Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crime Tip of the Day: Keep your bikes inside where there are no windows!

Buz took his trusty bike to Joe's Bike Shop in Mt. Washington the other day for a tuneup, new tire, and new odometer. While he was there, we chatted with a gal who mentioned that she was shopping for a new bike, since hers had just gotten stolen at her place in Charles Village.

She related how she kept her bike outside on her deck at her palatial CV property, but it was chained and locked to her deck. And lo and behold she came out to look for it, and it was gone!

The chain was still there, but the suspect(s) literally took her deck apart in order to get at the bike, after climbing over a high fence to get to it.

Well, I'm pretty sure the walls in Charles Village are no match for the athletic burglars who live in and near there. And usually, most walls have handholds and grips where miscreants can boost themselves and climb up the wall. Most of these so-called privacy fences and walls only provide a modest measure of security.
The next point is that bikes are, in the city that drives, a very often-stolen commodity for some reason, particularly around the Hopkins campus. If bikes are seen outside visible anywhere, these strange bike criminals will move heaven and earth to get to them. I know of one case in Roland Park, where several bikes were in a shed, but the shed had a glass casement style window, with very secure locking system. Nevertheless, the crooks came and used tools, made a bit of noise, but literally pried the entire window out of its frame (not even trying to defeat the lock), climbed thru the window and passed the 4 bikes out and vanished. (The shed's door remained locked). It really took a lot of work!

Buz always is amazed at the mechanical skill and virtuosity that these burglars possess. You have to wonder why they never put those skills to use in decent jobs, instead of turning into thieves and ne'er-do-wells.

However, for us poor law-abiding folks: if you don't want your bike to fall into the possession of one of Baltimore's bike-stealing rings: you must keep it inside, and inside means in the house. If you can only put it/them in a shed, the shed MUST NOT have windows, where the bike can be seen. The best bet is to put it into the house and away from windows. I give credit for this tip to the owner of the defunct Horizon Cycles on York Road, Marty, from whom I bought his last Bianchi, before he went out of business. (Marty also said that he did not buy any used bikes, because that simply created a stolen bike market). {Oh, you mean like pawnshops and EBay and Craigslist?}

Oh, and be sure to write the serial number down somewhere, in the unfortunate case where your bike might get stolen. The Baltimore police recover hundreds of bikes (mostly abandoned, but some with suspects and some of victims), and most do not have any reports on file of being stolen.
[by the way, the staff at Joe's were nowhere as nasty and look-down-their-noses-if-you're-not-a-world-class-bike-racer as they used to be, but when they install an odometer for ya, and you ask where the booklet is, you shouldn't get the "don't know, whaddaya need it for, we installed, you can find it on the Internet" look. Just a mild beef.]


RatherBeBiking said...

Great post, I'm going to link you from the MICA Cycling Association website, since some on there could probably benefit from the advice...

see you on the road.

buzoncrime said...

Thank you, Ratherbe---I did want to try out that new bike place on Falls Road near the Street Car Museum, but as I pulled up, the staff was pulling out on a recent Sunday. Alas, they were closing early when the sign said they had a couple of more hours open.

Took the biz to Joe's.

RatherBeBiking said...

Ah, Baltimore Bike Works. Nice set of fine looking people.

They had a bachelor party ride they were technically closed for on a sunday one or two weeks ago, could that have been that ride?

I go to Joes if I'm out on the road, but in the end the people at Baltimore Bike Works can do really solid work on either my race bike or commuter.

buzoncrime said...

HMMMMMM. That could have been the day; they just closed early.
On another subject, Rather, how's the crime around MICA nowadays? I understand they have a new security chief this year.

Historically, it's not been a good area for street crime. One woman I know from the gym, a MICA grad herself, would not let her daughter live off campus, after the freshman year in the dorms.

Anonymous said...

A way to prove ownership of a bike if it's recovered after a robbery or burglary is to have your information on paper stashed inside the handlebars. Numbers stamped into the frame can be filed.

Anonymous said...

If not for a neighbor scaring off the kids, my bike would have been stolen from a second-floor deck. They had climbed onto a first-floor air conditioner, jumped to my deck and pulled themselves up and over the railing.

As you say, Buz, criminals can show ingenuity, athleticism and persistence.

buzoncrime said...

Ah, good idea anonymous. You don't think our Baltimore criminals/bike thieves would go to such an extent as to file off serial numbers, would you?

I'm sure some do.

buzoncrime said...

Second Anonymous--can you tell us what neighborhood you live in?

And, yes, I find myself continually amazed about how persistent, athletic, and determined some street criminals can be.
Many of them commit crimes in ways we would never think of doing.

Remember, we have everything to lose; people into street crime have nothing to lose (except, perhaps, rarely, an arrest, or even more rarely, their life or limb).

I'm glad your bike was saved, my friend. When you use it: One Less Car.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous here: When my bike was nearly stolen from my second-floor deck I was living in Mt. Washington.

Now I live between Hampden and Roland Park, where I walk instead of driving much of the time.

buzoncrime said...

Dear Anonymous---thanks for letting me know. I know that neighbors are often the best crime deterrent--if the area is not a high crime one.

I also live, apparently, close to you, in the neighborhood of Medfield, sort of sandwiched between Hampden and Roland Park. We also chose this area because neither my wife nor I like to drive very much anymore--especially on Interstates, whether they're numbered 83, 95, or 695. Figured we'll live a bit longer if we don't.

Though we live in the city, and used to have an alarm when we lived in Roland Park, we don't have one here. A number of our neighbors are retired, and others work shift work. In addition, our back is under tacit surveillance by any number of other houses looking out over ours. So, our neighbors are our biggest crime deterrent (at least at this time).