Don’t Skimp on Locks

Note the proximity to the attendant booth.

Note the proximity to the attendant booth.

Particularly if you’re parking your bike at work, you can’t have enough security.  Our office complex is a good example; bike thieves have found our location offers a nice selection of good quality bikes.

Earlier this year they cut the hasps off of two of our bike locker locks.  Fortunately it was overnight and no bikes were in the lockers.  Our landlord upgraded the locks to something quite bombproof.  But they only provide four lockers, and we have more than a dozen people routinely biking to work, so they built a bike cage, located right next to the parking garage attendant’s booth.  Should be nice and secure, right, with an attendant sitting there most of the time?

Well, Friday (day after Thanksgiving) someone’s bike was stolen from the cage during the workday (I don’t know if there was an attendant on hand).  The following Monday the victim of the first theft spotted a suspicious character who indeed turned out to be the thief.  He wrote:

When I left the office today at 5 pm (with my car since I don’t have a bike anymore) taking the Livingston exit, I saw a somewhat suspicious looking guy walking onto the parking garage property. On a closer look I saw a pair of pliers sticking out of the back pocket of his pants. Having a hint at what he might be up to, I circled around the garage to where the bike shed is located. Sure enough, the guy already got to work on one of the bikes parked there and had the lock already cracked open (must be a pro). Walking towards the shed, I was yelling at him asking what the heck he was doing. At the same time I told the parking attendant to call the police (which he didn’t but I ended up doing). Caught in the act, the guy, pushing his newly acquired bike, rushed out of the shed when I stepped in his way. What followed was a brief physical confrontation which I backed out off as soon as he threatened (with one hand in his pocket) to stab me. At that point, I decided to let go. So he sped off the lot and got away. Looking back, I am pretty sure he was bluffing and did not have a knife in his pocket but at time that I wasn’t really eager to find out…

Anyway, I then I called the police who sent an officer. I gave him a pretty good description of the guy and filed a report not only for thievery but also for assault. Also, the police collected the tools and the cracked lock the thief left behind to check them for fingerprints.

Both of these recent thefts involved cable locks, not U-locks or heavy-duty chains.  As someone who lost a bike by getting his cable cut last year, I can’t stress it enough — don’t use one except as supplemental security for your wheels.  Even if you think the location provides surveillance, assume it doesn’t.  Bike thieves can seemingly work with impunity.

Watch this video to see how thoroughly people ignore bicycle theft.

8 replies
  1. Keri
    Keri says:

    What the heck was the attendant doing if he wasn’t calling the police while all this was going on?

    The U-lock is heavy. But if I’m leaving my bike anywhere for more than a few seconds, it’s worth hauling it.

    I’ve seen that video, it’s amazing!

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    I still haven’t sprung for a U-Lock. I was somewhere in the last week (I don’t remember where) that had them for cheap, but I keep resisting.

  3. nickx
    nickx says:

    from what i’ve been hearing, bike theft is on the rise here. it seems like i hear about a bike being stolen once a week.

    and btw. the security guard should be fired!!! not only wasn’t he doing his job, he didn’t even call the cops!

  4. nickx
    nickx says:

    might i suggest… THIS

    or THIS

    of course try to buy them/order them through your LBS first.

    the only thing about u-locks is that your sometimes limited with what you can lock your bike to. and make sure any lock you get is not a barrel key lock.

  5. Keri
    Keri says:

    I carry a heavy cable with my U-lock in case I can’t find something to lock it to… that way I can lock the wheel to the frame and wrap the cable around the… trash can or column or whatever… because there is NO BIKE RACK!

    If someone cut the cable, they’d have to carry a really heavy steel bike away.


    Nick, tell us more barrel key locks?

  6. Mike
    Mike says:

    Barrel key locks can sometimes be compromised easily with a tool. I am not going to disclose the tool because thieves might be reading this, if they can read, or comprehend sentences. Its a very common tool that a thieve could easily acquire. I carry my U-lock everywhere and if I cannot find a place to lock it up I walk a little farther to assure my bike it safely locked up.

  7. nickx
    nickx says:

    thanks for correcting those links….

    yes, like mike said, the barrel key locks can be busted in seconds, its scary!

    kryptonite was offering replacements for free, so if you have one of their locks maybe try contacting them and see if they are still offering that.

    here is a pic of what the barrel locks look like

    i personally use a kryptonite new york chain with an american lock.

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