Innovative insights to prevent bike theft, DUI hit-and-run fire captain found drunk behind bars

There’s no shortage of advice on how to keep your bike from being stolen.

But it’s rare that someone offers insight that goes much beyond using a U-lock, locking your rear triangle or parking in a public place where your bike can be seen.

That’s why I was surprised when I was forwarded an email written by cyclist and former LAPD officer Craig White.

In it, White was responding to a recent rash of bikes stolen from garages on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. And offering advice that goes far beyond anything I’ve encountered before.

For instance, he points out that many roll-up garage doors have windows at the top. The middle window can be punched out, providing easy access to the door mechanism and allowing thieves to reach inside and release the door so it can be pulled up. And then they’re free to walk right in — and right out with your bike.

The solution? Simply use a zip tie to secure the door mechanism so it can’t be pulled down and released.

Another prevention tool he suggests is to get an inexpensive hotel door alarm that alerts you if someone tries to enter your room. And hang it on an inconspicuous place on your bike, so it will sound if someone tries to move it, alerting you and possibly scaring the thief away.

It’s a cheap enough solution that I intend to get one and carry it with me for when I have to lock up my bike.

And of course, using a cable lock to secure your bike even when you park it inside.

After all, every extra bit of security helps.

Then there’s the question of how thieves know which bikes to steal, and which homes have bikes worth stealing.

White points the finger at the Garmin on your handlebars. He’s heard reports that thieves can track your GPS signal when they spot you riding and follow that signal to your home. Or hack your Stava or Garmin account to figure out where you live.

Likely? Maybe not.

Possible? Absolutely.

The simple solution is to make sure the info on your accounts is not public.

He also adds a suggestion I’ve made a number of times. Make sure you’ve recorded your serial number in a secure place — and keep a current photo of your bike the way it looks now, especially if you’ve made any changes recently.

And I’d take if a step further by encouraging you to register your bike. Bike Shepherd offers free lifetime registration, with tamperproof ID stickers available at REI for just $15.

Or you could just do what I’ve done for the last few decades, by keeping your bike securely inside your home — not your garage — when you’re not riding. And always keeping it within reach when you are.

Of course, that’s not always practical if you’re using your bike for transportation.

Which is why I now own a U-lock the size of a small SUV.

Thanks to my friends at GEKLaw for the heads-up.

……..

Now this is just sad. If not pathetic.

Not too long ago, we were criticizing the apparent slap on the wrist given former Long Beach fire caption John David Hines.

Now it’s looking like he is a very sick man. And on his way to a long stint in state prison.

As you may recall, Hines was convicted for the drunken hit-and-run that severely injured cyclist Jeffrey Gordon in Seal Beach last April 1st, after spending the entire morning drinking in a Long Beach bar. He was arrested after witnesses followed him to his home, where police found him wearing urine-soaked pants, with a blood alcohol level of .24 — two hours after he left the bar.

Yet despite pleading guilty to driving under the influence, driving with a blood alcohol level in excess of .08, and hit-and-run, as well as sentencing enhancements for having a BAC over .20 and causing great bodily injury, he received just one year in the relatively plush pay-to-stay city jail in Huntington Beach.

A jail that actually lied — repeatedly — about his presence when our anonymous source called to confirm that he was staying there, I might add.

The judge suspended a much tougher sentence of five in state prison on the condition that Hines keep his nose clean.

He didn’t.

Last week, his jailers noticed Hines wobbling. And discovered he had a BAC of .22 — behind bars. And that he got the booze by filtering liquid hand sanitizer through salt to filter out the alcohol.

Now there’s a party trick for you.

And that was after a stint in rehab.

He’s now locked up in county jail, pending a probation hearing scheduled for March 16th.

That anonymous source also reports that Hines EMT certification has been revoked, along with his ambulance driver’s certificate. And his Class C driver’s license has been suspended until at least April.

It’s not often that I pity a drunk driver. Especially not one who sped off and left innocent victim — the kind he devoted his career to saving — bleeding in the street.

But Hines’s clearly has a serious problem.

Yes, he deserves prison. But he also needs help.

Desperately.

Thanks to Jim Lyle for the tip.

……..

What should we think about an unarmed man getting shot by Sheriff’s deputies after getting stopped while riding his bike?

Deputies initially attempted to stop 26-year old Christian Cobian for not having a headlight on his bike late Saturday night. He reported responded by dropping his bike and running, then was shot when he reportedly reached into his waistband, making the pursuing officers think he was reaching for a gun.

Maybe it happened exactly that way.

On the other hand, police often have more important things to do than pull over a cyclist for a simple light violation. Which is not to say they never do, but more likely, it was a pretense to stop someone they thought looked suspicious, just as police may pull over a car with a broken tail light as an excuse to look inside.

Or the way some LAPD divisions reportedly used the now repealed bike licensing law as an excuse to stop — some would say harass — bike riders.

The minor traffic violation gives them probable cause to make a traffic stop.

The question is, why did he run?

Most likely, it was because there was a felony narcotics warrant for his arrest. It’s also possible that he might have been holding, though authorities haven’t mentioned any drugs being found on his body or in the immediate area.

And unless they happened to recognize him — which no one has mentioned up to this point — police had no way of knowing he was wanted. Or that he had a record and was on probation for receiving stolen property.

Then there’s the question of why an officer would shoot simply because a suspect reached towards his waist, without determining what he was reaching for first.

Given the current low hung fashions, it’s entirely possible he was just trying to keep his pants from falling down while he ran.

I’m not one to be overly critical of the decisions police have to make in the heat of the moment. Things happen fast, and officers have to make split second decisions that others have the luxury of endlessly analyzing after the fact.

But this one raises a lot of questions.

One of which is whether this should be included in the list of cycling fatalities. My gut reaction is to say no.

Anyone disagree?

Thanks to Erik for the link to the Weekly article.

……..

A study from the Los Angeles County Department of Health shows it will take $40 billion dollars to make the six county region represented by the Southern California Council of Governments (SCAG) safe for cyclists and pedestrians over the next 25 years. The current budget allocates $6 billion — just 1.1% of the total $524.7 billion budget — for biking and walking projects, despite the fact that non-motorized transportation makes up 21% of all trips and 25% of the fatalities in the region.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Biking and Walking has released their new study Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report. Despite a long-held myth that no one walks in L.A., Los Angeles ranks 20th on list of biking and walking cities, and 26th for bike/ped fatalities; California as a whole ranks 19th and 32nd, respectively.

L.A. County takes a tentative first step in fighting the unacceptably high rate of obesity by requiring wider sidewalks and bike parking, while studying other ways to make the county more friendly for the non-motorized.

And Dave Moulton points out the relationship between food diets and road diets.

……..

A couple other quick notes —

Steve Herbert reminds us that new LACBC board member Herbie Huff is a Hollywood star, or Westwood, anyway. Roadblock rides in the King Day parade. Great photos from the recent cyclocross state championships. Maybe women are the real riding experts. Our friend Zeke sends word that Western North Carolina bicyclists are on their way to a new regional bike plan — even if they are dramatically underfunded, like cyclists everywhere. May 9th will mark the first ever National Bike to School Day.

And finally, a Turlock man celebrates his 8oth birthday by riding 103.5 miles.

Seriously, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

4 comments

  1. Zach Fine says:

    >White points the finger at the Garmin on your handlebars. He’s
    >heard reports that thieves can track your GPS signal when they
    >spot you riding…

    This is not even a remotely credible rumor. The Garmin receives signals from satellites, it does not transmit (if it did, battery life would be even worse, perish the thought). You can’t track a gps receiver from a distance any more than you can track someone walking on a different continent who happens to be gazing at the moon or listening to a particular radio station.

    If someone happens to use a garmin on their bike, and then publically posts the gps track to the net along with a description of their fancy bike and instructions on how to open their garage, I expect that could result in a theft. But it’d take a lot of effort on the part of the victim.

  2. Todd says:

    Good anti-stalker tip: Click start/stop on your GPS a block or two from home.

    Strava also has a feature to “hide” your starting point if rides start form home.

  3. Biker395 says:

    “For instance, he points out that many roll-up garage doors have windows at the top. The middle window can be punched out, providing easy access to the door mechanism and allowing thieves to reach inside and release the door so it can be pulled up. And then they’re free to walk right in — and right out with your bike.”

    Wow … that is a GREAT tip. Thanks!

  4. The hotel-door alarm seems an awesome option, but moreso when the bike is on an owner’s property than out on the street since it seems that: 1) the unit can too be triggered falsely (for example if the bike’s locked up at a large rack and accidentally bumped or shifted by another person un/locking a bike), and 2) it can be easily shut off by a thief once it sounds.

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