today's market report:

According to the JWZ Bicycle Index, one of today's leading market indicators, bicycles are trading briskly, up 1.0 points from just five months ago.

Our score so far:

    Sep 2006:   stolen from outside Metreon, 4pm
    May 2006:   front wheel stolen from outside Metreon, 1am
    Feb 2006:   stolen from a quiet side street in The Mission, late at night (cut through the rear wheel!)
    Sep 2004:   stolen from outside Metreon, 7pm
    Jul 2002:   handlebars stolen from outside netik's place, 4am
    Jun 2002:   stolen from DNA Lounge back room
    Nov 2000:   stolen from outside the Market @ 3rd BART entrance, 5pm
    1991-ish:   somewhere in Berkeley

If I'm eyeballing this graph right, I think the asymptote is somewhere in early 2008: at that point, I'll be buying a new bicycle daily.

Tags: , , , ,

54 Responses:

  1. mandil says:

    I'm thinking you might want to stick to very cheap bikes in the future.

  2. allartburns says:

    I'm thinking you should just learn how to steal bicycles.

  3. inoshiro says:

    What's the Metreon, and why is it so popular with thieves?

    Even with the thefts, it's still a lot cheaper than driving a car (although where I live, I have the luxury of having the same bike since I bought it in 2003, despite the city taking a blow torch to my NYC Kryptonite lock once).

    • netik says:

      Never mind that, how did they steal his bike in an area full of people!??!?!

      jwz, how was this bike locked? I feel for you - you know I lost my bike recently, and it sucks.

    • jwz says:

      It's a small mall, with a movie theatre, down the street from where I live. There's a nice park nearby, where I often eat lunch. Thus the high frequency of thefts there.

  4. It's gotta be an item on some geek scavenger hunt list, right after Steve Jobs' license plate.

    • netik says:

      Steve jobs doesn't put license plates on his car because it interrupts the aesthetics of the vehicle.

      This is something the Cupertino police gave up on years ago, adn I know because I worked there. ugh.

  5. bifrosty2k says:

    I was at a bike store right then too.

  6. arch_nme says:

    Do you have pictures of your bikes? I may need some inspirations and write some death metal lyrics about your stolen bikes.

  7. brad says:

    My count's about the same. :-/

    I want a bike that just blows up when its moved more than 20 feet or so from where its lock was activated. I don't mind losing the bike... that's a short term problem. I just want to destroy the thieves. Eventually bikes would stop being stolen. Either we'd kill all the bike thieves, or people would think twice about stealing the bikes.

    • dan_lane says:

      Why blow up the bike? if it strays from the place it was locked simply electrify the frame.

      Of course, leave a small delay, so the thief has enough time to actually get on the bike and is riding it when it becomes live.

      For additional amusement, a fast deploying pneumatic seat-spike is an optional extra.

    • pjammer says:

      Reminds me of this story on craigslist. Ignoring the horrible formatting, the writing is actually lively and a depressing reminder for those of us who've been ripped off by bike thieves.

      My first lesson in urban bike defense came years ago when someone stole my rear tire. OK, not a surprise, it happens all the time, right? But not in front of the friggin' DC COURTHOUSE!!!! There are cops walking and driving by all the time! What idiot steals a bike tire right after getting out of lockup? You almost have to admire someone who's in the very heart of the forces of public order, and still feels the need to fuck with someone else's shit. "

  8. edm says:

    If the trend indicated in the previous data is to be believed, then (a) you should be safe for the rest of this year (maximum thefts per year seems to be 2, and it seems to drop back after that), and (b) you should be safe next year, as there have been no documented thefts in odd numbered years (discarding poorly documented 1991 outlier). 2008 could be bad though, but at least you'd have 2009 to look forward to. Confidence interval for these predictions is +/- 100%; more research required.

    The other obvious indication in the data is that Metreon is a bad place for bicycles in September, particularly in the late afternoon or early evening. Confidence interval for this prediction is also near +/- 100%; more research required.

    Your contribution to advancing scientific (and financial) knowledge is appreciated!


    • transgress says:

      I agree that 2007 should be fine, if the pattern continues then he will be fine until at least early 2008, more likely that it will be either summer or early fall of 2008. I'm basing this not off of the fact that he's never had one stolen on an odd numbered year, but that in any year he's had two bikes stolen it is 1-2 years before another is stolen.

      This of course is not very conclusive given the short time line. The common denominator of course is jwz, san francisco and bicycles- most obvious solution is to eliminate all three.

  9. On the other hand, what's the smallest tube a lojack could be installed in? You could have an amusing web 2.0 app "where is jamie's stolen bike now".

    Maybe take the seat with you, or alter the seat with a hidden spike on pyrotechnic charge, to make it more difficult to pedal away?

  10. skreidle says:

    Handlebars aside, how do you lock the bikes up?

    • jwz says:

      U-lock through the frame and back wheel, attaching it to a pole or (in this case) thick iron fence. Quick-releases on front wheel and seat replaced with bolts, bent shut. So, somehow they opened the u-lock, and took it with them. (It was old; it may have been the "bic pen" variety, but I tried that once and I couldn't do it.)

      • skreidle says:

        Well, hell. Not much more you can do save for more expensive locks.

        Kryptonite was replacing Bicable pens for free, but I never got around to replacing my two. Wonder if they're still doing it?

      • cryptomail says:

        Crank makes "people" good at these things.
        Quit using the U-Locks and do chain.
        Sorry if I'm mastering the obvious.

      • netik says:

        Was it a kryptonite?

      • simmonmt says:

        Maybe try one of Kryptonite's New York locks? The chain ones are enormous, but you can always just wrap it around the top tube (or whatever it's called) of the bike. The delivery guys around here swear by them.

        Worst case, they'll cut your bike out from under the lock, but you'll get to keep the lock.


      • Hm, that's interesting. I've seen a lot of bikes missing wheels (especially quick release ones). For instance, in my building's bike rack there are two bikes right now: one without a front wheel (mine) and one without the back one. But I am yet to see a bike without a seat. Wouldn't it make sense to steal a seat while you are stealing the wheel?

        By the way, what do cheap replacement mountain bike wheels typically cost?

        • elliterati says:

          I've had my seat (and ONLY my seat) stolen - the four-mile ride home was entertaining.

          I've also once had someone loosen every bolt on the bike, but not actually take anything. The bike fell to pieces right after I unlocked it. That was just mean.

      • sunsetdriver says:

        A friend of mine's daughter in Dublin decided not to follow her dad's advice and only used one lock. When she came out from work she learned why he recommends two locks.

        That said, you can always bring your bike with you:

  11. hadlock says:

    I never understood the function in stealing bicycles; is it really worth it to part it out on ebay? Or do they simply just ride them, or is there some sort of underground black market for whole stolen bicycles?

    • dr_memory says:

      Remember that single doses of both crack and heroin can be had for under $10.

      From a junkie perspective, bike theft is just about ideal: if it's a cheap bike, you've just earned between 1 and 3 hits. If it's a pricey bike and you manage to part it out: score, you're set for the week. If it's so crap you can't sell it as a bike, you might get at least a little money for it as scrap metal, and in the worst case scenario... it's still a bike, so you can use it to avoid paying bus fare, therefore setting aside more money for sweet, sweet heroin.

      Plus, the police just don't give a shit about bike theft, so it's very low risk.

      • pdx6 says:

        s/about bike theft//;

        The SFPD are useless. If a tourist had a bike stolen, then there might be a case.

  12. lovingboth says:

    How practical is a folding bike for you?

  13. theorb says:

    Make your own lojack with a GPS and a cell phone. If the bike moves without the thingy being properly disabled, or somebody tries to improperly disable it, SMS another number with the current coords. You can probably fit the entire thing under the seat. For bonus points, get a hackable phone with built-in GPS, and it can be single-component.

    • line_noise says:

      Great! So not only does the thief get your bike but they also get your GPS enabled phone (which is probably worth more than the bike) as well!

      Buy one of those electric shock games, extract the shock circuit and install it in the handlebars or seat. Hook it up to a battery under the seat or headlight dynamo thingy attached to your wheel. Hopefully it will give the bastard such a fright he'll fall off the bike into the path of an oncoming truck.

      Why hasn't someone invented some sort of immobiliser for bikes? Surely it wouldn't be too hard to lock the wheel hubs somehow. I can't imagine a crackhead opting to carry the bike to his favourite pawn shop.

  14. shabbydoo says:

    I don't know much about what motivates bike thieves, but I presume they all want to turn your bicycle into cash. If you made your bike astetically displeasing (splatter paint on frame, etc.), would this deter theives? I presume used bike/bike parts buyers want things to look new-ish. And, if so, would the thieves smart enough to pass on your bike for another, better looking one?

  15. pdx6 says:

    One of the bike theives with a van hangs out near Best Buy, I last saw them on Division. I always see this old panel van covered in bikes and bike parts, so it clearly isn't up to anything legal. Probably no help since the SFPD won't do anything, but a crow bar and a group of friends could fix them up.

  16. roninspoon says:

    Wait. Someone stole your bike from a back room in your own club? That's pretty fucked up.

  17. icis_machine says:

    i'm sure someone's gotta be thinking bike valet at the metreon. couple of bucks to park and have it there when you leave might be worth it.

  18. what factors are behind the nine-year bear market in bicycle trading.

  19. mpdwibble says:

    You should figure out at what point it becomes more economical to just pay for a couple of lackeys to carry you around in a sedan chair.

    Or a bikeguard to follow you everywhere and deter theft while you are absent.

    • jwz says:

      I think $20/month to own a bike is fairly economical, actually. Irritating though the theft is.

      • mpdwibble says:

        Ah, but to keep to $20/month as you approach the bike/day asymptote, you'd have to buy cheaper and cheaper bikes until you end up making your own out of cardboard and rubber cement.

        And still, when it rains...