My 2003 Fuji Silhouette was stolen in mid-October. This is the bike I’d ridden 11,000 miles on. Across North Carolina. From San Jose to Los Angeles. This one:
I had biked to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station around 7:50am. I locked the bike to the bike rack with a cable lock similar to this one. I hopped on the train to San Francisco for work. I returned around 7:20pm and the bike was gone. I’d been doing this for about a month. I had applied to rent a bike locker from Caltrain but I hadn’t received a key yet (they’re slow—it took them a month). I knew u-locks were preferred, but I was hoping my existing cable lock would suffice until I had a bike locker.
I was extremely annoyed. The bike was 11 years old, was in desperate need of a tune-up, and worth maybe only $50, but it is mine. I hate crime and I had criminals. It is not ok to take something that belongs to someone else. I wasted a lot of my time filing a police report, listing the bike as stolen on various web sites, looking for it on craigslist and eBay, researching a new bike, researching bike locks, researching bike lights, assembling a bike, attaching fenders and lights, and generally being angry.
If you’re thinking about buying a second-hand bike, always check the bike’s serial number against online stolen bike databases. These two seem popular: https://bikeindex.org/stolen and http://www.bikeregistry.com/search_bike.php.
You can find the serial number stamped into the metal on the bottom bracket (where the pedals attach). Which brings me to my other point…
Bike manufacturers: Please make sure your serial numbers are easy to read! From what I’ve seen they’re generally a pain in the ass to decipher. Poorly etched. Small. Ambiguous O or 0. It’s doesn’t have to be this way! More clear serial numbers can reduce incorrect transcription and improve bike recovery. I’d be happy if serial numbers were embossed in a huge font across the top tube. Unattractive, you say? Functional, I say. And functional is attractive.