Don’t give a bike thief an easy score

Bike theft is rampant in Chico these days, but there are ways to avoid it

The author, a Chicoan and“fair weather bicycle commuter since 1984,” is general manager at Bacio Catering.

Once upon a time, I used to park my bike anywhere, secured only with a flimsy cable lock. I could walk out of a bar, sometimes late at night, and find it waiting. It never occurred to me that a locked bike might be stolen. Locks symbolized ownership and caution. There were always the trusting souls who propped their bikes against a wall; no lock. A bit risky, perhaps, but nine times out of 10, those bikes would be waiting for them when they returned.

Things have changed drastically, and I found out the hard way. One night last year, I was dining downtown with friends. We all locked our bikes to a designated bike rack, on a well-lit, busy corner. We returned 45 minutes later to find one of the thick cable locks cut, a gaping hole left in place of the stolen bike.

What a terrible way to end an otherwise lovely evening. Luckily, there was a photo of the bike, a serial number, and a police officer who went above and beyond. The bike was recovered a week later, dented and scratched but in one piece; much like our formerly trusting hearts.

Many Chico citizens are fed up, and some have even formed bicycle watch groups. I get more notifications on social media about bike theft than all others combined. Many eyes are watching, and people no longer ignore suspicious activity; they photograph it. Now when I ride my bike, I have to consider where I’m going. Is it in a high-theft area? Will it be dark when I leave? Do I need my hardened steel chain, as well as my U-lock?

Keep your bike safe: Just say “no” to cable locks! Use hardened steel chains combined with U-locks. Please secure your quick-release wheels and seats. Admittedly, this can be a pain, but it also makes it harder for thieves. Be sure to lock everything to a solid, secured object. Avoid parking in dark areas with little foot traffic.

Remember, thieves will usually go for the easiest score.