Ever find your stolen bike?

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Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby SouthernExposure » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:02 am

My camp mate and I both had our bikes stolen from 2 different locations on Wednesday. I kept a vigilant eye open for mine the rest of the week, but to no avail. He volunteered as a lamplighter one night and met someone who identified a bike locked to one of the lampposts as her stolen bike. Ugliness was initiated, but he didn't know what became of the incident as he had to continue on with his tasks that evening.

Have you ever had a bike come up missing on the playa and found it later in the week? What is the ultimate end of the unclaimed bikes that I am sure are scattered all over the playa once the cleanup efforts are completed?

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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby C.f.M. » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:12 am

What I know: DPW and a couple of bike camps collect them to clean up and sell/rent.

The camp on 3, that was loaning out bikes all week, is still in Gerlach cleaning them all up to take back home. But I'm pretty sure they weren't taking any new ones back (that weren't directly donated). But yeah, there are people who take the orphans and put them to use.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby The CO » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:22 am

Some years ago, we had a bike stolen from camp. Happily, it was found by another campmate 2 days later and recovered.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Bob » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:35 am

Leaving a description and contact info with the BR Rangers before you left the event would have made sense.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby C.f.M. » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:41 am

Bob wrote:Leaving a description and contact info with the BR Rangers before you left the event would have made sense.


Leaving it with DPW would make more sense, as they're the ones directly involved in bike clean-up. Rangers are not.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Sep 11, 2011 10:56 am

It's unlikely that the person who took the report would be the one to handle the bike later. I don't know how the features of any particular bike are communicated to the clean-up crew, but I'm betting there's just too many for any one person to keep in his head.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Packoderm » Sun Sep 11, 2011 11:01 am

We had reports of bikes stolen from camp, but there were a lot of bikes left to load in the truck when at cleanup time. Maybe they were just misplaced for a while. We did have one bike stolen from the playa which was never recovered. Next time, we'll just bring about 20% more bikes than we need and not bother keeping count of thefts. I'll work on installing racks so that somebody can give another camp mate a ride back to camp in case their bike disappears. We can consider them silently solicited gifts. I've mellowed out considerably since I wrote that piece about beating up, tying down, doing Evel Knievel jumps over the belly, and lighting a bike thief on fire.

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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Marscrumbs » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:12 pm

I had a bike stolen from Centercamp after critical tits. It was a nice mountain bike. I stayrd till tuesday and never saw it again. This was no joy riders. Bike thieves should be lynched!
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby essjay » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:27 pm

Bike theft is a crime of opportunity at BM. Your bike wasn't stolen because it was "nice" - it was stolen because it was there. Buy a $5 cable lock and you will be fine. I even kept my combination tag on the lock so that I wouldn't forget the combo at sunrise after a long night. The lock alone makes the thieves move on to another target. I agree it sucks and it shouldn't happen and thieving burners should be banned for life - but it is easy to prevent.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby swampdog » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:40 pm

I lost a bike due to carelessness. I left it near the man, carefully triangulated the position and thought, "it's decorated enough and beat up enough to not be anyone's first choice to take, and I'll remember exactly where I put it". At least one of those proved to not be true. I hope whoever took my bike figured out how to switch on the el-wire to enjoy it to its best potential. What I'll probably miss most is the cushy gel seat pad.

C'est la vie.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby ibdave » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:44 pm

2001 after I chased the little fucker down... "I've never seen this kind of bike before and just wanted to try it out..." I go what, a single speed??? He also took off all my personal stuff... 13-14 yr old... Back then the thought of kicking his ass or turn over to leos didn't accrue to us.. The kid was out on sunday looking for abandoned bikes to take home... :x :shock: :roll:
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Marscrumbs » Sun Sep 11, 2011 12:51 pm

I agree that I did the minimum to protect this bike. This was a left over bike last year, picked up after the event Weds by a friend and gifted to me in the spring. So my first additude was "What the heck, one less thing to drag home." And I had my primary ride, my art tricycle. But this is still growing criminal behavior at BM! And I became more pissed off as I thought about it.

It is inspiring of my next year art project of a fleet of non leathal booby trapped bikes. 30 second delay screaming alarms, flashing lights, "Bike thief! Bike thief!" followed by an explosion of undeletable dye markers from under the seat. I'm really excited fantacizing about this.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby dragonpilot » Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:26 pm

If I lose anything at Burning Man (or any place else for that matter) it's usually my own damn fault for not taking proper precautions to safeguard my stuff. If it's my bike I lock it up ANYTIME I'm not on it...even when I park it at the porta pots...especially when I'm at the porta pots! That's where 2 of my former campmates had their bikes stolen.

So, as many of us have discovered...the hard way...as great and unique an event that Burning Man is, it's not some big happy hippy kumbya love fest. There's ass hats in the crowd...lurking...waiting for the opportune moment to take your stuff
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby AntiM » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:39 pm

Ranger Genius had his bike stolen one year, and found it in front of a theme camp down the street from us the next year. He was positive it was his bike, still had his rack and such on it, and the Navy household goods inventory sticker! He told the people sitting there he was taking his stolen bike back, removed the few things which the new rider had added, and rode off one it. Still had the key to the lock, which was still wrapped around the frame.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby MrMullen » Sun Sep 11, 2011 7:53 pm

On Monday night at The Man, I saw a bike thief pulled off a bike he was stealing as he was steal it. The bike thief was just lazy and grabbing what ever was sitting there. The guy who bike who was almost stolen was not happy about it and almost beat the crap out of the guy.

Both of them were jerk offs. The bike thief for stealing and the "victim" for not locking his bike.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Bob » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:52 pm

C.f.M. wrote:
Bob wrote:Leaving a description and contact info with the BR Rangers before you left the event would have made sense.

Leaving it with DPW would make more sense, as they're the ones directly involved in bike clean-up. Rangers are not.


Not in DPW's job description to talk to you during the event. Rangers have offices with people happy to talk to you. Three of them, at least. With pencils and papers -- that is, assuming you didn't find the bike in the pile at Playa Info. But stolen bikes get left everywhere and may not make it to the pile by the time Burning Man is over.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby BBadger » Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:24 am

MrMullen wrote:Both of them were jerk offs. The bike thief for stealing and the "victim" for not locking his bike.


I don't understand this flawed logic you're on about. I place the blame squarely on the thief, as without the presence of thieves, there would not be need for the "victims" to lock up bikes. Do you also have the same mentality for people who do not lock their doors? Or if the person didn't use a "big enough" lock that couldn't be broken? I also wish that thief did get his ass handed to him as a nice memento to take home and think about, because no doubt that criminal will try it again.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Bob » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:23 am

Re: the bike pile (cite):

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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby ygmir » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:34 am

BBadger wrote:
MrMullen wrote:Both of them were jerk offs. The bike thief for stealing and the "victim" for not locking his bike.


I don't understand this flawed logic you're on about. I place the blame squarely on the thief, as without the presence of thieves, there would not be need for the "victims" to lock up bikes. Do you also have the same mentality for people who do not lock their doors? Or if the person didn't use a "big enough" lock that couldn't be broken? I also wish that thief did get his ass handed to him as a nice memento to take home and think about, because no doubt that criminal will try it again.


ain't that the truth, BBadger.........so many want to blame a victim, so as to excuse some reprobate some of the responsibility for nefarious acts.

"ooohh, it's not all his fault for taking it, you should have locked it better"....

fuck that.
a thief, is just that. If it's not yours, and you take it purposely (I've seen confusion about things that look alike, like chairs and bikes at times), you're a thief. You don't need a sign, or warning, or classes.
you need an ass kickin.

And, "need" is no excuse:
"but I was hungry, I need to steal it, to sell for food"......nope. Perhaps, if you asked, someone would give you something, maybe not. But, take it, and, you're on you're own............
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby A Jester » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:45 am

It might help to have a tag with your contact info on it. Your name, campsite, maybe email address.

I don't think the Rangers can do much for stolen bikes. I'm pretty sure they will try to protect people but not property. I also doubt the DPW or LE would be much help. It's such a huge issue that there would have to be a totally separate department for it.

It's locks or bike roulette, IMO.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby twardry1 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:51 am

YES! On our first night on the playa, we were on a whirlwind tour. After months of planning and a truly "adventurous" journey we had finally made it!!! We had 15 virgins in our camp and they wanted to see everything IMMEDIATELY! So after the eclipse we hit spot after spot, scanning the air for the best beats, meeting and greeting all of the others that came home. It was MAGIC! After a few hours, we decided to chill a little so we hopped on a art car. Now, I tend to be cautious anywhere I am and I had the thought "..my bike is still over there" I felt a little reluctance especially because on the mad dash to hit the playa I'd left my lock in camp. However, I was where I wanted to be and it was "faux" chained to the other bikes. Anyhow a few hours later dragged my ass back and SURPRISE! No bike. I looked around for awhile and no dice. Man was I bummed, 4 burns, 3 of them organizing a camp of 30 (trucks,food, personalities,terrified virgins,money) and I leave my bike unlocked!! :?
So checked again next morning, same thing. Now one thing I had stressed to our virgins was the fact that when you wanted or needed something on the playa all you have to do is "will" it to yourself. Acknowledge it, ask for it and let it go! Ice cream, pizza, massages, situations whatever. So they kept saying "Well, why don't you Just will it to yourself", I SO wanted to strangle someone!!! :lol: Long story short (too late! HAHAHA) I tried to let it go, but I couldn't help but keep an eye out for it which just keep feeding the attachment. Finally, the last day comes. I say to myself "I'm gonna go back to where I left it and it is going to be there!" and on my way there I let go of it as hard as I could (HAHAHAHAH!) and lo and behold when I get there.......it ain't there! "F*ck.." I thought on the way back to camp "...it didn't work." :( So we pack up, do our moop sweep and head out. Long glorious burn it was. Thank goodness the exodus was SOOOOO long because it gave us sometime to rest. For about 3 hours, I was sitting in the passenger side nodding off into bits of fitful sleep getting ready for my shift when suddenly right out of jolt (ya know when you jolt awake from falling asleep) I look over and 2 lanes away I SEE MY BIKE!!! I knew it was mine because I had plastic bell that broke off when we packed them in the truck and I left rubber ball part connected! So I hopped out made my way over, knocked on the window. And with the post burn glow the guy rolls down his window, I let him know in a firm, loving way that that was my bike on the back of his car and thanked him for bringing it back to me, and without hesitation walked to the back and unhooked my bike. For the rest of the exodus I rode my bike around the open playa, till our truck reached the front, thanking the universe for such a wonderful gift!
I so love the playa!!!!
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby BBadger » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:02 pm

ygmir wrote:And, "need" is no excuse:
"but I was hungry, I need to steal it, to sell for food"......nope. Perhaps, if you asked, someone would give you something, maybe not. But, take it, and, you're on you're own............


Exactly! It seems that a significant number of people have a certain mental defect that causes them to extend this notion of "gifting" to "free taking," as if BRC were a land of plenty for all.

twardry1 wrote:For about 3 hours, I was sitting in the passenger side nodding off into bits of fitful sleep getting ready for my shift when suddenly right out of jolt (ya know when you jolt awake from falling asleep) I look over and 2 lanes away I SEE MY BIKE!!! I knew it was mine because I had plastic bell that broke off when we packed them in the truck and I left rubber ball part connected! So I hopped out made my way over, knocked on the window. And with the post burn glow the guy rolls down his window, I let him know in a firm, loving way that that was my bike on the back of his car and thanked him for bringing it back to me, and without hesitation walked to the back and unhooked my bike. For the rest of the exodus I rode my bike around the open playa, till our truck reached the front, thanking the universe for such a wonderful gift!
I so love the playa!!!!


I'm not following your understanding of events here... It's not like that man brought your bike back to you. Rather it was a coincidence that he happened to be leaving with your bike and you were there to notice it.

Did you ever ask why he had your bike in the back of his truck? Because I'd really have to wonder if he, or some campmate of his, stole that bike and took it back to camp.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby trilobyte » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:18 pm

Great thread - giving it a nudge to 'Experiences At Burning Man' since I think that's a better fit.

I know of many who have lost bikes, and only one who ever re-connected with one. But that was on the playa, the bike had been 'borrowed' by a drunk/high neighbor the day before, who nonchalantly pedaled it back over after his playa adventures no longer called for it. Uh, thanks?

Absolutely, put your name, your camp name, and your camp's location on the playa on your ride (slaps self on forehead for forgetting to do that). You may even want to include some basic default world contact info as well (email addy or phone number plus city, or something like that). The best thing, of course, would be prevention. Get the cheapest bike lock you can find, and whenever you're out at a public space (sound camp, center camp, etc) run the chain through your tires. You don't even need to lock it to anything (and certainly not to art or parked art cars), just something so the bike isn't ridable. While I'm sure your bike is awesome, playa bike thieves are mostly just lazy/drunk/high people looking for an easy ride.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby twardry1 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:04 pm

YEAH! Been reading the forums for years and my first response!!! Thanks Badger!
Now...you're right. The MAN didn't bring jack to me. In fact by the time this all happened, the MAN was already in ashes. From very early on I've never placed any real significance in the MAN. It's just a symbol, in which we gather around. The perfect illustration of this is when when Larry burned it (the man) down that Monday... they simply grabbed some wood and threw another one up! No fuss, no muss!. They burned it like always and... all hell broke loose, the signs came down, the practical people left, memories were made..blah,blah,blah. The same exact thing that always happened. Can't imagine them throwing up another temple like that...SCREECHHH! (that's the sound of me dragging my soapbox up)...I believe in a power greater than myself and in my life I have had so many coincidences happen to me that were specific to me and unmistakable to me that it feels at times when I'm open that I am part of a flow..so to speak :roll: that's why I love playa, whenever I am there I feel and see this flow so intensely, I actually have to hide out at HeeBee's camp daily to take it all in!
So..you're right..the man brought nothing back to me. It WAS a coinky dink...can't help but notice though, I had truly let go of it and the fact that through the heat, confusion, fatigue and THOUSANDS of people with THOUSANDS of bikes all covered in dust and unrecognizable, in my own sleepy haze I JUST happened to lock eyes on it on the back of car two lanes away, among hundreds of cars...love that flow!! SCREEEECHHHH (...pushing the box back).

And No, I did not ask. Frankly I could've cared less how or why my bike wound up on the back of his car. Whether it was "borrowed", stolen, by whom, when, for whatever the reason. Actually I would've asked.... but he didn't bother to get out...he knew. :D
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Dark Gnome » Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:55 pm

2011 was my 15th year. In all my past burns, I had never locked or labeled my bike, and never had an issue. On Tuesday of this year, I spontaneously had the urge to use a roll of white duct tape and a Sharpie to tag my bike with my camp name and address. The next morning, I awoke to find my bike missing. I was bummed because it was a cool beach cruiser, but wasn't too beat up over the ordeal since I brought an art car and knew I'd get around fine. A couple hours later, a guy shows up with my bike and a fantastic story about how a drunken douchebag rode into their camp without any of his wits about him. After some incoherent conversation and attempts to steer Drunk Bike Thief on his way to recovery (water and snacks), Drunk Bike Thief vomited in their camp (an observant campmate was ready with a bucket) and started to pass out in the sun. Drunk Bike Thief was in such bad shape that they had to call for the meds to haul him away.

I gave the guy that returned my bike a beer and thanked him profusely. His response: "It's a good thing you tagged your bike... smart man!"

I was a LUCKY man. Later in the day, I grabbed the duct tape and Sharpie and tagged all my other campmates' bikes. I'm definitely doing that from now on, and will start locking it as well.

As mentioned, I'm sure it was more opportunity than malevolence, but I certainly learned my lesson.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby A Jester » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:12 am

A bit of advice on locking your bike up to itself:

If it might need to be moved (like you're at a big burn, or you aren't sure you're leaving it in a good spot) lock the front wheel. no one will be able to ride away on it, but they will be able to lift the front wheel off the ground and move it. (Alternatively, always make sure you're not parking your bike in the street.)

If you know it shouldn't be moved (you're at your own camp or something) lock the back wheel. Because of the way bikes are balanced, and because the front wheel turns side to side, it's a PAIN to move a bike that has it's back wheel locked. You pretty much have to carry the whole thing. Hopefully, it's enough to discourage a would-be bike thief.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby Candybox » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:00 pm

This year, someone walked stole my sister's bike from our camp—in a little residential enclave off the Esplanade. It was unlocked at the time, but it was tucked behind some vehicles and yurts and they definitely had to have been looking for a bike in order to find it. Luckily, it reappeared a couple days later. I guess the thief returned it... so, no harm, no foul.

Also, on the night of the burn a couple guys tried to steal me and my bf's bikes while we were by some portapotties. My bf was watching our bikes when a couple of bike-less guys casually walked up to them, grabbed the handles, and made like they were just gonna walk off. My bf was all like, "HEY! WTF are you doing??!" and they pretended that they were all "confused". But clearly, they were trying to steal some bikes. It was a really lucky coincidence that for some reason we took turns going to the bathroom that night, since normally we would just go in and out at the more deserted portapotties without locking our bikes up. But there was a lot of good playa magic happening that night.

Last year, my bike got stolen at one of the sound camps. It was decorated, had my name/contact/address, and you know what? It was locked too. It turns out that because I never bothered to change the default lock combo (figuring that it being *locked* would be deterrent enough), someone was able to take it.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby MrMullen » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:34 pm

BBadger wrote:I don't understand this flawed logic you're on about. I place the blame squarely on the thief, as without the presence of thieves, there would not be need for the "victims" to lock up bikes. Do you also have the same mentality for people who do not lock their doors? Or if the person didn't use a "big enough" lock that couldn't be broken? I also wish that thief did get his ass handed to him as a nice memento to take home and think about, because no doubt that criminal will try it again.


Locks keep people honest. Yes, technically the bike thief is 100% responsible for stealing, it is not the victim fault. However, it is an event where bikes are stolen if you leave them unlocked and everyone knows it. It is almost to the point where if someone steals your unlocked bike, it is your fault. Messed up, that is the Playa.
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby knowmad » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:38 pm

not on playa though:
I had a bike that was stollen 3(4ish) times and I recovered it each time. once it was "discovered" at the train station, 50km away, in a town I rarely vist
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Re: Ever find your stolen bike?

Postby jkisha » Sat Oct 08, 2011 4:31 pm

I would also guess then, by that logic, if you had unprotected sex with a woman and she got pregnant it would be her fault?
Sure would be nice, but guess who'd be stuck for the child support? :wink:
BBadger wrote:
MrMullen wrote:Both of them were jerk offs. The bike thief for stealing and the "victim" for not locking his bike.


I don't understand this flawed logic you're on about. I place the blame squarely on the thief, as without the presence of thieves, there would not be need for the "victims" to lock up bikes. Do you also have the same mentality for people who do not lock their doors? Or if the person didn't use a "big enough" lock that couldn't be broken? I also wish that thief did get his ass handed to him as a nice memento to take home and think about, because no doubt that criminal will try it again.
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