Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)


Take steps to protect against bike thieves

The power of social media was evident recently when a stolen bike was returned to an owner who didn't know it had been stolen. The story in the Tampa Bay Times described how Tom Davidson, driving along Tampa's West Shore Boulevard on Thanksgiving, noticed a high-end bike with a rider who didn't seem to belong on it. Davidson posted a picture of the bike and rider on the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club's Facebook page. Moments later, Mike Weimar, a store manager at Flying Fish Bicycles, saw the post and recognized his customer's bike.

But Davidson didn't stop there. He offered the guy $221 for the bike, which really was worth $5,000. The offer was readily accepted, along with a ride home.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is still investigating.

Most stolen bikes aren't recovered so easily, and that's why every bike owner should take extra care with security.

The bike Davidson helped recover was taken out of an unlocked garage in an upscale neighborhood. Weimar thinks you should not only lock your garage; you also should lock your bike to something inside that can't be moved.

In St. Petersburg, 1,187 bikes have been reported stolen this year, and just 162 have been recovered. Most are stolen from public places, according to St. Petersburg police Detective Sandra Minor. "It doesn't matter what type of lock you use, a determined thief will get it," she said. "They know which bikes are valuable," though often the easiest bikes to nab will be the ones that disappear.

On the streets, use a lock that fits the situation, said Nick Watkins, general manager of the Kryptonite division of Allegion, which makes U-locks. A 10-minute stop on a busy, well-lit street might require a simple cable lock. But a bike left for a longer time in an isolated area should be secured with the best, and likely heaviest, lock you can buy. "You should encompass as much of the bike as possible, including the frame and a wheel," Watkins said. "Put the lock high up on your frame, so the thief can't use the ground as leverage. Fill up the inside of the lock with as much of the bike as you can." The less room the thief has to work, the better.

Bicycling magazine recommends taking off the front wheel and locking it to the frame as well. Make sure what you're locking the bike to is solidly planted in the ground and tall enough that a thief can't lift the bike over it. The magazine also says a 12-millimeter-thick chain is the hardest to break.

"Often, bike theft is a crime of opportunity," Minor said. "The bike is there and easy to get. Thieves want to get it and get gone.''

While recovering a bike is a tough proposition, you can take steps to help yourself. First, record the bike's serial number. Most bikes have one, often below the bottom bracket where the pedals are. Report the number to the police so that if they find your bike, you can claim it. Have a picture of your bike and note any marks that may help police identify it.

Register your bike with your local police department. You also can register it with the National Bike Registry (

Pawn shops enter serial numbers into a database in St. Petersburg, so police can check for your bike there, but increasingly, Detective Minor said, thieves sell bikes on the street or online. Check immediately, and if you see what you believe to be your bike, let the police contact the seller.

List your prized possession on your homeowners insurance, and keep the receipt to prove its worth, Weimar said. It may be your baby, but being compensated can help mitigate the loss.

And post a picture of it on a cycling Facebook page. You never know what might work.

Bob Griendling is vice president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club and a member of the Mayor's Bicycling and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He blogs at Contact him at

Take steps to protect against bike thieves 12/26/14 [Last modified: Friday, December 26, 2014 8:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Chris Archer has made a name for himself on the mound. And at a time when some athletes work to steer clear of any issue with a tint of controversy for fear it could damage their brand, Archer has used that platform to weigh in on some topical social, political and news events.

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  2. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  3. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  4. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  5. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look


    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …