Yesterday a record ten bikes were listed on the BikePortland Stolen Bike Listings, bringing July’s total to 30.
In May, 80 bikes were listed and June would have topped that if the listings hadn’t broken after my server crash.
Portland was recently named one of the “Top Ten” worst cities for bike theft in America.
Bike theft has been an ongoing problem in Portland and despite attention from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and collaborative efforts with the PPB and PDOT to increase education about prevention, it shows no signs of going away any time soon.
Short of an ordinance that would outlaw cable locks (which account for the vast majority of thefts), I’m not sure how to solve the problem.
(Image: Brian Hance)
One idea that holds promise comes from bike theft guru and founder of StolenBicycleRegistry.com, Brian Hance. He recently published an article titled, “Open Source Bike Recovery – On The Cheap” that details how the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags could be a, “simple low-cost solution”.
Hance says that RFID is already used to find lost pets and he wants a similar system for bicycles.
He lays out a potential example of how the system would work:
“Imagine a local police impound warehouse – where most stolen bikes end up, sooner or later. If they could be provided with a handheld RFID reader, the entire process would be something like:
1) Police point the reader at a bike (or pile of bikes)
2) The reader grabs any serial numbers from the RFID chip inside the bike
3) The reader uses 3G or EDGE to transmit these serials to the ownership database
4) The database returns a “Stolen/Not Stolen” reply
5) If it’s stolen, the database notifies the owner via email, including pickup/contact info
6) All scanning and tracking results are available to the police via secure web-based admin
7) Recovery and pickup are left to the owner”
Hance has the smarts to develop the system, he just needs a bit of help to get started:
“All the technology exists, and is just waiting to be plugged together…For now, we just need some people to dive in and start building.”
If you’d like to connect with Hance and make something happen, send him at email at bhance at gmail dot com.
…and in the meantime, don’t use a cable lock!