A bright blue Schwinn bicycle was stolen in the 2500 block of Grant Street in northwest Evanston. This and other stories in today’s daily crime bulletin from Evanston police.
A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio... More by Charles Bartling
Evanston is a center for bicycling, but it's also a hotbed of bicycle thievery. Another two bikes were stolen in today's crime report, above. Both were in yards, and at least one was reported to be completely unlocked.
If it's in your yard, don't assume someone can't just walk in and take it. Ditto with a garage, basement or apartment building bike room: lock your bike at all times if it's unattended, even for five minutes.
Cable locks are basically useless. They can be cut in a moment with a simple bolt cutter or electrician's wire snips. Only use cables for secondary locking of bike accessories, not as a primary lock. Use a sturdy U-lock to lock the rear wheel and frame to a sturdy metal post; don't lock to a wooden fence, chainlink fence, small tree, bolted-down street sign ("sucker pole" in cyclist parlance) or anything else that can be easily cut or broken or removed. The rear wheel with your hub or gears is worth more than a front wheel, so use your best lock for that. Use a second U-lock or stout chain to lock the front wheel and frame to a sturdy object as well–using two locks is called "cross locking" and is always more secure than using just one lock. A third lock (perhaps a cable) can hold down your seat, rear rack, helmet, etc. Always remove quick release lights and panniers when leaving your bike somewhere. Your goal is to make your bike so difficult and unattractive to a thief that they'll move on to an easier target.
Right now, if you don't know the serial number of your bike, go look and write it down somewhere–putting it on your cellphone is handy. Snap a few pictures of your bike, particulary unique scratches, stickers, dents–anything that can help prove your bike belongs to you in the event of a theft. Register it with the Evanston Police–it costs only fifty cents, a bargain. Roll up a business card or two and tuck them inside tires, seatposts, handlebars–if your bike is stolen, and recovered, the thief probably won't discover your hidden id's and you can easily show the police that the bike really is yours when you pull the cards out in front of them.
If you should have your bike stolen, file a police report, then put a report on stolenbikes.org. That way, bike shop employees and other area cyclists can keep an eye out for your bike and possibly get it back to you. Also check stolenbikes.org for specific bikes and stolen serial numbers, if you're buying a bike from an area flea market or online seller, so that you don't enable more thieves by buying their thefts.
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