Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 3:49 pm

Let's face it. Burning Man supports bicycle theft. Sure, they tell you in the guide to lock your bike, but isn't that like telling a woman to stop wearing sexy cloths unless she wants to be raped? And it is clear that many people who attend just don't understand that it's wrong to take any bike they see. I heard several new "Burners" in 2011 declare that they heard any green or unlocked bike is free for the taking. This is unacceptable. Theft is now ingrained in the culture and Burning Man management is to blame for permitting it.

We all have all known someone who has had a bike stolen at Burning Man. This year I had another one stolen even though I had locked it religiously for ever moment accept the five minutes I spent on a trampoline. Some bold piece of trash stole from me while while I was right there! This has been going on for years and it is becoming increasingly common. This should not be allowed to persist.

The bad thing is a bike is something you can't really do without at Burning Man and expect to enjoy the same experience. It's like stealing a horse in the old west. You leave a person stranded. You take not only the bike, but also the other person's Burning Man experience. And when a person is robbed of that experience, there is a strong and vengeful temptation to recover it in the same way it was lost. A person who would otherwise never have considered taking something from another has now become a thief. And the culture of theft grows.

No problem is worth pointing out unless it comes with a solution; so here's mine. Burning Man has to make it crystal clear that theft of any kind and specifically bicycle theft is contrary to Burning Man culture and it will not be tolerated! The most important thing is to get this idea out of people's heads that it is okay to just pick up any unlocked bike you see because you don't feel like walking to the next camp. Moreover, my honest opinion is that anyone who is caught stealing a bike at Burning Man should be banned for life from the event. Anyone who would steal adds nothing to the positive culture upon which Burning Man was founded.

Secondly, Burning Man should work with local police agencies in conducting bicycle theft stings. I know this idea may be wildly unpopular, but hear me out. Law enforcement has earned a reputation of being a bit overzealous at Burning Man. Most of this stems from their propensity to focus on things that are not threats and harass people that are causing no trouble. But if stings were conducted by leaving decoy bikes around (perhaps with donated GPS trackers), they would be addressing a problem we all know exists, and dealing only with people who have actually broken the law. It seems like a positive outreach that might improve Burning Man's relationship with law enforcement.

I'd really love to hear any other ideas on how to mitigate this problem. I'm my opinion it's gotten to the point where bicycle theft is so common that it's taking away from the experience. Something has to be done, and Burning Man has to do it. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby junglesmacks » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:03 pm

:roll:
Savannah wrote:It sounds freaky & wrong, so you need to do it.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:19 pm

Thievery isn't cool anywhere.

I would recommend creating a quirky sock puppet with a name that identifies the issue, starting a group, recruiting like minded individuals, give yourselves a catchy name, and do something about it.

And maybe create a spiffy logo and offer patches.

Maybe something like the:

The Bike Mafia
BRC Bicycle Watch
The United Bicycle Front

Just a thought.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:27 pm

Not a bad idea. Perhaps we could dress up like bicycles. And then if someone in our group is abducted, we could spring to life shouting "Ah ha! I'm really a person!!!" Imagine their shock.
Last edited by The Drifter on Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Elderberry » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:31 pm

I think we already had that thread...some pretty creative ideas were spawned if memory serves. Do a search.

I'd be all for law enforcement doing stings on bicycle theft. Might get some of their focus off of drug stings, which essentially harm no one.
MOOP_Czar wrote:Thievery isn't cool anywhere.

I would recommend creating a quirky sock puppet with a name that identifies the issue, starting a group, recruiting like minded individuals, give yourselves a catchy name, and do something about it.

And maybe create a spiffy logo and offer patches.

Maybe something like the:

The Bike Mafia
BRC Bicycle Watch
The United Bicycle Front

Just a thought.
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Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:45 pm

Thanks jkisha for the heads up! I'll look up that discussion so I'm not being redundant. Do you know if anything from that conversation was ever implemented or passed on to the right people?

I couldn't agree more about the overly ambitious attempts by law enforcement to find drugs. In my opinion drugs are not that big of a problem at Burning Man compared to other places. The focus of law enforcement should be on things that are a problem and do hurt people rather than something nobody cares about. I also don't like how LE seems to assume that all Burners use drugs.

If their attention could be directed to something more productive, it would help alleviate the adversarial relationship Burners have with LE.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:02 pm

The Drifter wrote:Not a bad idea. Perhaps we could dress up like bicycles. And then if someone in our group is abducted, we could spring to life shouting "Ah ha! I'm really a person!!!" Imagine their shock.


While I do like this idea,

I feel implementation would be difficult.

I was actuallythinking about spreading awareness.

Getting LEOs involved=good.

I was not clear and apologize.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:32 pm

Oh I know, I was just having a little fun. Actually I really like your idea and will probably do it! Any small statement I could make to improve an overlooked part of Burning Man cultural evolution is something I'm on-board with.

Thank you very much for the productive feedback!
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Prometheus » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:43 pm

A bike theft camp might bring some awareness. Could also do a bootleg sting operation, with GPS-tracked bikes, and the camp's "bike police" hunting down the perpetrators. Might get the Rangers and LE focused on the issue, if only to avoid the problems they see with the camp. Their lack of doing the most basic protection is the cause of the camp.

One problem I see is proof of ownership. Should I keep my WalMart receipt and photo ID (as if I would look like it) with me at all times? Maybe a bike BOrg registration plan might be better, with some sort of permanent marking or use of the bike s/n (if they have one). Put a little ID tag on the registered bike, too, with the owners pic. Purely optional, but could focus the Rangers on theft of registered bikes.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:52 pm

A gifting idea to consider might be dog tags for bikes. The owner's name could be engraved on a tab and subsequently attached to the bike.

I guess it could only be offered early in the week....
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Prometheus » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:55 pm

...Which would keep the honest people honest, and perhaps discourage casual theft, or encourage carrying a Leatherman to clip off ID tags.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:11 pm

I don't know if greeters have enough time to add something about bikes to the spiel about the potties, but I think gate and greeters are the only places on playa that everyone does.


Okay, almost everyone...
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Packoderm » Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:38 pm

The only thing I can think of that would get law enforcement's interest is if there was a $750 fine for bike theft. Perhaps BMORG could kick in a percentage of the ticket revenues to pay LEOs to consider theft protection as a part of their job. I would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement to counter bike and camp item theft. I am willing to supply them with a few decoy bikes and a broken generator or two.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby trilobyte » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:08 pm

I'm sorry that you keep forgetting to lock your bike up and get your bike stolen, but I hardly think that an organization that issues numerous warnings and cautions to lock one's bike can be considered promoting bicycle theft.

I do know people who've lost bikes. Like you, they all lost them after leaving them somewhere unlocked. It's unfortunate, but like you they presented a 'target of opportunity' to someone who's less likely a career bike thief and more likely someone who was too lazy to walk home (or wherever it was they left their own bike). It would be absolutely awesome if people just stopped doing that, and we could all leave our bikes unattended/unlocked anywhere all week. Until that day comes, get better at locking up your bike.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Packoderm » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:19 pm

trilobyte wrote:I'm sorry that you keep forgetting to lock your bike up and get your bike stolen, but I hardly think that an organization that issues numerous warnings and cautions to lock one's bike can be considered promoting bicycle theft.

I do know people who've lost bikes. Like you, they all lost them after leaving them somewhere unlocked. It's unfortunate, but like you they presented a 'target of opportunity' to someone who's less likely a career bike thief and more likely someone who was too lazy to walk home (or wherever it was they left their own bike). It would be absolutely awesome if people just stopped doing that, and we could all leave our bikes unattended/unlocked anywhere all week. Until that day comes, get better at locking up your bike.


You've got to admit he has a point. I ALWAYS locked my bike. Every time I did, it felt like a little statement of "Yep, things are shitty around here just like everywhere." Only one of our camp's stolen bikes this year was locked. All the rest were unlocked. Still, I like the idea of law enforcement doing bike theft stings if only to give the impression that they provide some service to the people of BRC other than to protect us from marijuana smoke.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Kinetik V » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:46 pm

The Drifter wrote:Let's face it. Burning Man supports bicycle theft.


I call BULLSHIT.

Trust God but Tie Your Camel
There was once a man who was on his way back home from market with his camel and, as he’d
had a good day, he decided to stop at a mosque along the road and offer his thanks to God.
He left his camel outside and went in with his prayer mat and spent several hours offering thanks
to Allah, praying and promising that he’d be a good Muslim in the future, help the poor and be
an upstanding pillar of his community.
When he emerged it was already dark and lo and behold – his camel was gone!
He immediately flew into a violent temper and shook his fist at the sky, yelling:
“You traitor, Allah! How could you do this to me? I put all my trust in you and then you go and
stab me in the back like this!”
A passing sufi dervish heard the man yelling and chuckled to himself.
“Listen,” he said, “Trust God but, you know, tie up your camel.”

This is the classic answer for those who believe that their faith alone will carry them through
life. Innocence can indeed be a valuable shield but there are basic measures that have to be
taken just as a matter of common sense. If you leave the jar of honey open by morning it may be
full of ants. No amount of belief is going to change the basic facts of living in this world.


Burning Man warns you, they encourage you to decorate your bike to make it unique, they've preached this over and over for years. I'm sorry you want to give people a pass on personal responsibility but I think someone needs to read the 10 principles. I've lost 2 expensive bikes at Burning Man and yeah at first I was like the fucking Rangers or the fucking cops didn't do this or didn't want to help. And then I come back to the 10 Principles and this one in particular:

Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

My take on that one now...it's not up to anyone else to protect my shit but me. The ORG warned me, the eplaya has hundreds of posts on it, it's in the JRS and survival guide...what the fuck else do you want a big ass neon sign on the way to Gate warning you too? Do you expect Greeters to hand out free bike locks next?

Lock your fucking bikes, quit your fucking bitching, stay calm and carry on.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Elliot » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:50 pm

jkisha wrote:I think we already had that thread...some pretty creative ideas were spawned if memory serves. Do a search.


Yes, we have had several such threads. At the top of the list is probably the one Gyre started a couple of years ago, which inspired me to build several Bait Bikes which looked mostly normal but could not be ridden far. Regrettably, we never got together to run any stings, but maybe in 2012.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:53 pm

Kinetic V wrote:Lock your fucking bikes, quit your fucking bitching, stay calm and carry on.


Sooo....

What you are saying is...

My plans to pack the frame with plastique explosives and installing a blasting cap attatched to Biometric handlebars is over thinking the issue?
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Kinetik V » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:03 pm

MOOP_Czar wrote:
Kinetic V wrote:Lock your fucking bikes, quit your fucking bitching, stay calm and carry on.


Sooo....

What you are saying is...

My plans to pack the frame with plastique explosives and installing a blasting cap attatched to Biometric handlebars is over thinking the issue?


I admit that did get me to smiling....
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:06 pm

Kinetic V wrote:
MOOP_Czar wrote:
Kinetic V wrote:Lock your fucking bikes, quit your fucking bitching, stay calm and carry on.


Sooo....

What you are saying is...

My plans to pack the frame with plastique explosives and installing a blasting cap attatched to Biometric handlebars is over thinking the issue?


I admit that did get me to smiling....


My job here is done....
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:14 pm

Packoderm wrote:The only thing I can think of that would get law enforcement's interest is if there was a $750 fine for bike theft. Perhaps BMORG could kick in a percentage of the ticket revenues to pay LEOs to consider theft protection as a part of their job. I would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement to counter bike and camp item theft. I am willing to supply them with a few decoy bikes and a broken generator or two.


This is a wonderful and productive idea! I too am willing to put my time and money where my mouth is. If BOrg and law enforcement were willing to with with us, I would volunteer in any way they deemed productive.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Elliot » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:16 pm

MOOP_Czar wrote:My plans to pack the frame with plastique explosives and installing a blasting cap attatched to Biometric handlebars is over thinking the issue?


Nawwwwww. But the one I started on would have a string of firecrackers, lit by a 38 Special primer under the saddle. :twisted:
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby Bob » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:24 pm

The Drifter wrote:Let's face it. Burning Man supports bicycle theft.....

<snip>


I got where you lost your bike due to not locking it up, but I missed where you told us your experience with the yellow bike program or cleaning up the bike pile post-event.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:25 pm

Elliot wrote:
MOOP_Czar wrote:My plans to pack the frame with plastique explosives and installing a blasting cap attatched to Biometric handlebars is over thinking the issue?


Nawwwwww. But the one I started on would have a string of firecrackers, lit by a 38 Special primer under the saddle. :twisted:


Ooooo.... Testicular homicide....
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:31 pm

Packoderm wrote:
trilobyte wrote:I'm sorry that you keep forgetting to lock your bike up and get your bike stolen, but I hardly think that an organization that issues numerous warnings and cautions to lock one's bike can be considered promoting bicycle theft.

I do know people who've lost bikes. Like you, they all lost them after leaving them somewhere unlocked. It's unfortunate, but like you they presented a 'target of opportunity' to someone who's less likely a career bike thief and more likely someone who was too lazy to walk home (or wherever it was they left their own bike). It would be absolutely awesome if people just stopped doing that, and we could all leave our bikes unattended/unlocked anywhere all week. Until that day comes, get better at locking up your bike.


You've got to admit he has a point. I ALWAYS locked my bike. Every time I did, it felt like a little statement of "Yep, things are shitty around here just like everywhere." Only one of our camp's stolen bikes this year was locked. All the rest were unlocked. Still, I like the idea of law enforcement doing bike theft stings if only to give the impression that they provide some service to the people of BRC other than to protect us from marijuana smoke.


That's the point exactly. Use the police to support a real and prevalent crime rather than sniffing everyone's van for pot. What reasonable Burner supports theft? Doing this would help to end the adversarial relationship with LE by making them a productive part of the community.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:37 pm

My thing is MOOP.

I am trying to assemble a Brigade of MOOP nazis to be loud and boisterous about the issue. Bullhorns, a "unit patch', etc.

Create something that spreads awareness.

Instead of being in a situation where you see something suspicious, investigate and strike up a conversation with the potential offender. If they are innocent, they will fall in with the gag. If they are guilty, they may think twice about offending.

I am finally feeling the effect of alchohol.

So if I am rambling.

Blame the toxic nature of my blood.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:40 pm

Bob wrote:
The Drifter wrote:Let's face it. Burning Man supports bicycle theft.....

<snip>


I got where you lost your bike due to not locking it up, but I missed where you told us your experience with the yellow bike program or cleaning up the bike pile post-event.


I've provided considerably more to Burning Man over the last 10 years than all but a very small handful of people. People like you who attack me for wanting to change a culture that shrugs it's shoulders over theft makes me reconsider that contribution.
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby MOOP_Czar » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:44 pm

The Drifter wrote:
Bob wrote:
The Drifter wrote:Let's face it. Burning Man supports bicycle theft.....

<snip>


I got where you lost your bike due to not locking it up, but I missed where you told us your experience with the yellow bike program or cleaning up the bike pile post-event.


I've provided considerably more to Burning Man over the last 10 years than all but a very small handful of people. People like you who attack me for wanting to change a culture that shrugs it's shoulders over theft makes me reconsider that contribution.


Oh fuck....

Let's not do burnier than thou...

I was just going to get more alchohol and I hate missing shit...
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 8:45 pm

Elliot wrote:
jkisha wrote:I think we already had that thread...some pretty creative ideas were spawned if memory serves. Do a search.


Yes, we have had several such threads. At the top of the list is probably the one Gyre started a couple of years ago, which inspired me to build several Bait Bikes which looked mostly normal but could not be ridden far. Regrettably, we never got together to run any stings, but maybe in 2012.


Thank you for your contribution and your willingness to do more. People like you are what makes Burning Man great!
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Re: Stop Burning Man's Culture of Bicycle Thievery!!!

Postby The Drifter » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:02 pm

MOOP_Czar wrote:
I've provided considerably more to Burning Man over the last 10 years than all but a very small handful of people. People like you who attack me for wanting to change a culture that shrugs it's shoulders over theft makes me reconsider that contribution.

Oh fuck....

Let's not do burnier than thou...

I was just going to get more alchohol and I hate missing shit...


My apologies. I take back what I said. It was just that a few of the people who responded were so hostile, so closed-minded, and so rude that I let my emotions get the better of me.

On your correlation to MOOP, I like it! But it is worth noting that Burning Man propagates heavily against activities that adversely affect them. MOOP is one example of that. The BLM makes BOrg clean everything up afterward, so you see and hear about it everywhere. As a result the community supports MOOP NAZIs and I would never get the backlash about an anti-MOOP post like I did with this one. The community is on-board due to the efforts of BOrg, and they quickly educate Burning Man virgins who are not so careful.

However on issues such as theft that affect the individual, they take a "your on your own" attitude. And as you can see, many people follow this philosophy like lemmings. But it doesn't make it right. As Burning Man grows, the community must begin to protect it's citizens by changing small parts of the culture. We can all help in small ways, but only BOrg has the power to make that change to the community as a whole.
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