used our new listings to nab bike
(Photo: Jack Newlevant)
I’ve got great news for bike lovers and horrible news for bike thieves… It’s been about four years since we first launched the BikePortland Stolen Bike Listings and now, after a long hiatus, they are back and better than ever.
But before I share more about our new and vastly improved listings, let me share how we got to this point…
Back in the day, I would input all the listings manually. But once we started recovering bikes (so many that I actually stopped keeping track), word spread quickly (the media loved it) and I couldn’t keep up the manual entry (I knew something had to change when I answered my phone in the middle of the night and a woman was sobbing on the other end as she described her stolen steed).
Thankfully, about a year after our listings launched, I teamed up with web programmer Michael Jones. He knew his skills could make our listings better and together we created Finetoothcog and integrated it tightly with BikePortland.org (listings on Finetoothcog would automagically appear here).
Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch (and the fact that Mr. Jones got very busy with work that actually paid the bills), the Finetoothcog/BikePortland Stolen Bike Listings went kaput in February of 2008. Since then, I just have not had the time or inclination to make them work again. Until now…
At the beginning of this year, I connected with Bryan Hance. Bryan is the guy behind StolenBicycleRegistry.com (SBR), a national database of stolen bikes. With an assist from Michael Jones, Bryan and I got together to figure out a way to bring BikePortland’s listings back to life.
After a lot of tinkering, the result was a WordPress plugin created by Bryan that integrates bike listings on BikePortland with the larger (and more sophisticated) SBR database.
Thanks to Bryan, listings submitted here on BikePortland are also listed in the SBR (and the two stay synced, even if a listing is edited after the fact). This is important, because once your stolen bike is a part of his listings, they are added to the SBR “Watchlist” emails sent out twice a month to over 400 subsribers, and they are available to anyone using the SBR serial number search tool (which also has a mobile version).
But wait, there’s more!
We’ve also set up a separate Twitter feed, @StolenBikesPDX, for all our listings and so far over 70 people are signed up. In addition, we have about 170 people (mostly local bike shop mechanics who watch their service areas for suspicious bikes) who subscribe to the RSS feed (and/or a digest email) of our listings and the most recent listings are posted on the sidebar on every page of BikePortland.org.
We’ve already had 45 listings since we soft-launched this new feature at the beginning of June, and they’re already having an impact! Portland police officer Robert Pickett told us last week that he seized a stolen bike, but had no idea who owned it. But, once the woman posted her bike on BikePortland, Pickett saw the listing, returned the bike to her and put together a decent criminal case against the suspect.
We’re still tweaking things, so your feedback is appreciated. Check out our previous Bike Theft coverage and stay tuned for more news about this tool and articles about how to prevent and recover stolen bikes.
You can list a bike, check current listings, and learn more at our Bike Theft Central Page.
Want to help support BikePortland and get some valuable exposure for your business or product? We are looking for a promotional partner to sponsor our Stolen Bike Listings feature. If you’re interested, please drop us a line.