Bike Index: Bike Registration that Works

by Bernie Hogancamp, PCI #498
Homewood (IL) Police Department (retired)
IPMBA President

You’ve got a bike that you love, and the last thing you want to contemplate is how much someone might want to steal it from you.  You can certainly make it more difficult, lock it up with some serious lock and chain sets, keep it safely locked in your garage, never let it leave your sight…but of course, there are no guarantees of absolute security.  So what else can you do?  Create a method for better tracking stolen bikes?  Well, a bike lover from Portland did just that.

After having five of his bikes stolen, Bryan Hance created StolenBicycleRegistry.com in 2005.  The first week it was live he recovered a bike…and realized recovering bikes was really fun.   Independently, Seth Herr created a bike index because he was a bike mechanic and wanted to be able to register his clients’ bikes as a service to them.

They joined forces in 2014 and as of mid-2016, bikeindex.org, with a part-time staff of five, has registered 96,005 bikes and recovered 3,388 stolen bikes, all at no cost to cyclists. 

There are other free bike registries available, and Bike Index suggests that you use more than one, but they assert that theirs is the first to make ease of index search a primary mission.  As a result, they have assisted in the recovery of thousands of stolen bikes and continue to do so.

I just signed up to their free site and will be tackling the task of getting my bikes registered promptly.  You should consider doing the same thing with your own bikes. 

You should also encourage your department to actively promote bike registration as a means of combating bike theft and reduce the number of unclaimed bikes.  The Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, and Bend Police Departments, amongst others, have partnered with Bike Index as part of their effort to reduce bike thefts through education, awareness and enforcement.

Some of the other bike registries worth a look are:

While registering your bike will not prevent your bike from being stolen, it can improve the chances that you will see it again.  The bigger the registration database gets, the better it can work…and even a slim chance is certainly better than none.

Bernie retired after a 30-year career with the Homewood Police Dept., having served in many positions including field training officer, in-house instructor, tactical officer, detective, detective supervisor, tactical supervisor and training coordinator.  He became an IPMBA Police Cyclist in 1993 and an IPMBA Instructor in 2001 at the IPMBA Conference in Cincinnati.  He has been a conference instructor since 2003.  He also teaches a variety of subjects for Northeast Multi-Regional Training (NEMRT), and has instructed at the ILEETA conference. He currently serves as President on the IPMBA Board of Directors.  He can be reached at sgtbernie@live.com

(c) 2016 IPMBA.  This review appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of IPMBA News.

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