DENVER - In an effort to illustrate how quickly weak cable locks attract thieves, 9Wants to Know set up a GPS tracking device on a bike and locked it up at some of the worst areas for theft around town.
The GPS device is disguised as a workable rear bike light. It can send text messages to a cell phone when the bike moves or when it is stolen. Coordinates are uploaded every 30 seconds to a website that tracks the bike in real time.
In two of the thefts documented by 9Wants to Know, thieves broke through a cable lock commonly sold at stores around town.
A $94 brand new Huffy mountain bike was used during 9Wants to Know's experiment to show how thieves will steal any bike, regardless of cost, if it's unsecured with a weak lock.
9Wants to Know picked two locations recently profiled in Denver's Top 10 Worst Bike Racks.
First Location: Denver's downtown library
9Wants to Know locked up the Huffy bike among the commonly used library bike racks on Friday afternoon, June 2.
In less than 48 hours, the GPS tracker sent out an alert showing the bike was stolen and moving slowly.
Two men were eventually found pushing a shopping cart with the bike near 9th and Speer.
The men claimed they "found" the bike, but library surveillance video obtained by 9Wants to Know reveals the duo yanking on the bike and then eventually cutting the cable lock.
Second Location: Confluence Park, near REI
Among bike advocates and police, Confluence Park near REI is known as a favorite location for bike thieves.
Numerous expensive bikes locked up around REI property are commonly seen on any given day.
Recently, REI customer Ryan Steele told 9Wants to Know his $8,000 bike was stolen on store property while it was locked with a cable lock on a car rack.
"I was just in shock," Steele said. "For somebody just to come by and take my stuff because they can make a quick buck off of it, that's what really disheartens me about the human species."
9Wants to Know locked up the Huffy at one of the commonly used racks just off store property late Friday morning on June 7. In less than 24 hours, the GPS device gave an alert the bike was on the move.
During tracking, the GPS device failed to upload coordinates. The last reading showed the bike last at the Highland Bridge, but a thief was nowhere to be seen.
Eventually, by chance, 9Wants to Know spotted a man with a bike nearby at Commons Park. The man claimed he "found" the bike leaning up against the store.
After the man willingly turned over the Huffy to 9Wants to Know, a broken cable lock was found at the bike rack.
REI declined to give 9Wants to Know any potential video evidence of the theft. A company spokesperson said it was corporate policy to turn over such material only to law enforcment authorities.
A Denver Police detective is currently taking a look at the thefts documented by 9Wants to Know.
How to protect your bike
- Register your bike. Most bike serial numbers can be found at the bottom of the pedal crank.
- Take photos of your bike even before you even take it out for a ride. Keep your purchasing paperwork in a spot at home you can easily find it.
- Try to use two different locks and avoid parking your bike in public places over night.
- When you do lock up your bike, make sure you're locking up your frame and not just the tires. Thieves will make the effort to take off your frame if you lock your bike only using the tire.
- Try to use bike racks when locking up your bike. Avoid using sign posts or parking meters.
- If possible, remove any accessories you may have on your bike, including lamps and even bicycle seats.
If your bike is stolen, contact police and file a report. You may find your bike on Craiglist or EBay. Try to spread the word on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
If you do think you found your bike for sale online, don't approach the seller yourself. Call police.
Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him
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