Network for Stolen Bikes

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Bretcahill, Oct 26, 2003.

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  1. Bretcahill

    Bretcahill Guest

    I once saw a network for stolen bikes -- make, serial numbers, etc.. Only six people had posted.

    I'm guessing it's hard to get pawn shops and stolen bike owners to report serial numbers, assuming
    the frame wasn't stripped for parts and abandoned. Everyone knows this and doesn't bother.

    Bret Cahill

    "Not only are Model T parts interchangeable, they are unidentifiable."

    -- John Steinbeck _Tortilla Flat_
     
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  2. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On 26 Oct 2003 17:20:18 GMT, [email protected] (BretCahill) may have said:

    >I once saw a network for stolen bikes -- make, serial numbers, etc.. Only six people had posted.
    >
    >I'm guessing it's hard to get pawn shops and stolen bike owners to report serial numbers, assuming
    >the frame wasn't stripped for parts and abandoned. Everyone knows this and doesn't bother.

    Many mass-produced bikes have no serial number stamped into the frame. There apparently is no
    requirement that one be present, from what I understand. The lack of a stamped S/N may also extend
    to some of the pricier units, but since those aren't in my budget, I haven't really paid any
    attention.

    --
    My email address is antispammed; pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail. Yes, I have a killfile. If I
    don't respond to something, it's also possible that I'm busy.
     
  3. On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 18:36:51 GMT, Werehatrack <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Many mass-produced bikes have no serial number stamped into the frame. There apparently is no
    >requirement that one be present, from what I understand. The lack of a stamped S/N may also extend
    >to some of the pricier units, but since those aren't in my budget, I haven't really paid any
    >attention.

    I have never seen a bike in our bike shop without a serial number, from a $119 kid's Raleigh to the
    most expensive, fully decked out Calfee. I have seen them ground off on occasion.

    In fact, when we sell or service a bike, the s/n is part of the record.

    Barry
     
  4. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 22:39:09 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .
    <[email protected]> may have said:

    >I have never seen a bike in our bike shop without a serial number, from a $119 kid's Raleigh to the
    >most expensive, fully decked out Calfee. I have seen them ground off on occasion.
    >
    >In fact, when we sell or service a bike, the s/n is part of the record.

    One of the guys down at Houston's property disposal unit told me that on the order of a sixth of
    the bikes they see have no serial number, not on account if it's having been removed but because it
    was never there, and they suspect that some of the numbers they find are actually date codes
    because they're awfully short. A lot of the bikes that come through their facility are Wal-mart
    quality units.

    I've got at least two such on the back patio. I haven't looked at all of them since there's little
    point in trying to track the data for the majority of the junk I ride.

    --
    My email address is antispammed; pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail. Yes, I have a killfile. If I
    don't respond to something, it's also possible that I'm busy.
     
  5. Carl Fogel

    Carl Fogel Guest

    Werehatrack <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 22:39:09 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .
    > <[email protected]> may have said:
    >
    > >I have never seen a bike in our bike shop without a serial number, from a $119 kid's Raleigh to
    > >the most expensive, fully decked out Calfee. I have seen them ground off on occasion.
    > >
    > >In fact, when we sell or service a bike, the s/n is part of the record.
    >
    > One of the guys down at Houston's property disposal unit told me that on the order of a sixth of
    > the bikes they see have no serial number, not on account if it's having been removed but because
    > it was never there, and they suspect that some of the numbers they find are actually date codes
    > because they're awfully short. A lot of the bikes that come through their facility are Wal-mart
    > quality units.
    >
    > I've got at least two such on the back patio. I haven't looked at all of them since there's little
    > point in trying to track the data for the majority of the junk I ride.

    Dear Werehatrack,

    Sometimes the serial number doesn't even do much good.

    As everyone knows who's watched television, when thieves grind off the serial numbers on metal
    parts, the forensic geniuses promptly recover the numbers with an acid treatment--the metal
    compressed under the original serial number stamp resists the acid and emerges to convict the
    evil-doers.

    Unfortunately, most police departments are swamped, so they don't put your stolen item to the head
    of the line unless it's involved in a homicide, so it probably winds up being sold at the yearly
    auction of recovered stuff.

    Even worse, the serial number recovery trick works best on small, easily manipulated items like
    firearms, not on bikes--whose frames may not take kindly to local acid baths.

    Worst of all, as I learned the hard way, many thieves who take the trouble to grind off a serial
    number on a bicycle, motorcycle, or car will then stamp their own meaningless serial numbers over
    the originals. The resulting welter of compressed metal defeats the acid bath--the police won't even
    bother to try to raise the serial numbers.

    On the other hand, a piece of paper with your name and address slipped inside the handlebars can be
    fished out with a coat hanger and will convince even the most hardened property room clerk that the
    battered machine is really yours.

    Six months after I learned this the hard way on a Honda trials motorcycle, a pair of cheerful
    fellows with the first cordless drill that I'd ever seen knocked on my door and used it to drill two
    holes in my down-tube to rivet a newly issued serial number plate on my poor bike's frame before I
    realized what they were doing. I still look down at the ground-off place on my engine case where the
    fake numbers are still proudly displayed.

    Carl Fogel
     
  6. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > On Sun, 26 Oct 2003 22:39:09 GMT, B a r r y B u r k e J r .
    > <[email protected]> may have said:
    >
    >>I have never seen a bike in our bike shop without a serial number, from a $119 kid's Raleigh to
    >>the most expensive, fully decked out Calfee. I have seen them ground off on occasion. In fact,
    >>when we sell or service a bike, the s/n is part of the record.

    Werehatrack wrote:
    > One of the guys down at Houston's property disposal unit told me that on the order of a sixth of
    > the bikes they see have no serial number, not on account if it's having been removed but because
    > it was never there, and they suspect that some of the numbers they find are actually date codes
    > because they're awfully short. A lot of the bikes that come through their facility are Wal-mart
    > quality units.
    >
    > I've got at least two such on the back patio. I haven't looked at all of them since there's little
    > point in trying to track the data for the majority of the junk I ride.

    Our experience is that a mass-produced bike will usually have a number. It just may be in a
    different place than where you're looking. Try left side frame end, last section of seat tube or
    down tube, bottom of head tube or aside/behind seat juncture for example.

    Some small shops still ship numberless frames (Deberbardi stamps about 50%). Our unicycle vendor
    stopped stamping them a few years ago. Attentive (anal?) shops stamp frames before sale*.

    You mention police procedure. Try doing an police data inquiry for the Huffy Savannah product
    number. You'll get dozens of stolen bike reports because the owners listed that as a serial number.
    1996~2002 Raleighs had two and sometimes three number sequences stamped on the BB and the lower down
    tube (the one which began with an "R" was the unique frame number) This year they got around to
    making them with just one number. There is no standardization at all in this sort of thing.

    *At my first bike shop job, John Clavin and I stamped the same number in about a hundred bikes
    before getting caught.
    --
    Andrew Muzi www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April, 1971
     
  7. Carl Fogel

    Carl Fogel Guest

    A Muzi <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    [snip other serial number stuff]

    > Our unicycle vendor stopped stamping them a few years ago.

    [snip]

    Dear Andrew,

    I feel soiled just by asking, but I can't help myself because the thread seems to be about serial
    numbers and the recovery of stolen property.

    Does that single sinister line in your post imply that some of your customers have had their
    unicycles stolen?

    Or should I read it as meaning that no one steals unicycles, so serial numbers are pointless?

    Anxiously,

    Carl Fogel
     
  8. Carl Fogel <[email protected]> wrote:
    : Or should I read it as meaning that no one steals unicycles, so serial numbers are pointless?

    if they stole it they'd have to ride it. it's the same reason i've never heard of a bike being
    stolen in minneapolis during winter.
    --
    david reuteler [email protected]
     
  9. Simon Brooke

    Simon Brooke Guest

    [email protected] (Carl Fogel) writes:

    > On the other hand, a piece of paper with your name and address slipped inside the handlebars can
    > be fished out with a coat hanger and will convince even the most hardened property room clerk that
    > the battered machine is really yours.

    The police here sponsor a scheme under which you can have your post-code (similar in function to the
    US zip code) stamped on your bike. This means that if they find a bike in suspicious circumstances
    they have only a few houses to check (typically about six) to find the owner.

    Also, what do people think about the idea of sticking an RFID tag down your seat tube? Much harder
    even for professional thieves to find and remove, at least without destroying the bike.

    --
    [email protected] (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/

    do not sail on uphill water
    - Bill Lee
     
  10. On Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:35:02 GMT, Simon Brooke <[email protected]> wrote:

    >The police here sponsor a scheme under which you can have your post-code (similar in function to
    >the US zip code) stamped on your bike. This means that if they find a bike in suspicious
    >circumstances they have only a few houses to check (typically about six) to find the owner.

    Around here, they grind in "postcode house number", which is a unique address. Mail addressed to
    that code will usually arrive, even.

    Jasper
     
  11. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    "Simon Brooke" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > [email protected] (Carl Fogel) writes:
    >
    > > On the other hand, a piece of paper with your name and address slipped inside the handlebars can
    > > be fished out with a coat hanger and will convince even the most hardened property room clerk
    > > that the battered machine is really yours.
    >
    > The police here sponsor a scheme under which you can have your post-code (similar in function to
    > the US zip code) stamped on your bike. This means that if they find a bike in suspicious
    > circumstances they have only a few houses to check (typically about six) to find the owner.
    >
    > Also, what do people think about the idea of sticking an RFID tag down your seat tube? Much harder
    > even for professional thieves to find and remove, at least without destroying the bike.

    I put some ID inside my seatpost, and also in/on the steerer tube. I write it on the steerer with
    indelible ink, or put it on a piece of waterproof paper and stick it in there. I don't know how this
    would fare with professional thieves, but it could be handy if someone is stopped while pedaling my
    bike around the neighborhood.

    RFID tags might be a good idea, especially in conjunction with some kind of registration program.

    However, the real problem is that police just don't have time to go chasing after stolen bikes. I
    think most police depts. only take stolen bike reports as a courtesy.

    Matt O.
     
  12. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On 27 Oct 2003 07:09:30 GMT, David Reuteler <[email protected]> may have said:

    >Carl Fogel <[email protected]> wrote:
    >: Or should I read it as meaning that no one steals unicycles, so serial numbers are pointless?
    >
    >if they stole it they'd have to ride it. it's the same reason i've never heard of a bike being
    >stolen in minneapolis during winter.

    I've heard of a bike with no rear wheel being stolen, and it was seen being carried away. (The owner
    was sure that he could thwart theft by carrying the rear wheel up to his room and just locking the
    front to the frame.) Your're doutless correct that thieves probably avoid bikes in Minneapolis in
    January bcause they're more trouble to lug off than they're worth. A unicycle probably would get
    ignored for that reason anytime.

    --
    My email address is antispammed; pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail. Yes, I have a killfile. If I
    don't respond to something, it's also possible that I'm busy.
     
  13. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On Mon, 27 Oct 2003 15:06:16 GMT, "Matt O'Toole" <[email protected]> may have said:

    >However, the real problem is that police just don't have time to go chasing after stolen bikes. I
    >think most police depts. only take stolen bike reports as a courtesy.

    Partly true; without a report, you can't file a claim with your insurance company (if it's even
    worthwhile), and in the US it's not possible to claim a casualty loss deduction on your income tax
    without one, either. On the other hand, some police departments do check for serials and will
    consult their files when a perp is apprehended in the act of doing something else while in
    possession of a bike. Sometimes it scores a hit, and they delight in being able to add possession of
    stolen goods to the charges.

    I'll have to see if the guy I used to know in the pawn shop business has anything to add to
    this topic.

    --
    My email address is antispammed; pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail. Yes, I have a killfile. If I
    don't respond to something, it's also possible that I'm busy.
     
  14. Q.

    Q. Guest

    <snip>
    > However, the real problem is that police just don't have time to go
    chasing
    > after stolen bikes. I think most police depts. only take stolen bike
    reports as
    > a courtesy.

    That's BULL! If police have time to give out tons of speeding tickets every day, they have time for
    this. Hell, there is a local cop in my town that is having an affair with the married woman next
    door while on duty. Overworked my @$$.

    Sorry, fat, lazy donut munching cops have been using that "overworked" excuse for years, and it's
    just not true. It's dangerous to go after bad guys ... you might get hurt.

    I used to have a computer chip under my dogs skin, and if he ran away it would tell the shelter
    where he lived. It would be no problem to do one of these inside a bike.

    If you want to get bikes found more often, just give out a reward for it, perhaps something in
    conjunction with the computer chip company. It's all a money scam anyway, and that's the only way to
    get cops out of the donut shop.
     
  15. Flatline

    Flatline Guest

    An RFID tag cannot be picked up through metallic frames due to the shielding effect. It may be
    practical in carbon fiber tubes though. My company manufactures hardware and antennas for those
    RFID-sensing gas pumps and I verified this with an engineer. Or maybe attaching the tag on the
    external surface can do the job, if it can be disguised and made small enough. Perhaps hidden under
    a non-metallic saddle, assuming the saddle stays with a stolen bike.

    r.b.

    Simon Brooke <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >
    > Also, what do people think about the idea of sticking an RFID tag down your seat tube? Much harder
    > even for professional thieves to find and remove, at least without destroying the bike.
     
  16. Werehatrack

    Werehatrack Guest

    On 27 Oct 2003 11:06:27 -0800, [email protected] (flatline) may have said:

    >An RFID tag cannot be picked up through metallic frames due to the shielding effect. It may be
    >practical in carbon fiber tubes though. My company manufactures hardware and antennas for those
    >RFID-sensing gas pumps and I verified this with an engineer. Or maybe attaching the tag on the
    >external surface can do the job, if it can be disguised and made small enough. Perhaps hidden under
    >a non-metallic saddle, assuming the saddle stays with a stolen bike.

    All correct. Under the grip would be the logical place in my opinion, as that's seldom going to be
    removed as a matter of course by a thief.

    All of this requires that every police department have the required equipment to read the tag, and
    that it be used on every piece of potentially tagged gear coming in to their property division. The
    former is a matter of money, in nontrivial amounts, which must be balanced against the probability
    of its being effective as a deterrent, recovery aid, or enforcement enhancement method before funds
    will get allocated. Given that there are probably 80 million bikes in at least occasional use in the
    US, and that getting the owners of them to bring them to a facility to get them tagged is a
    nontrivial effort in terms of advertising and manpower, I think you've got a very hard item to sell
    there. Yes, it could work, but I seriously doubt that it has any chance of getting the support of
    the people who really decide what the cops will focus their efforts on. Bike theft just isn't a hot
    topic. Perhaps, if the idiotic and useless "war on drugs" were abandoned in favor of taxation and
    regulation, police resources might get reallocated to things that would really make a difference to
    the average person, like assault and property theft...including bike theft.

    --
    My email address is antispammed; pull WEEDS if replying via e-mail. Yes, I have a killfile. If I
    don't respond to something, it's also possible that I'm busy.
     
  17. Bill

    Bill Guest

    In some states...INDIANA FOR SURE...it is illegal to possess anything of value that once had a
    serial number and now does not. Yes, that means if you own something and file off the serial number,
    it is still technically illegal to possess it. This law was made to stop those who burglarized
    homes, stole electronics then filed off Serial numbers. This way, the devices are illegal to have
    either way. The same would go for a bicycle.

    Useless trivia courtesy of Bill in Lafayette IN.

    --
    Some mornings it's just not worth chewing through the restraints...
     
  18. A Muzi

    A Muzi Guest

    > A Muzi <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>... [snip
    > other serial number stuff]
    >>Our unicycle vendor stopped stamping them a few years ago.

    Carl Fogel wrote:

    > I feel soiled just by asking, but I can't help myself because the thread seems to be about serial
    > numbers and the recovery of stolen property.
    >
    > Does that single sinister line in your post imply that some of your customers have had their
    > unicycles stolen?
    >
    > Or should I read it as meaning that no one steals unicycles, so serial numbers are pointless?

    Although I do not know of any stolen unicycle, we track them in the store with the same form and
    software as a bicycle. Therefore since it has a new vehicle ID form, we stamp a number on it. That
    allows me to fill in a blank on a form. Nothing more.

    (I am amazed that some riders voluntarily ask to pay the licensing fees for a unicycle. There is no
    mention of them on the city's sticker or forms. They would seem to me to be exempt from the
    ordinance, being not a "bicycle")

    Actually I haven't been as far as you in the analysis. Never thought about it.

    --
    Andrew Muzi www.yellowjersey.org Open every day since 1 April, 1971
     
  19. Carl Fogel

    Carl Fogel Guest

    Werehatrack <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > On 27 Oct 2003 11:06:27 -0800, [email protected] (flatline) may have said:
    >
    > >An RFID tag cannot be picked up through metallic frames due to the shielding effect. It may be
    > >practical in carbon fiber tubes though. My company manufactures hardware and antennas for those
    > >RFID-sensing gas pumps and I verified this with an engineer. Or maybe attaching the tag on the
    > >external surface can do the job, if it can be disguised and made small enough. Perhaps hidden
    > >under a non-metallic saddle, assuming the saddle stays with a stolen bike.

    [snip]

    Dear Werehatrack,

    I'm sticking my oar in here since it's the last post that I can see (so far) about the RFID that
    you're all discussing with apparent ease and understanding, despite some learned disagreements.

    I could google myself silly, but I'm hoping that someone in the thread will take pity on the
    ignorant and provide a summary of these mysterious devices and the sensors that they tickle.

    Carl Fogel
     
  20. On Mon, 27 Oct 2003 22:40:26 GMT, "Bill" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >In some states...INDIANA FOR SURE...it is illegal to possess anything of value that once had a
    >serial number and now does not. Yes, that means if you own something and file off the serial
    >number, it is still technically illegal to possess it. This law was made to stop those who
    >burglarized homes, stole electronics then filed off Serial numbers. This way, the devices are
    >illegal to have either way. The same would go for a bicycle.

    So if the sticker (it's usually a sticker, often a paper one) with the serial number falls off the
    back of your tv after twenty years of dry heat, you're suddenly committing a misdemeanor? Felony? by
    even having it in your house?

    Jasper
     
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