Bike shuttles...need a simple sign

Just had an experience with an “honest thief” during a bike/kayak shuttle in which the bike was “found” and put in their garage despite it being locked to a tree (should have chosen a better tree). Got the bike back from the apologetic acquirer, but the problem remains that there are people who rationalize taking bikes/kayaks (“look at what I found” or “near my property it is mine” types). In their minds they did no wrong.

Not all landings have terrific lockable areas. So I’m trying to come up with a system to at least deter honest thieves (the other sort are a different problem).

One angle, might be a simple sign to attach to the kayak/bike. Something like “This is not lost property. Do not touch. I’ll be back soon from my shuttle. Thank you!” Thinking something rain-proof, wind-proof, light-weight that I could clip to both a bike or a kayak. As anybody done anything like this? Any ideas for materials to make this?

Just make a sign

– Last Updated: Apr-14-14 11:59 AM EST –

I'd try cutting a piece out of a big Tyvek mailing envelope and writing your message on it with a Sanford Magic Marker (that's the most weather-proof writing implement that's readily available). That would survive outside in the rain for months. You could wrap one side of the sign around a piece of heavy wire or or a chunk of rope, with the overlap fastened with tiny bolts and washers if you want a nearly non-destructible attachment to something sturdy that you could then put some kind of fastening clip on.

Still, I agree with the others below that a better job of locking it is the best answer. I figured that the main thing the sign can accomplish is make them think twice about whether they have enough time to complete the theft.

I recall a case like that
on the Nantahala. When confronted, the perps were surprisingly shameless about denying wrong. But what would one expect? They know they stole it. You know they stole it.

Not sure what to do in advance, but after the fact, I would write an account, devoid of accusation, but just stating what was left, where it was found, and with whom, and leave it with local police and with others in the community. Don’t make any accusations, just the bare facts.

You’re too kind
An honest person would not take a locked bike. I once returned with my car to the takeout to find a couple of “honest” guys trying to figure out how to take my “abandoned” canoe and gear home. They would have been long gone except for the troublesome cable lock that had it secured to a tree (same lock I use for the bicycle).

You might deter a few really clueless people with a sign, but most would first pitch the sign in the bushes and then get on with the business of stealing your “abandoned” bike.

We live in a nation with too many poorly educated, marginalized people and behaviour of this sort is the result.


what next?
A lock should be a sufficient clue.

Next will be a sign stating that the first sign is neant to be taken seriously and not in jest. And should not be stolen either.

How about a sign at put-ins that says, “surveillance camera onsite”.

Your bike wasn’t stolen
You gave it away. This is a common theme on bicycling forums, folks don’t lock their bike ‘just for a second’ and poof, they’re gone. Now how much protection do you want will depend on how much lock you need. Take a walk around NYC, you’ll see massive chains and locks that people use to prevent theft. And if you leave your bike a long time, like a few days, you may come back to a bare frame locked to a tree. If your leaving it for a few hours, then a lighter cable or chain will prevent the ‘HEY LOOK! a bike!’ theft of opportunity. Try and lock both wheels, and the frame to something solid, and something that the bike and lock can’t be lifted off. If you can take the seat with you. That will make the bike uncomfortable to ride and deter some crooks.

Or get a folding bike and take it with you.

Do you think spraying a utility shuttle
bike with swaths of ugly paint might make it sufficiently unattractive to thieves? That’s what I do with boats I have to leave vulnerable in public.

I’m talking about paint over part of the spokes, frame, tire walls, anywhere it won’t affect operation.

Still would need a good lock.

sorry, I think the biking community
is full of hot air on this one.

nice story for the "honest thieves"
2 weekends ago we went to Tybee Island, GA, and launched at what seemed to be a popular kayak launch site. Loading back up, my friend left her new carbon Celtic paddle there. Figure a $450 paddle. Someone found it, and it got turned in to the local Celtic paddle dealer. He figured out who’s it was, called her, and we went and picked up her paddle. Her weekend could have been ruined, and instead, we were left with this terrific feeling about the people of the area.

Culturally acceptable/unacceptable vs. right/wrong.

Legal/Illegal vs. right/wrong.

These are so often not even close to the same thing.

marking your craft
Rescue and law enforcement officials strongly urge people to indelibly mark their gear, especially canoes and kayaks, so if they are found floating or “abandoned” they can contact the owners and not wonder if they should be launching a search and rescue mission. you can buy industrial type magic markers that will permanently mark plastic – I have my name, and PA license number inside ALL my boats both for ID purpose and so I can prove it is mine if stolen. Same with bikes and even all my tools, for which I use an etching pen to engrave the steel surface.

I would love to see more secure facilities provided for boat and bike storage at put-in spots. Our local construction material recycling store just got in about 30 of the two-bike “blue bike” program fiberglass locking garages that sell new for $2200 and they were selling them for $175. I was almost tempted to buy a couple and donate them to be installed at a put-in I often use along the Mon River. Being able to leave my bike there would make extended downriver trips so much nicer It’s a secluded area and not one where a bike would be likely to be unmolested, left in plain sight.


– Last Updated: Apr-14-14 12:11 PM EST –

Here's another good example: a few years ago I put in at a powerboat lunch and when I looked back to shore, discovered I had left my cockpit cover onshore. I saw a powerboat user walk up to it, pick it up, and toss it in the back of his truck. Then he looked up and saw me paddling hard to shore, and he hastily took it back out of his truck, threw it on the ground and took off.

He knew right from wrong. He just needed a reminder.

Poorly educated, marginalized people?
Remember the recession? The biggest thieves in the country are on Wall Street, in the mega banks, and in . . . well, you know. Maybe the petty thieves stand out more for you because it’s hard to wrap your mind around the mega thieves?

I doubt a sign will deter thieves
But if you make one, here is another weatherproof sign you can easily make, if you have a vacuum-sealer (usually for bagging dehydrated food):

Marker your words on a piece of heavy white paper, more like a very thin cardboard. Cut plastic tubes used to make vacuum-sealed bags so that the plastic has at least a one-inch margin around all edges. Following your vacuum-sealer’s instructions, seal the sign in the plastic. Make sure there are no air bubbles or gaps in the sealed edges.

I did this for a planting sign in late January, and it’s still in excellent condition despite wind and rain.

As for theft deterrent, find a better tree.

Brand name for marker?
Where can I buy an indelible marker for plastic? And what is it called, if you can remember? Thanks.

G in NC

How about a sign saying"I’ll be back" with a German accent?


Take the seat,…my story!
I have been bicycle shuttling on canoe trips for 20 years and on one particular instance, I was paddling the Falls River in Eastern Idaho and decided to take the seat with me after locking my bike to a tree. I was a true novice and unwittingly ran into some class 3+ rapids that were not described in the guidebook. Lost all my equipment, canoe (OT Discovery 146) got pinned underwater for a month, I almost drowned when I got pinned under a large boulder for an extended period. After I recovered, I trecked back to my bike and had to ride it without a seat for 13 miles up and down very hilly countryside. It was certainly adding insult to injury,… literally! Now I run the heavy gage locking cable through the seat support loop which prevents its theft,… along with running other cables through the wheels and frame.

not relevent
This is so much a different subject…

Nah–“Loading my guns” (nm)

How 'bout…

– Last Updated: Apr-16-14 8:56 AM EST –

"DANGER! YOU CAN BE KILLED! I DON'T CALL NINE-ONE-ONE!"(Be sure to include an illustration of a fist holding a pistol for more dramatic effect. Or perhaps, the more low profile skull-and-crossbones symbol).

You can also try petitioning the perp with prayer...

"I'm only paddling for the next two hours--It's a Class V and I'm doing it all alone. So should I survive, please confine your "borrowing" of this bike to within that time period."

...But yeah, since when do thieves read or care about the content of what a sign says?