Here’s a question for you. Have you ever had a bike stolen, or had a friend who had a bike stolen? Probably. And if so, you’ll be familiar with the upset, the frustration, the anger, the feeling of violation, the shock at discovering it’s gone, the disbelief that someone would do that. Even cheap bikes are much-loved, and their loss hurts, and as a source of transport it can be a huge headache for the owner. On twitter, people are always happy to retweet the latest poor triathlete who has had his multi-thousand pound bike stolen the day before the race. And that’s good, we should help those people.
But people are less inclined to look at the other side of it. So here’s another question; have you ever bought a cheap bike online, or at a dodgy market stall, and not asked too many questions about it, or checked its serial number? Or do you know people who have? It’s easy to justify it to ourselves – we need a cheap bike, it’s not our problem where it came from, and we don’t need to ask too many questions. However, I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re a nice person, but if you’ve done this you are part of the problem. You are creating the market for stolen bikes. People who steal bikes are criminals, but they aren’t riding them themselves and they probably aren’t selling them to other criminals, they’re selling them to nice law-abiding people like yourselves. If you buy bikes that you know, deep down, are questionable, or don’t do a bit of due diligence on them, you are creating a market and fuelling what is an epidemic of bike theft.
If you want to avoid that, a few basic steps are all that is needed. BikeIndex, a massive US-based registry of stolen bikes, has produced this guide and it is well worth reading, and applying the lessons from it.