Bike thefts on BART: good news, bad news

Bike thefts at BART stations are down.

Bike thefts at BART stations are down.


Today’s San Jose Mercury News has a story about bike thefts being down on BART. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that more bikes secured with U-locks are being stolen. Ouch.

I switched to an OnGuard U-lock a year ago, thinking my bike would be safe. To a degree I was right. The cable locks I used could be cut with a pair of good pliers.

Any lock can be defeated. With a half-hour of practice I taught myself how to open a combination Master Lock, thanks to YouTube tutorials.

The article doesn’t say how the U-locks were defeated. I’m guessing hacksaw (some can be picked). I saw a YouTube video where a guy used dry ice to freeze the metal, then bang it with a hammer. It shattered eventually. Clever.

None of these methods of defeating a U-lock are easy, so I wonder why BART security cameras wouldn’t capture the theft? I’m assuming they have cameras over bike racks.

Most thieves go for the easy first, so a U-lock will dissuade all but the most ardent bike thief. The pros troll college campuses and steal by the dozen. For some it’s a living.

So don’t throw away your U-lock. It’s still the best lock out there.

One way to limit thievery would be to flood public places with free bikes. Pretty soon everyone who wanted or needed a bike, and petty thieves, would have one. It’s the Google philosophy to make bikes freely available on its campus to encourage riding between buildings. Great idea.

Next I’ll look at the current model of renting bikes in public places.

2 Responses to “Bike thefts on BART: good news, bad news”

  1. miles Says:

    A battery powered grinder or a reciprocating saw with a good blade will go through most u locks in a minute or two. Sadly I think the best policy is to never lock your bike at a bart station for more than a few minutes unless you’re ok with it being stolen eventually. At least that’s my perspective as someone who commutes to SF from the east bay.

  2. Grego Says:

    The best lock out there, FWIW, is a chain such as the Kryptonite NYC Chain accompanied by a strong padlock. Difficult to grind, difficult to freeze, very difficult to pick. Better security than a U-Lock, but unfortunately it’s an ungainly ten-pound belt of metal. Regardless what lock you use, though, if you leave the bike for long, people will steal all the parts from it.

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