To catch a thief

16 08 2011

New signs have started appearing on hydro poles and lamp standards along my route towards UBC. They’re paper notices complete with one of those gobbly-gook code boxes that people can point their cellphones at advertising some sort of online lost and found service.

These signs are suddenly everywhere

I’m not sure of their business model, but they did get me thinking about the two bikes I’ve had stolen.

There are few sadder moments than coming out of a library or market to find only the severed cable lock or broken chain with which you’d secured  to a tree or rack your beloved steed.

My first mountain bike was stolen in Oshawa, Ont. while I was in the library. It was the late 1980s, when mountain bikes were still a fairly new phenomenon, and my grey Diamond Back was a little over a year old. When it wasn’t where I was sure I’d left it locked to the rack outside the library, in a busy civic square, I was dumbfounded. It took a few moments to sink in that it had in fact been pilfered. And when it did, I embarked upon a desperate search of the surrounding blocks to see if the thief was still in the area.

Eventually I accepted the reality that my bike was gone and walked home, devastated.

Luckily, I had always been prudent about getting insurance for my things, and replacing the bike turned out to be a pretty painless exercise.

A few years, and two bikes later, my beloved charcoal grey Kona Explosif disappeared while I was shopping on Granville Island. This time there were witnesses who were able to tell me how the thief cut the thick cable lock and rode off. One of them even tried chasing the bike burglar down.

I may have lost a bike at Granville Island once, but I've never lost my appetite there

Their sympathy softened the blow, but it was still a very long walk to the police station to report the theft so I could file an insurance claim.

I also think that may have been the last time I combined riding with shopping. Now, whenever I ride the bike stays with me, always within arms reach. My choice of lunch venues is determined by the availability of an outdoor patio or seating area so I can keep my bike next to me. I don’t even carry a lock, but I still insure the bikes; you can never be too sure.

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