Monday, November 16, 2009

Ah, larceny.

So I commented a couple of posts ago about the whole "U-lock Bic pen thing," and a friend's response sent me off onto YouTube looking for the truth. And the truth is, yes you can pick a U-lock with a Bic pen. But, not a straightforward key lock - in this example anyway, it's the tubular lock. The one you get with the circular key (which you can fit a pen body into, once the ink cartridge has been removed, twist, and voilá.) Which isn't to say you can't pick the regular key-lock kind either.

The YouTube click-trance, however, just delivered me directly to the land of the paranoid. From the loud and amateur movie insisting that all you have to do is spraypaint the bike, because a sprayed bike already looks stolen, to the British high-quality film advising, essentially, that you spend 20% of the value of your bike on locks, and even then lock and pin everything before leaving your bike even for a second... well... I started getting pretty freaked about leaving Mike unattended anywhere. I went to catch a movie screening downtown this evening, and outside the main branch of the public library, on a major, well-lit street, in Ottawa of all ridiculously safe cities, I made a point of running my cable (which has a safety rating, according to Kryptonite, of about 1 on a scale of 1 to 14... basically it's a deterrent, the equivalent of tying a length of rope around the bike, as far as any serious bike thieves are concerned) through the frame and both tires.

But I think I'm a victim of the availability heuristic. And a lot of the really paranoid videos were also assuming that your bike costs a couple of thousand dollars. (And the people writing comments were laughing at that fact because, like me, they got their bikes for $20-$50 dollars.)* And that you live somewhere where bike theft is rampant. And that you leave your bike in dark, secluded, out-of-the-way areas. Oh, and did I mention they assume your bike is worth a couple of thousand dollars?

Who even has a bike that costs that much? Other than Lance Armstrong?

Sure - that tubular U-lock trick is a bit of an eye-opener. Although... any lock can be picked. But someone's bound to notice someone sitting near my bike, even in the late evening, on a main street, with a lockpick set. Or someone trying to listen to the tumblers on the combination lock I've got now. Or hauling out the industrial shears to get through the cable. You figure? So as long as he's not all alone in a back alley or an industrial park parking lot, at three A.M., I think my paranoia's a bit unjustified.

*In fact, if memory serves, I got Mike for $50 and a Dave Brubeck ticket.

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