My old bike might not have been the best, but I was sad when it was stolen. A Ridgeback Velocity , it wasn’t top of the range, but it did the job. Made from steel, it felt as heavy and as sturdy as cast iron. The bike may not have been shiny or new, but each scratch had been hard won.
As there’s no garage at work, I’d left it chained to the railings in front of the building like usual. By lunch time there was a space where a bike should have been. I reported it to the Met, and received their letter informing me the case was closed by the next post. In some ways it’s comforting to think that my bike got so little attention from the police. Surely it must be better that they spend their time tracking and preventing bigger crimes.
When reporting the crime to the police I was asked if I’d registered the bike with Immobilise. I’d never heard of it, but made a mental note to investigate. Immobilise won’t prevent your bike from being nicked, but it might help the authorities recover it if it is pinched.
Immobilise is a website that enables you to add your stuff to a national property database, CheckMEND , so if it is stolen the police and second-hand trade can identify it more easily. The service claims to be the ‘world’s largest free register of possession ownership details’.
They also offer products to aid in the identification of your property. Top of their Products web page is the ImmobiTag Solid Frame Bike Tag , which is such a fantastic product it has its own website: Immobitag.com . This gadget promisesÂ ‘electronic cycle protection’, which conjures images of a James Bond-like tracking device that follows the movements of your stolen bike on a screen. It turns out it is a tag which you hide in your bike’s frame, and it contains a unique serial number linked to your details which the police can use to re-unite you with your wheels. However, the bike has to be found in order for these details to be read, and there’s no Google Maps plug-in that allows you to follow your stolen bike… just yet.
Bike Register is a similar service and allows you to register your bike on a database that the police can access. There are three levels of service: Bronze is free and allows you simply to register your bike; for Â£14.95, Silver gives you kit to mark your bike in addition to registering it; Gold costs Â£24.95 and gives you a ‘uniquely coded electronic datatag’ – pretty much like the Immobitag.
When using these databases, remember that one of the most important pieces of information to note is your bicycle’s frame number. This can be found underneath the ‘bottom bracket’ – the round bit the pedals stick out from. Other tips to secure your bike include locking both wheels to a lampost or railing, lock it up in the most publicly-exposed place you an find, spend at least 1/10 of the price of your bike on a lock.
But, to really scare off the crooks, there is the lock which sets off a 120 decibel alarm when the wire is cut. If only it also administered an electric shock too.