All the time, I get calls from people who have had their bike stolen. They are invariably in some phase of the grieving process, usually either sadness or anger. I always say, “I’m so sorry,” as if they’re bereaved.
The first bike I had stolen was a Trek Antelope 800 with white crackle paint. It was a hideous eyesore of a bike, and I loved it. One day a college roommate asked to borrow it. He was late for class. He locked it to a chain fence outside the liberal arts building and someone came along with wire cutters and a van and removed, probably still locked to itself.
He offered to buy me a new bike, but I declined. Mistakes happen. Bikes get stolen.
Then a month or so later, I borrowed his car and got a $50 ticket for parking partially in a loading zone. I wondered aloud to him if we weren’t then square on monetary terms, but he insisted I pay the ticket. We haven’t spoken much since.
My next bike was another bottom-of-the-line mountain bike turned urban assault vehicle. This one I rattle-canned bright yellow to make it less attractive to thieves, and I managed to keep that one under me for a few years, but eventually it too got stolen. I locked it to a meter down a dark side street and went to play pick up soccer on a rocky field behind an auto-body shop. When I got back, I found just the broken lock.
I thought, “Good luck getting the drug money on that one, asshole.”
That was some time in the ’90s, and I haven’t lost a bike since. Touch wood. Maybe it’s because I’m smarter now. Maybe it’s because I seldom actually lock a bike outside. Maybe it’s because I live in a better neighborhood now. I don’t know, but the pain of having a bike stolen is not something I have forgotten, and I never fail to feel my bile rise when someone tells me about losing a bike to a thief.
This week’s Group Ride asks, have you ever had a bike stolen? How did it happen? Did you get it back? Did the thieves get caught? Were the police helpful? Did insurance cover it? And, what do you tell people about locking up bikes?