Two devious bike theft tricks you should be aware of

Two devious bike theft tricks you should be aware of

bike theft

Bike thieves are a clever bunch.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The world of bike theft continues to both fascinate and deplore us. It seems like just as innovation and technology promises better bike theft prevention and recovery tools, thieves are becoming more brazen, devious, and numerous.

In our ongoing quest to arm you with as much knowledge about bike theft as possible, we wanted to share the experiences of two readers. Both of these bike theft tactics where new to me, so I figured they were worth passing along.

The first is from a reader named Chris:

I used to have a roommate that was a complete moron and “accidentally” stole a bike:

He was in Eugene, OR and some guy on the sidewalk asked, as he was walking by, if he wanted to buy this Gary Fisher MTB for $40. He gave the guy $40, and the guy was gone before he realized that the bike was still locked to a bike rack. So, he went home to get some bolt cutters and returned to remove the lock and take his new bike home. It wasn’t until he got home that he had to be told by friends and family that he was swindled and just stole someones bike… I didn’t know him when he did this, but he still held onto a lot of guilt from this experience… doesn’t make him any less of an idiot, though.

Crazy story! I guess the moral is, if some random dude asks you to buy a bike for cheap, just keep on walking.

And another reader shared this experience with us today:

Hey Bike Portland,

I had an interesting thing happen last night on the corner of NE Flanders and 28th…I locked my bike up at the Foursquare Church for a few hours using two u-locks and a cable, as I always do if I will be away from it for more than a few minutes. When I returned I found that someone had run another rather hefty cable lock through my front tire. I was unsure how to proceed but ended up calling non-emergency dispatch. The officer was pleasant, had me prove it was my bike, but told me there was nothing he could do. To be fair I guess I don’t know what I expected him to do anyway. Luckily I had older pictures of me and the bike and gave all my personal info to him.

The problem with the situation was that I don’t generally carry bolt cutters with me (!!!) and my special lady friend had to taxi from upper NE with the tool so I could cut it free. Cost about 30 bucks for round trip and it was 2 in the AM. While it was a pain in the ass I’m grateful I was able to free my ride.

I though two things; someone was just being a dick or this was this some monkey wrench tactic foreshadowing a later theft attempt? I’m guessing they hoped I would not be able to free it that night and they planned on returning to cut my u-locks somehow?

Anyway, it was super frustrating and certainly freaked me out for a minute.

Apparently (according to our friends on Twitter), this is a relatively common tactic. A similar one is to deflate your tires, hoping you’ll walk home and leave your bike overnight. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to prevent this type of thing from happening. Anyone have any advice or insights?

Stay tuned for (unfortunately) more bike theft coverage.

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