Cycling Community Warns About Bike Thefts

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Experts say bike locks are not something to skimp on. Really what a bike lock is, they say, is a deterrent. Determined professional bike thieves can beat any lock, especially if they have the know how and the tools to do it. A bolt cutter can get through a cable lock, for example. But the more heavy-duty the lock, the harder it is to beat, and the more time it will take. To beat some of the strongest locks on the market, thieves are going to make a lot of noise and cause a scene, but they will still be able to do it. That’s why even the folks who sell some of the most impressive bike locks around say the best defense is to take the bike inside.

“Working in a bike shop, as a bike mechanic, I can tear down any bike, within like about eight minutes to nothing,” said Scott Sjobakken, of Ichi Bike. “And, so can any professional bike thief. That`s why you don`t leave your bike outside at night.”

“Most of my bikes, I don`t even carry a lock on,” said Sjobakken. “It’s like if I can`t go in and buy a Pepsi or grab a snack or whatever, or whatever I`m stopping for, and not bring my bike in, I just go to a different place.”

A few years ago Steve Fuller created a Facebook page called Stolen Bikes Iowa, after a couple of his friends had their bicycles stolen. That Facebook page now has close to 1300 members.

“We`ve had some successful reunification of bikes with owners through the page this year,” said Fuller.

One of those reunifications happened this week. A member of the page had her bike stolen at a local bar. It was posted to the page, somebody then spotted the bike downtown and started chasing after the person on the bike and asking them about it.

“Turns out that person either stole it or had bought the stolen bike,” said Fuller. “They dropped the bike, took off and left a backpack and some other personal effects with the bike. It turns out the backpack had a set of fairly heavy-duty bolt cutters in it. So, it looks like that person may have been one of the people responsible for some of the thefts in the area.”

The Des Moines Police Department says the numbers show that reports of bike thefts are actually down, but that might be because people don’t always call the police when their bike is stolen.

“That doesn`t help us when it comes to trying to address the problem of bike theft,” said Sergeant Paul Parizek, Public Information Officer. “We need to have a little bit of leverage, so that people understand that there`s consequences.”


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