Stop Bicycle Thieves Before They Steal
529 Garage App to Register Your Bike in Missoula
There’s no sugar coating one very unpleasant fact about living in Missoula – we have a serious bicycle theft problem in our city. Bike thieves run the spectrum from meth-addicted opportunists to professionals who are very good at liberating your two-wheeled baby from your possession.
Very few Missoula area residents are without a story of their own (or of someone they know well) about how, when and where their bike was stolen. Bike theft is a very personal kind of crime. More than just a collection of metal, plastic, and rubber that gets you from here to there, your bicycle is often the mechanism to a person’s freedom, fitness and mental health. For some people, whether by choice or by circumstance, their bike is their primary form of transportation. When your bike is stolen, it feels like a very personal violation of your lifestyle – because it’s become essentially a part of you.
Pee Wee Herman – My Bike!
It’s doubly offensive when a bike owner is questioned about why their bike was stolen. Did you lock your bike? Was it visible outside of your house? Did you leave it on your porch? Did you leave it with your car while you stopped somewhere to just run inside for a minute? No one wants their bike stolen, and to imply that the victim of a bike theft is somehow responsible for the crime is horribly misplaced. The blame lies squarely upon the thief. Ideally, no one should ever have to experience that feeling of realizing their bike has been taken by someone who felt they should have it over your needs.
Take Every Precaution
Unfortunately, anyone who recognizes all the parts to this story can relate. You can minimize the likelihood of losing your bike by taking a number of relatively simple precautions:
– Don’t leave your bike unlocked & alone anywhere, even for a short amount of time. When no one is looking is the absolute easiest time for it to disappear. Even among a large crowd of people, your bike can disappear (along with the thief) incredibly easily.
– Lock your bike(s) at all times with a quality lock purchased from a local bike shop. Many great options are available, depending on your own needs. Don’t try to save money at the big box store with the cheapo U-locks sold there. Ditto for using cheap padlocks on a cheap cable. Both are very easily defeated (cut) even by the amateurs. Professional thieves (which clearly are omnipresent around Missoula) are very good at defeating more sophisticated quality locks, chains and cables. Don’t make it easy for the amateurs. And do your best to make it difficult for the pros. Most of the time, they will move along to an easier target. The more expensive and desirable (sellable) your bike is, the more the pros will slow down and take their time to obtain your baby.
– Lock your bike to a dedicated bike rack or an impossible to defeat object. Don’t just lock up your front wheel – the rest of your bike will be gone when you come back. Use more than one lock, and more than one type of lock. A quality U-lock, and a quality cable/chain lock are best. Run the cable through the accessories you least want to lose (like that nice seat you carefully chose). Remove easily removable accessories (computer, lights, etc.) when you will be leaving your bike alone outside for any amount of time.
Related Article Link:
– If you are using geo-location cycling apps like Strava or Map My Ride, do not start and end your session at your house. Your friends are not the only ones following you on these apps when you post your rides. Bike thieves also use them as a virtual smorgasbord menu to find out where the most desirable bikes are located. Don’t make it so easy for them to come to you.
Related article link:
After the Fact
What to do when you come back to where your bike was – and it’s not there?
After the initial shock and anger of what’s happened, get to work on getting it back. Understand that you may never see it again – those are the odds. However, bike thieves don’t acquire bikes because they love bikes. They steal them to resell. Many/most are often parted out and reassembled and sold in a form that would be almost unrecognizable, even to the original owner. Amateurs generally resell them locally for whatever quick bucks they can get. Most professionally stolen bikes wind up hundreds of miles away to be sold in some other big city.
Missoula Stolen Bikes on Facebook
Locally, post up on the Facebook Page “Missoula Stolen Bikes”. Over 1700 people follow this page locally, including cyclists, bike shops, pawn shops and law enforcement. You’ll have the best chance immediately if someone who sees your post spots your bike before it leaves the city limits.
Missoula Stolen Bikes Facebook Page Link:
Bicycles on CraigsList
Keep an eye in the following days and weeks on CraigsList, locally and for nearby communities. Many thieves will try to sell stolen bikes there – watch for listings that just don’t quite smell right. When contacting the person who’s trying to sell a stolen bike, there’ll be strange things that just don’t quite add up. Trust your gut. And if you spot your stolen bike for sale online, contact the local police department first if you know it’s indeed your bike listed. Your bike is not worth you getting into a physical altercation (or worse) with a thief. Their judgement is already questionable, and meeting them yourself in person is a dodgy proposition at best in an effort to retrieve your stolen property.
Missoula CraigsList Bikes for Sale:
529 Garage App w/ Missoula PD
The very best insurance in the hopes of getting your bike back (and the destination of this article) is to register your bike(s) – any and all of them – for FREE on the website / app Project 529. Here’s the “About Us” description from the Project 529 website:
“In 2013, we set out to create a sustainable program that helps reduce bike theft, promote cycling, and make cities and campuses more bike friendly. The result is the 529 Garage.
Over the last 2 decades, bike theft in North America has grown to epidemic proportions – affecting about 2 million riders each year. Beyond the half-billion dollar cycling black market, many stolen bikes are involved in secondary crimes – serving as a modern “getaway vehicle” for criminals.
Our strategy is simple – galvanize riders, shops, police, schools and cities with a common set of tools that allow communities to become better organized than the criminals. Cities that we have joined forces with have seen meaningful, double-digit results in the first two years.
We are a purpose, not profit-driven company, motivated to make a meaningful dent in this epidemic. Join us on our quest by registering your bike and getting your community signed up with our program.”
Fortunately, the Missoula Police Department has embraced the 529 Garage,
with the support of Missoula’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Office, and Missoula in Motion, and is now actively encouraging citizens to register their bike with the city. It’s an easy process – you can easily setup your username/password to login and create your own 529 account, and then digitally upload photo(s), details, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the serial number that is stamped permanently on to your bikes’ frames.
In the event your bike is stolen, you can immediately access your 529 Garage and activate your missing bike as “stolen”, and law enforcement agencies will be able to match your bike back to you if and when it turns up. This puts the ball back in your court, as 529 says, their site to identify and recover your bike provides a common set of tools “to allow communities to become better organized than the criminals.” You can set up and register your bikes in the 529 Garage easily and quickly.
Start today by visiting the City of Missoula Bike Registration Link:
Registering your bike on the 529 Garage with the City of Missoula Police Department is easy.
1. Register your bike.
Quickly capture all the important information about your bike. Keep photos too!
2. Shield your bike.
Tamper-resistant 529 Garage shield stickers (available for pickup at the Missoula PD after you register your bike acts as a deterrent, warning would-be thieves to keep their paws off your bike, and making it easier to find if your bike is recovered.
3. Enlist the community.
If your bike is stolen, set an alert on the 529 Garage site/app to let law enforcement and the 529 security team and other bike owners in the city of Missoula know & be on the lookout.