Uniting to beat the thieves

Initiatives to help reduce the number of stolen bikes sold online

by Martin Thomas   July 23, 2010  

Beat the thief logo

Cycling groups, the police, auction websites and security firms have announced a series of measures to defeat bike thieves.

LCC, CTC and a representative of the Met police's new bike squad met Gumtree's Head of Customer Service, Trust and Security, Katie Kitiri, to discuss measures to reduce the incidence of stolen bike sales on the online classified site.

The meeting follows the launch last month of the LCC’s Beat The Thief campaign, through which the LCC proposed five measures to reduce online bike fencing:

  1. Ask sellers to provide frame numbers
  2. Identify who's selling anonymously
  3. Encourage only genuine product photos
  4. Pro-actively report suspect ads to the police
  5. Encourage responsible buy behaviour

LCC's Mike Cavenett said, "We're very pleased Gumtree responded so positively to our proposals. Soon we expect to see more information about the sellers displayed on the ads, and further advice for buyers on what to look for. This is a solid step towards making it easier for buyers to spot suspect sales."

Also trying to make life harder for bike thieves is the Bikeregister.com database, where a new free online registration service is now available – even if your bike has already been stolen.

Bikeregister is a secure, police-approved online database that holds details of more than a quarter of a million bikes. The free self-registration service is offered as the site’s Bronze package and involves the customer entering their bike’s details online and printing their own logbook, which provides proof of ownership.

As long as the frame number of the bike is known, you can register for the Bronze package after a bike has been stolen, so if the police find it they will be able to identify the owner.

The site also offers Silver and Gold packages, which add police-approved bike marking and electronic data tagging for £14.95 and £24.95 respectively.

Another way for Londoners to track down stolen bikes is being offered by the Bikeshd site, which features pictures of all London bikes for sale on Gumtree and eBay - clicking on each photo takes you to the original ad, making it possible to quickly scan both sites for missing bikes.

Beating the thieves is also on the agenda for the owners of Going Going Bike, a new online marketplace for all things bike-related.

Going Going Bike says it’s doing what it can to help stop bike crime. The site uses a Prove It system and encourages users to use BikeRevolution’s bike registration and PulseID tags to help reduce trading in stolen bikes. Sellers earn a Prove It badge by uploading frame numbers, and are encouraged to register bikes on BikeRevolution for free.

Going Going Bike opened for listings last week but trading didn’t begin until midnight on Tuesday this week (20 July). The launch of the site was celebrated at London cycling café Look Mum No Hands, where cyclists were encouraged to lock their bike to two other random bikes to create an unofficial bicycle daisy chain world record.

In all 55 cyclists locked their bikes in the chain before joining the other hundred or so Going Going Bike early adopters to toast the site’s launch.

As well as the auction sections for buying and selling bikes and bike-related paraphernalia, the site also offers a a bike match search for a quick solution or specialist search for that dream bike. It will also soon feature free events listings, a blog, a Bike Love section for photos of sexy bikes, and the Bikepedia, where you can figure out what bike jargon means – or help others to do so.