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How to Steal a Bike

I just got finished talking with a exbicycle messenger from NYCity. A quote from him : “In order to know how to protect your bicycle in New York, you have to know How to Steal a Bike.” Since most of us are not willing to do this, I’ll share what he had to say with you.

He said that if you know How to Steal a Bike you will be acquainted with a variety of ways to hack Kryptonite/U-type locks. Standard procedure, as it turns out, is to approach the bicycle and see if the person has locked the bike correctly. Apparently, cylindrical locks have to positions that the key can be removed from, the locked position and the unlocked position. Some people fail to lock their lock properly. Then, cut off the plastic around the locking mechanism. If there may or may not be a pin the holds the lock in place. If there is a pin, tap it out.

The lock should fall out or can be unscrewed at this point. if there is no pin, use a pipe cutter to cut thru the hollow portion of the lock. This is available in hardware stores (really poor description of a pipe cutter follows : it’s a right angle brace with a slot in it where the cutter sits and a screw/vice type mechanism is at the other end).

If none of this works (pipe cutter won’t work for a solid bar between end portions of the “U”) then a large diameter, long pipe can be used to force the lock. This makes a huge, loud bang. Freon tricks work, but usually take about a minute or two ard require blunt smashing insturment. Liquid nitrogen tricks work fast, but it’s dangerous if you use the stuff incorrectly. If you have some time, a few locks are open on the other side of the part that holds the lock. This can be split with a chisle.

Most messengers in NY use a shielded cable lock called “The Cobra.” It’s mondo expensive, heavy, and there’s no warranty with it. The messengers that have U-type locks have a tee pipe sections, available at hardware stores, around the lock portion of the cross bar to keep people from tapping out the pin that holds the lock. There is a band steel version of the U-type locks, but I don’t know what it’s called or how good it is.

Some of the messengers feel that it’s only a matter of time before their bikes are stolen, so they buy two locks. They beat the s*it out of one and basically make it look like it was broken. Then they use the other and fill out the warranty for the other. A good theif never leaves evidence behind. This means they never leave the lock behind.

If you’re looking for a U-type bicycle lock, here are a few things to look for :
  1. Does it have a pin that holds the lock in? This is hard to check, but you should be able to get the plastic back enough to see. If you can’t (some locks are in shrink wrapped packages), then ask the store to open a package and strip off the plastic for you to see. A good store will do this for you free of charge and keep it around to sell bicycle locks in the future.
  2. Does lock have a solid bar between the two points where the “U” is secured. This is usually pretty obvious. It’s either a solid bar or a pipe.
  3. Is the other end of the section of the lock that secures the “U” open? This usually requires the removal of the plastic that covers the lock.
  4. Does the lock mechanism have a metle shank that slides into the lock? If so, how thick is it? A superior locking mechanism will have a cylindrical ball that moves into hemisphere that is drilled into the “U”.
  5. How is the other end of the lock secured? Is it just bent? These are real easy to force. Does the bent end have a hole drilled in to it so that it hinges a hook inside (this is better that just being bent, but by no means the best). The best arrangement is to have a hole dirlled thru the section that the “U” is secured to. In this arrangement, you slide the “U” section into the hole in a perpendicular fassion (hard to describe, easy to understand).
  6. What is the warranty like? Does it require evidence of the lock being broken. Does it require you bicycle to be registered with the police? Does it require payment for registration with the company? Look the warranty over. Again, it may be in a shrink wrap package that you have to buy to open. A good bicycle shop will have an open package so that you can read the warranty and inspect the lock. In some ways, this is the most important step in buying a lock.

On an ending note, it should be noted that it is very important for every biker to know How to Steal a Bike so that he/she can protect their bike from thieves.


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