Will You Help Us Stop Online Bike Theft?
We’re witnessing the power that a small, but targeted local petition can have over the war against bike theft. Please join our petition: Demand eBay and Craiglist Require Serial Numbers on Bike Listings.
$400 Million in Bicycles Stolen Annually
That’s a lot of bicycles from owners who, in some cases, invested heavily in their two wheels and depend on them to get around. In the U.S., only 18 percent of bicycle thieves are ever arrested. One reason is that victim and thief rarely know each other. Another reason is that bicycle theft is largely a crime of stealth, one that goes unnoticed or unchallenged. Then there’s the problem of proof of ownership — most owners simply can’t provide enough details to help investigators locate a missing bike. Even if the bike is recovered, detained suspects are often released due to the proof-of-ownership problem. This is why so few recovered bicycles are ever returned to their owners. When thieves steal bikes, they often sell them to get rid of the evidence and cash in on the crime.
How Thieves Sell Stolen Bikes
The Internet has been a huge tool for bicycle thieves. Criminals waste no time putting stolen bikes on online eBay and Craigslist to sell them and rarely get caught or punished. Once a bike’s serial numbers are removed, thieves can unload a stolen bike to an unwitting consumer with very low risk. It’s too difficult to identify a bicycle in an online listing (even with a photo) to prove ownership or to get law enforcement to act. Unlike motor vehicles (where standardized VIN numbers, mandatory licensing and required incident reporting can help locate and ID a stolen car, van or truck), bicycle registration is not widespread, making ownership difficult to establish. There is one crucial thing we can do to help stop bicycle theft: no serial number, no sale.
While adding the serial number to the online listing of a bicycle won’t stop every thief, it can make a difference. Listings that lack serial numbers will immediately raise the suspicion of potential buyers. Yes, existing serial numbers can be filed off and new numbers can be added, but doing so will require extra time and work. What’s more, police will notice the obvious signs of these efforts and criminals will be reluctant to put themselves under suspicion.
Project 529 is a new company building software for cyclists, and they’ve launched a version of this petition earlier this summer on their website. In just a few months, the support from cyclists and the industry was overwhelming – more than 22,317 signatures. They’ve decided, along with the co-petitioners to move the petition to the global Care2 network. The Care2 signature count to stop bike theft has now reached more than 34 thousand and counting.
Please join the below organizations and more than 20,000 cyclists in the war against bike theft. Demand eBay and Craiglist Require Serial Numbers on Bike Listings.