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An update on the Stolen Bike Listings

Posted by on September 7th, 2006 at 7:55 am

You might have noticed that I just posted 72 stolen bike listings. Sorry for the onslaught (especially those of you that read via my RSS feed) but I can explain everything.

But before I do, check out this video clip from FOX News (KPTV) that aired a few days ago. It features an interview with yours truly as well as someone who recovered their bike here on BikePortland.org.

OK, back to the explaining…

For the past month or so, I’ve been working with local web programmer Michael Jones of Code in Motion. We’ve been working to integrate his Finetoothcog service with my Stolen Bike Listings.

Finetoothcog takes a stolen bike listing and then automatically scans Craigslist (just Portland for now and soon eBay too) for any matches. If a similar listing is found (meaning someone might be trying to sell your bike), you can be instantly notified.

[Screenshot from Finetoothcog.com]

In addition to scanning for your bike, Jones’ web wizardry can do other cool stuff like automatically create a Google Map of stolen bike locations (coming soon), run queries to find what type of locks are being defeated, what brand of bikes are stolen most often, and much more.

According to Jones, “Once you’ve got the listings and data, you can do all sorts of cool things.”

From now on, all my stolen bike listings will use this form on Finetoothcog.com. When the data is submitted, the bike is entered into the Finetoothcog system as well as becoming a post here on BikePortland.org where it will be seen by thousands of Portland cyclists every day.

With these two sites working together, I think we offer one of the best and most high-tech stolen bike recovery services you’ll find anywhere.

The coolest thing is that we’re just getting started. We have lots of ideas to make the service even better so stay tuned as we refine, tweak and add to this great service.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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BikePortland.org » Blog Archive » Sneak peek at stolen bikes on Google MapsBradorganic brianDr. Mark RossPussPants Recent comment authors
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joy
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joy

That’s amazing technology. It’s worth the onslaught; although I wish we didn’t need it at all.

Austin
Guest

Let me get this straight: You have what is basically a real time system for tracking stolen bikes on the web, while gathering data on where bikes are stolen and lock type? So in addition to reuniting people with their bikes, you also identify where the problem areas are and metrics on how to keep your rig safe.

Wow. That is just too cool.

Nice work guys. Portland is lucky to have you both.

natallica
Guest
natallica

genius

Cate
Guest
Cate

Wow, Jonathan and Michael, this is excellent. Thank you very much.

Maybe this will be like Get Lit – after the police see how great it is, they’ll do it themselves.

T-Rex
Guest

This morning I saw an unsavory looking fellow with a pair of 24″ bolt cutters bungied to the top tube of his huffy… now I try not to pass judgement, but I wasn’t the only bike commuter on the MAX that morning eyeing him…

Burk
Guest
Burk

That is Brilliant – talk about community policing. Great work guys!

Ayala
Guest
Ayala

I’m glad you posted about the switchover – I unfortunately had to list my bike yesterday (Iron Horse QuestX) and was a bit confused over the changes. It seems to be an excellent system 🙂

Hawthorne rider
Guest
Hawthorne rider

Great job! I am particularly interested in hearing some of the data about areas where the most bike thefts occur and with what types of lock. That will really help separate facts from urban myth. I always hear that even Kryptonite locks are beatable (liquid nitrogen? does that really occur??), so I want to hear if that’s true! It will be great for public education if we can x percent of bikes locked with cable locks were stolen or x percent of bikes stolen were left on front porches (for even 5 minutes) unlocked.

Hawthorne rider
Guest
Hawthorne rider

Ooops – my last sentence should read:
It will be great for public education if we can SAY…

Mary Sue
Guest

You guys rock.

Pete Jacobsen
Guest
Pete Jacobsen

Jonathan,
Does this mean you will not email the list of bikes anymore? You said 72 were posted, but I did not get the usual email.

Pete

Jonathan Maus
Guest

Pete,
The Stolen Bike Digest is on hiatus. I am getting too many listings these days to continue doing it manually.

The great news is that Michael Jones will help me automate the whole thing so it will return better than ever in the very near future.

Rixtir
Guest
Rixtir

Does the software scan all of craigslist, or PDX craigslist? Because I’m thinking that most bikes either end up in other cities, or parted out on Ebay…

Jonathan Maus
Guest

Rixtir,
Right now it scans just Portland Craigslist. It’s my hunch that most of the bike theft here is petty crime and not an organized effort.

That being said, it would not be too difficult to expand the scan area and I know Michael is already planning to do that some day.

Ian
Guest

I just checked out the site and its a wonderful idea, however it doesn’t address some spacifics to help someone spot a bike. Many people miss these things when filling out a discription.
What about tabs for size, mountian/road/hybrid/cyclocross, ladies frame, etc….and instead of general have distinguishing features.
To use one of the better posts as an example-there is a bianchi milano on the list with a very good description, but it doesn’t tell me if its a standard or ladies frame, so if these types of features could be added it would really help.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Jonathan and Michael, this is amazing. You guys are real heroes!

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

As Ian started, is there some way we can contribute ideas or help with testing or anything? This could be a platform to build upon. Fantastic idea, let’s see it through all the way!

MJ
Guest

Thanks for all the great feedback folks! It’s exciting to see finetoothcog up and running.

This idea started late one night several months ago when I was wondering what I could do with RSS feeds and a few lines of Ruby.

Jonathan and I have several ideas that I’ll be working on over the next couple weeks. I also encourage you all to post your ideas here or email them to info[at]finetoothcog[dot]com.

PussPants
Guest

This reminds me of that other “bikey” project:

tripplanner.bycycle.org

These folks have been working full time for two and a half years to bring the bike community this fantastic tool! Amazing, especially because it’s built with no funding, using money out of their own pockets. Hooray for them as well!

We’re so lucky to have such great online tools here in Portland.

(this comment is not an attempt to steal the lime light from FineToothCog)

Dr. Mark Ross
Guest
Dr. Mark Ross

joy sez: “although I wish we didn’t need it at all.”

Unfortunately we’ve nobody to blame but ourselves. My upstairs neighbor doesn’t like to haul his bike upstairs so he leaves it in an open to the public courtyard nearly 24/7 unlocked. Then there is the girl in the next building — two bikes, never locked, against a post in front of the building.

organic brian
Guest
organic brian

With so many great anti-theft features, it may become all but impossible to get away with bike theft eventually. At the Salmon Nation Block Party bike parking / Shift table, Carl had a great system going: taking Polaroid pictures of cyclists with their bikes, for use as a receipt when getting the bikes later, and volunteers took down the serial # and description on a sticker to be put on the photo when the owner returned. The photo with info would be a handy resource if the bike becomes stolen later on.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Lo-Jack has a system for laptops now. I imagine that it is small and light enough to adapt to bikes. That could be a nice factory option for bikes – a Lo-Jack transmitter sealed somewhere in the tubing.

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[…] As promised when I introduced my partnership with Finetoothcog, web programming guru Michael Jones of Code in Motion has been hard at work trying to integrate your stolen bike listings into a Google Map interface. […]