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Old 07-18-2006, 08:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How to steal a bike in NYC

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I've had my bike stolen in front of my house in suburbian San Fernando Valley, CA when I was a kid. My roommate had her bike stolen from the 4 floor walk up in Hoboken NJ in the early 90s.

This video shows a man breaking the lock in different methods from bolt cutters to hacksaw, angle grinder to hammer and spike. He does this in several locations, Union Square, Astor Place, 14th Street & 7th Avenue, and World Trade Center.

Would you inquire if you saw someone trying to break the locks on the bike? When you see someone stealing something do you say anything?
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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haha if you look behind the guy at about 1:28 you see a cop car. Wonder if there was a cop in it?

As far as the question goes, it would depend on my mood if I would inquire about something. I think most people wouldn't because they feel that if someone is brash enough to steal something in broad daylight, they won't mind giving you a fat lip for asking.
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Not 2 months ago, I stopped some punk kids from stealing dvds from Fry's electronic store. As they ran by, I grabbed both of them and heald them until the police got there. Sure, they could have tried to sue, but hopefully no self respecting judge would sentence me for helping out. If I saw someone stealing a bike, I'd be glad to confront them. Most people would probably run off, anyway.
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Old 07-18-2006, 08:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I probably would, not that it would really matter. Maybe he is stealing a bike or maybe there's a legitimate reason for breaking the chain, I wouldn't know either way. Not that a call to the cops would do much good anyhow it appears.

As for stealing in general, it really just depends. Most times I'll speak up, but sometimes it's better for me karma-wise to do otherwise.
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guccilvr
haha if you look behind the guy at about 1:28 you see a cop car. Wonder if there was a cop in it?
actually there are cop cars parked on that side of 14th street all the time. There more than likely was no officer in the car at the time. There is a police station at Union Square Station on the mezzanine.

But if you watch the WTC part 4:20 you'll see a Police van slow down as it passes him. The officer even converses with the cameraman I'm assuming that he says, "You can't be in the active lane."
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Old 07-18-2006, 10:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I HAVE called the cops when I have seen people messing with bike locks. Bike theft is extremely common here (college town); not too long ago my boyfriend had his Trek stolen while he was at work.

Bike theft isn't funny, and it hurts--my boyfriend lost his main mode of transportation when his bike was stolen. It was also a gift from his parents, and one we can't afford to replace.
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Old 07-18-2006, 11:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We have had two bikes stolen from brazen assholes who went thru our gate, into our backyard and took them-one while we were in a well lit diningroom having dinner.. with the windows open! We never heard it and they had to go behind the Cadillac by the garage.
My kids don't want bikes now.
"Excuse me, sir, you're in an inactive lane." That needs to be in a rookie training film!! "what's wrong with this scene?"
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't live in area where people bike a lot so this has never come up. But what can you do? Ask if it's there bike? All they have to say is "yes," you can't prove it's not. Call the cops? Can they do much? I dunno. I'd imagine by the time they got there that if it was a thief (who'd be using bolt cutters or something fast) they'd be gone before the cops got there.
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Old 07-18-2006, 01:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've only ever had one bike stolen, and that when I was about ten or so. It was-- For lack of a better word-- A piece of junk, so I really wasn't too upset when someone stole it. I still can't believe that someone would have actually wanted that bike.

Anyway, I bike theft really isn't too common around here. At least, it's not on campus. It's rather funny to watch people go to such odd lengths just so steal a bike.
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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In Amsterdam it's very common to have your bike stolen.
I've also had a motorcycle stolen.
Was not happy about that at all.
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Old 07-18-2006, 07:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It is pretty amazing that he did it so blatantly and openly. I especially like the end where the police van drives by to tell the cameraman to get out of the street while right behind them a man is stealing a bicycle.
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Old 07-19-2006, 04:00 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Just reminded me of an old picture I had laying around...

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Old 07-19-2006, 05:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I’m sure that would happen in just about any city in America, people are just too unconventional with strangers.

My daughter had two almost three bikes stolen from our place in a two month period. The last time I was coming home and saw someone riding down the street on her bike. I flew into the my driveway and sprinted to the guy. Told him to get FUCK OFF MY DAUGHTER’S BIKE. He got off, and told me that I really shouldn’t rush up on people like that. I said, “Fuck you, you piece of shit. You shouldn’t steal little kids bikes” He said, “I didn’t steal it, I found it.” Some people got a lot of nerve.

It felt good saying that, after it happened twice already. It was almost worth him taking it.
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Old 07-19-2006, 06:30 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Wow,
After just visiting a few of those places for the first time yesterday (I'm visiting NYC this week), I'm pretty shocked that not one person actually stopped by (there's nearly always people around, and it looked like it in the video) and said something (except Hector )


I've noticed a lot of people in NYC used the U-shaped bikelocks, they look effective, but I wonder if they really are. I remember reading a while back that some of those U-shaped bikelocks can actually be picked with a bic pen, but the locks probably have been modified since then.

If I saw it happening, then yeah, I should and probably will, but I didn't ask a couple days ago. I was walking back (9 pm ish) down 76th in queens and there was a guy in a driveway looking into a car. Next door, were a male and female who was sitting on the porch (drinking and relaxing, looking like they lived there), talking with the guy. I wasn't sure if I should have stopped, but it did look a bit suspicious. In retrospect, I don't know if I should have done anything. (All I did was give a gleeming look to the guy).

Catcha back on the flipside,
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Old 07-19-2006, 08:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Ok. that's hilarious and quite sad. I'd like to think that I would confront someone who was stealing a bike, but honestly I'm a fairly petite woman and depending upon the physique of the crook, I might not feel entirely at ease with speaking up.

But really... how many people use a chain that could so easily be broken by bolt cutters? 2 methods of locking up my bike at any given time- make it look like a junky bike and park it next to the pretty, shiney, poorly locked more expensive ones. And as far away from parking lots and car-accessible streets as possible. I haven't had any issues *yet.*

fhqwhgads - that photo is HILARIOUS. now was that a setup, or something you happend by?
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:03 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genuinegirly
But really... how many people use a chain that could so easily be broken by bolt cutters?
Two things, first, every bike lock I've ever had could easily be dispatched with a pair of bolt cutters. Most of them have been poly coated steel cable. Might take a little but, But I think you could get it off with bolt cutters.

Second, if some is that blatantly trying to get a lock off a bike, I would imagine, without knowing, most people would assume he forgot the combo, or lost the key, and was just trying to get HIS bike back.

It goes to prove, if you look sneaky and suspicious, you are, if you look like you belong, no one bothers you.
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:56 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genuinegirly
fhqwhgads - that photo is HILARIOUS. now was that a setup, or something you happend by?
A friend sent it to me awhile back. I kept it in my folder full of "funny stuff that you'll want to pass on again some day".
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Old 07-19-2006, 01:56 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I once stole my own bike. My U-lock broke and I had to use a hydraulic lever to break it and rescue my bike.

I've seen many people 'lock down' their bike to a pole or something equally easy to remove a bike (and lock/chain) from.
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Old 07-19-2006, 02:14 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by fhqwhgads
Just reminded me of an old picture I had laying around...

fhqwhgads, that is just awesome. I've seen plenty of bikes locked to little stubby saplings or other useless anchors but never such a true indicator of 3-dimensional impairment.
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrnel
fhqwhgads, that is just awesome. I've seen plenty of bikes locked to little stubby saplings or other useless anchors but never such a true indicator of 3-dimensional impairment.

Hey! At least this bike won't be stolen by small children or elderly!! So there!!
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Old 07-20-2006, 05:36 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Actually, I would question it. I would call the cops, ask the person straight out ONLY if there were other people around. Take a picture on a camera phone etc...
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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The ones who hide it are the ones who get caught. If you see two men talking in mid day and then they trade briefcases, you might think it was a bit wierd.. but you wouldn't do much about it. Now if it's 2 am and they're wearing ski masks, you probably would call the cops.

Any GOOD crook knows that the best way to hide something is to put it in plain sight. It's all about being absolutely ridiculous in your obviousness. If he had been pacing back and forth looking for cops, or looking up at every person who passed with those oh-so-guilty eyes that amateur crooks have.. he probably would have aroused more suspicion. I'd like to see him do this same video with other people's bikes. I bet you a million bucks that his suspicious activity would actually become suspicious, because he'd know he was actually breaking a law this time.

That's why I hide all MY crimes in plain sight.

I thought I'd share a similar article I read on Slashdot this morning.. Application and Perimeter penetration teams that work with corporations to see exactly where their vulnerabilities lie:

Quote:
Now dressed in the appropriate attire, we started walking the facility. We located an empty conference room and commandeered it as our place to work. As my colleague jacked into the network and started scanning each address, I started moving through the facility looking for anything that could provide privileged network access.

Within minutes, I located workstations littered with sticky notes containing logins and passwords. Some even provided detailed information on which systems could be accessed. After collecting several logins and passwords, I made my way back to our conference room to use what I had found.

As soon as I walked into the room, my colleague indicated he was now a domain administrator with access to numerous systems as well. Our efforts led us to a significant find of HIPAA-rich information. After several hours, we had collected enough information for our report, and we casually exited the building through the same doorway we entered.
http://www.darkreading.com/document....T.svl=tease3_2

You do it like you know it, and you do it in plain sight.. and no one even thinks twice.
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Old 07-21-2006, 08:07 PM   #23 (permalink)
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This reminds me of seeing a bike chained to something several years ago. The guy was smart, he took the seat with him thus if anyone really wanted to steal the bike, they would not be able to ride it sitting down.

I was very impressed with how ingenious he was.
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Old 07-21-2006, 09:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I've been the witness to a crime one time that I can remember. I was in a convenience store when a couple of college age guys did a "beer run". It's a pretty simple, straightforward form of theft. A goes in and gets a case of beer or two if he can handle that, and B loiters near the door. A wanders over near the door, B opens it, and they both run. The clerk can either chase and abandon the store, or let it go and call the police.

I happened to be standing at the counter near the front door with my diet Pepsi when one college-aged boy hanging out near the door opened it and the other came running our way. I stepped aside not feeling that the cost of a case of beer was worth risking my safety, and the store clerk yelled at me for getting out of the way.

If I had spider powers, sure, I'd stop the thief, but I'm not risking my physical health for ten dollars worth of beer.

My brother would have ensured that a clean exit was not achieved. I don't know about Grace--her thing is always protect the physical safety of any person at the expense of property, so I'm thinking she'd have let it go also.

Gilda

Last edited by Gilda; 07-22-2006 at 02:01 AM..
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Old 07-21-2006, 10:19 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JinnKai
The ones who hide it are the ones who get caught. If you see two men talking in mid day and then they trade briefcases, you might think it was a bit wierd.. but you wouldn't do much about it. Now if it's 2 am and they're wearing ski masks, you probably would call the cops.

Any GOOD crook knows that the best way to hide something is to put it in plain sight.
Just in addition: What's most necessary about these plain site crimes is to act like you belong there and that it's your job and business to be doing what you're doing.


on topic:
Being in NYC, I know a lot of people will see a video/film camera where someone is doing something outlandish and automatically think its for a reality TV show or a student film. people are numb to it.

This is especially true for Astor Place and Union Square, as NYU and NYFA are minutes from both locations, and both have large film programs.

It's a little disturbing to see that happen at the WTC though.

I'm basically wondering how visible the camera man was all of the passer by.
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Old 07-23-2006, 01:33 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I proably wouldn't question it either.

Mid-day Manhattan (especially in the places each scene took place) gives off the impression that there is this omnipresent police force - in most places in Manhattan it takes no longer than 5-8 minutes to spot a cop on foot or a few driving by...I'm sure that most of the passerby assumed (even if only subconciously) that if he were stealing another person's bike in the middle of the day that the police certainly would've stepped in.

Besides, I've been that guy who's locked himself out of the house and has had to climb in through an open window - I'd have probably just sympathized with the guy and just like Hector, I'd have probably helped him.

However thought provoking it may be, the video isn't indictive of anything in particular.
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Old 07-23-2006, 02:51 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I am going to point out the obvious:
Its a white guy, in broad daylight.
No one would make it SO OBVIOUS to look like they are stealing a bike.
Thats how N.Y. is.
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