 dollar bike is a worthwhile investment. (I don't let that bike out of my sight, for any reason. I've got a much cheaper commuter bike that I feel comfortable leaving locked up and unattended)

You are right in that cops don't give any attention to bike thefts, however. They really don't. They pay more attention to shoplifters. That's the real problem.

When someone can steal a 4,000 dollar item and not worry about even being investigated.. Well, you can probably see the incentive.

Re:How about privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110867)

Its a bike. I can't believe anyone cares enough to steal and sell bikes.

As for you... you paid $4000 for a freaking bike? Are you high? And if its stolen maybe you should have spent some extra money on a better security system for it. For that price you could have bought a car and it would be much less likely to be stolen.

Ridiculous.

Carbon frames (3, Funny)

jrq (119773) | about 10 months ago | (#45108823)

A nice idea, but carbon frames don't have a stamp, or engraved serial number. It's usually a sticker, or similar, which is easily removed or painted over.

Re:Carbon frames (2)

bikeindex (3395489) | about 10 months ago | (#45108959)

Most of the time the serial number sticker is under paint or a last carbon layup - so it's tough to remove. It can be painted over - but that is obvious and suspicious.

Re:Carbon frames (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 10 months ago | (#45111379)

If you're spending carbon frame money, why not spend a tiny fraction more on gluing rfid to the inside of the frame....

Open source? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108829)

So where's the source code for the site?

Re:Open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109047)

"open source" is a popular term on slashdot, so the summary writer threw it in for good measure.

Re:Open source? (1)

richlv (778496) | about 10 months ago | (#45109633)

um, they link to their github account from about -> resources page :

https://github.com/bikeindex [github.com]

Story sponsored by the NSA (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45108839)

Another tracking database....scumbags.

Bureaucratic (1)

Nehmo (757404) | about 10 months ago | (#45109343)

The problems and inadequacies with the system described are stated in many other posts, so I won't repeat. But I've been working on a bike theft deterrent system myself. Unfortunately, I don't feel comfortable describing my work in a public forum because my words may be used against me in court when my device executes properly. I've noticed, however, that if the case goes to a jury trial, the jury always acquits the property owner who made the booby trap. If you leave a bike poorly locked publicly in my city, someone inevitably will try to steal it. If you setup the situation, you will catch a thief in the act. If you are concerned about getting the wrong target, you can watch from a distance with a control.

Strange logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45109517)

The problem stated is that bike owners never look at the serial numbers of their bike, even when they buy it. The solution involves prospective bike owners looking at the serial number of the bike when they buy it, then looking it up in an online database.

If no one cares, they're not going to start caring because it involves more steps.

The majority of people who find a $600 bike for sale for $100 won't turn it down when they notice the serial numbers are filed off, they'll offer $50 instead. And most likely get it for that.

Useless (1)

#HashTagDeals (3395531) | about 10 months ago | (#45109563)

Having some personal experience with bike theft, this is pointless. This plan relies on the premises that the stolen bikes are sold, the potential buyers give a darn that its stolen, and that the identifying marks are on the bike when it changes hands. Police don't even care no matter how expensive the bike.

Already exists (1)

#HashTagDeals (3395531) | about 10 months ago | (#45109591)

We used to register bikes at the fire station in my neighborhood. A registry already exists. National Bicycle Registry Program: www.nationalbikeregistry.com/ or 1.800.848.BIKE (2453)

Another Way (0)

b4upoo (166390) | about 10 months ago | (#45109825)

From time to time bicycle thieves get caught. And we really can't lock them all up for long periods due to cost restraints. A very long probation sentence with community service thrown in and the probation fees could discourage that kind of thief. For example ten years of probation with 12 hours a week of approved community service and a $100. per month probation fee might cut the mustard. Also a life time denial of a driver's license might help.

The big problem is: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110247)

That no one records their serial number to begin with. I got my stolen bike back because I reported it with the serial number to the police. I keep my bike serial number with my passwords. People too lazy to do this claim that the numbers just get ground off anyway. They forget that the thieves are likely even lazier. My thief was caught on my bike while fleeing a burglary. I bought my bike from the Junk King. I checked the serial numbers with the state and universal registries. Some registries charge money that I could not justify. I am all for a free registry. My privacy concerns would limit registering a bike to only after it was stolen. That's when the serial number record matters.

parasitic govt agencies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45110747)

No doubt, even after this is in effect, all the numerous cities will still try and suck people's blood by demanding registration fees for bikes. Even when they do nothing to recover them. ;)

Let's just execute bike thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45111229)

After all, a bike is nothing more than a modern horse.
I'd suggest the breaking wheel for execution.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_wheel.

Shopping List (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45111245)

You mean the open source shopping list?

Easily gamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45111281)

What is to stop someone from harvesting the serial numbers of high-end bicycles at any number of public venues where cyclists congregate and registering them as their own? While it is improbable that such a person could ever claim ownership they could most certainly blackmail the legitimate owner facing having the resale value of their hi-end bike cratered by the specter of theft.
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