Dude! Where's My Bike?!? That was my reaction as I pondered my bike's whereabouts in front of the downtown Omaha public library where I had locked it earlier that morning. Apparently my bike, Old Yeller, had been stolen.
Like Pee-Wee, I was without my favorite bicycle. Over the next week, I inquired about my bike in many local businesses around Omaha and Council Bluffs. Fortunately, my efforts paid off. A tip called in from the flier posted at the downtown Jimmy Johns hit pay dirt. The caller said that he saw Old Yeller being walked into Sol's Pawn shop on 16th and Cass on the day it was stolen. I immediately called Sol's and began the process of recovering Old Yeller.
If you're reading this because you've been the victim of theft, I wish you the best at recovering your property. Hopefully, after using some of the following tips, you too will hear the wonderful news that your bike has been found.
1) Don't panic. You've got a reasonable chance at getting it back even if you only have a basic description of the bike. Most often, a bike is not chopped and sold for parts on eBay, but remains in your area as is. More often, it will end up in a local pawn shop within 90 days. As I researched this story, I found cases where people recovered their bikes years later from garage sales in the exact condition it was in before it was stolen.
2) Act Quickly: file a Police report ASAP. The Police will a basic description including make, model, type and color. Even better, provide the bike's serial number and a picture.
3) File an on-line Bike theft report at Bikewise.
4) Use Social Networking: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, e-bulletin boards, craigslist. Tell everyone you know. Get the word out fast!
5) Create & post fliers on bulletin boards of local businesses in the vicinity of the theft, in local bike shops, pawn and second hand shops.
A cash reward does a lot toward helping motivation. I offered & paid $50 to the person who called in the tip.
6) Hit the Bricks: get out and talk to people over your lunch hour. I handed out dozens of fliers around the library and talked with lots of locals. You may get some good info by word of mouth.
1) Get a good lock to lock your bike well. A braided steel cable offer reasonable protection, but the ULock is your best bet. A rubber-coated kevlar cable is next to worthless: a serrated kitchen knife can easily defeat it in seconds.
2) Record your bike's serial number. DO IT NOW. The serial number is stamped on the frame beneath your crank (on the bottom bracket housing). When my neighbor's bike was stolen two years ago, I followed their advice to write down the serial number. Why do this? Because pawn shops are required by law to file the serial numbers with the Police Pawn Unit before they can sell any merchandise. When you file a police report with your bike's serial number, it's a guaranteed match to recover your property.
3) Have a good picture of your bike for the police report.
Regarding the Police Pawn Unit
- Police Pawn unit shares a database of serial numbers between Nebraska and Iowa.
- Pawn shops typically take two weeks to process new inventory serial numbers with police
- Pawn shops thumb print and ID all sellers of merchandise. Thefts over $500 are felonies.
Again good luck and thanks for reading.