Bike stolen and found again ... again

Ref an earlier post of mine, /@tobixen/my-bike-got-stolen-and-found-again, I have a tracker installed on my electrical bike and it has already been useful once.

So it happened again. This time the bike was locked at my local train station. I was away for less than 90 minutes. Actually, my old bike (probably not worth a lot, it was an old bike after all) also got stolen by the train station during day time previous year, and that's the reason why I bought a tracker in the first place. I've also noticed other bikes getting stolen there (by observing the cut-off lock lying on the ground). There is a small difference, previous time I got a bike stolen from the train station it was locked to a random pole, now they have constructed a huge bike shed by the train station. I've never seen more than a small fraction of the capacity there being used.

Here is the lock, cut off and lying on the ground:

lock lying on the ground
fullsize - localtime: 2021-08-09 10:56:07 - geo:59.9497829722222,10.888688 - OpenStreetMaps, GPS Alt: 168.25 GPS Time: 8.93556

(It's not a good lock - but then again, all locks can easily be cut with the right tools nowadays)

And this was the exact position I parked my bike:

some photo
fullsize - localtime: 2021-08-09 10:57:34 - geo:59.9497819722222,10.8887459722222 - OpenStreetMaps, GPS Alt: 167.95 GPS Time: 8.95944

I left the cut-off lock there as a warning to others. Today it's gone.

My train arrived 10:53 to the train station, and the tracker was reporting a position right nearby around the corner, with timestamp 10:55 (by the road - probably because it's difficult to stop and load bikes into a van right by the train station). Unfortunately I was a bit slow in my reaction and was probably at the place around the corner somewhere between 10:57 and 11:02. Of course, too late. So I went home to pick up another bike so I'd be ready to chase the bike whenever it would report new positions. But it didn't. For 24 hours there was no position reports.

Now I considered two possibilities:

  • Such tracker device probably isn't so terribly rare anymore, I've seen other companies producing trackers to be installed in the same place. A professional bike thief would probably be quick to check for such devices and disable them. While it's needed with a special tool to remove the tracking device, taking a power drill and just drilling it out should be a quick, easy and fail-safe way to disable it (possible solution is to hide tracker in different places, like inside the battery back, seat rod or somewhere else).
  • Perhaps someone had thrown the bike into a "faraday cage" where it has no GPS or cellphone connection - a closed metallic luggage space in a van, a container or some closed storage space in a truck would probably do. If the bike was stored inside a building, GPS position would be off, but it should still yield a "cellphone position" I think.

24 hours later a position showed up again - still in the very same area. I followed the position and got to some fenced-in yard storing wrongly parked cars, scooters, etc.

Junk yard
fullsize - localtime: 2021-08-10 13:06:41 - geo:59.9494729722222,10.886236 - OpenStreetMaps, GPS Alt: 163.37 GPS Time: 11.11139

I looked a bit around over the fence without finding the bike, then we found a door bell and politely asked the employee there if we could search the lot for a stolen bike. However, we had only some few minutes available due to another appointment, and I didn't understand how to use the bluetooth positioning mode (it should show the approximate distance to the bike based on bluetooth signal strength). I came back some fifteen minutes later and resumed the search - eventually I found the bike nicely folded and thrown down a hill into some bushes nearby the junk yard.

Bike found in some bushes
fullsize - localtime: 2021-08-10 13:03:10 - geo:59.949539,10.88639 - OpenStreetMaps, GPS Alt: 172.04 GPS Time: 11.05278

Bike is folded out, seems to be in order, battery is still full as I left it
fullsize - localtime: 2021-08-10 13:04:21 - geo:59.9494929722222,10.8864389722222 - OpenStreetMaps, GPS Alt: 171.36 GPS Time: 11.07278

If it has been lying like this since yesterday, then the tracker is not working properly - I should do more research on that.

Why would someone steal a locked bike, just to fold it together and toss it right around the corner?

A friend of mine suggested that someone had simply "borrowed" it because they needed to do a ride. I find it very unlikely - people usually don't carry around wire cutters just in case they need to "borrow" a bike, I would (most likely) have picked up GPS tracks from such a ride, and the person "borrowing" the bike would probably not have taken the effort to fold it together and throw it into some bushes right nearby where it was "borrowed".

My wife suggested that some professional thief has taken the bike, had a look at it, considered the condition of it, communicated with potential buyers, but then decided not to keep it for some reason or another (perhaps found the tracker and decided to dump it quickly). It may be plausible.

Another thought, it could be that this guy we talked with at the junk yard was the thief, and decided to get rid of the evidence and dump it quickly into the bushes to get rid of the evidence while I was away.

What do you think?

I should probably have checked the bike for finger prints ... but it's too much of a hassle, and pretty moot. Bike thefts does not seem to be a priority for the police, I believe they would dismiss the case even if the thief was identified and photographed while stealing it.

Image credits

All photos taken by author and are licenced with cc-by-sa-4.0. GPS positions may be off, I try to correct them when they are way off. All photos (may include photos not used in the post) available at IPFS QmbjZLrArY1YK8d6eA4hwWL39wTStnRL1xt5DzXzYuDvFM

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