In 2019 I came across someone in the act of stealing a nice eBike from the Buranda Bus Station. This is a good story because I scared the guy away, was able to wait around for the Dutton Park Police, and they were able to reunite the bike with its owner. They also recognised the thief from the video; he’s known to them.
I realised after this incident, and seeing some other behaviour in that area that this was part of an organised group which was stealing bikes, moving them on quickly by jumping on the train with them and/or handing off to someone driving past with a ute.
The major lesson from this: don’t lock an expensive bike for a long period (for example at a station) with a lock that can be cut with a low-cost tool like secateurs. In general, a cable-lock will only take a minute or so to cut through with even a basic tool. U-locks are generally more secure, but they can sometimes limit where you can park if the lock won’t fit around your bike frame plus a thick pole or a tree. Chain locks are more flexible, but a strong one will also be bulky and heavy.
Unfortunately, any secure lock is going to be heavy – there’s really no getting around that.
What might be helpful is to keep a heavy lock at the location you leave your bike for a long time (at home, at work, etc), and carry a lighter one for quicker stops. You can still be unlucky, but most thieves will try to steal your bike when there aren’t people around to interrupt them like I did at Buranda.
A few other suggestions:
- Check what you’re locking your bike to. If you lock it to a fence that can be easily cut, or to a sign that can be lifted out of the ground, your bike could be gone without the thief even having to tackle the lock.
- Lock your bike securely at home. It’s easy for a thief to walk into your yard, and thieves have been known to target “secure” parking garages. Consider storing valuable bikes inside – although body corporates in some buildings strongly discourage this.
- Accessories like lights, pumps and tools can also be a target. Riding home in the dark is going to be difficult if your lights are gone, and discovering your tools or spare tube is missing when you need them is a bummer. Try to take those accessories with you, or choose a bike with integrated lights, or mounts which can’t be easily removed; requiring a screwdriver at the very least.
Take note of the serial number of your bike, and record it with police (https://mypolice.qld.gov.au/southbrisbane/west-end-serial-hub/) or bikevault.com.au.
Even if your bike is not particularly valuable, you can help save police time if they recover it.
Police also suggest installing a small GPS or air-tracker to your bike which can be used to locate it if it is stolen.
Finally, if you’re buying a second-hand bike, ask questions, and check the serial number if possible. A genuine owner shouldn’t be offended, and you can help make bike theft less profitable by making it harder to move on stolen property.
by Belinda Ward, Space 4 Cycling Brisbane