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.]