Using serial numbers to put the brakes on stolen bikes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Using serial numbers to put the brakes on stolen bikes

When buying a bike, take pictures of the bike and its serial number (Source: WMC Action News 5) When buying a bike, take pictures of the bike and its serial number (Source: WMC Action News 5)
A picture of the serial number can help police track a bike if it's stolen. (Source: WMC Action News 5) A picture of the serial number can help police track a bike if it's stolen. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

His single mistake almost cost him his $6,000 bike.

Cordova's Gary Zyriek doesn't need anyone to draw a diagram. He knows it was dumb to leave his garage door open. It's how someone crept in and stole his bike -- worth more than a decent used car.

But it's what he did after he bought that bike that made him a genius. He took pictures of his bike and its serial number -- and he kept its owner's manual and invoice.

"Because I did, the police were able to identify my bike and locate it at a pawn shop within two days of the theft," Zyriek said.

By law, pawn shops must catalog the serial numbers or identification of everything they sell, including bicycles. The point is to provide police a resource to help track that merchandise in case it has been stolen.

Most bike shops have capitalized on that to develop their own serial number tracking networks.They will register bike serial numbers with their customers' names at the point of sale, providing yet another resource police can tap instantly to hunt down a stolen bike.

"If we're contacted, we can recall the invoice, recall the serial number, provide a document that goes to the police or other means to recover the bike by serial number, and all of the shops kind of cooperate with that," said Bill Fredrick of Bikes Plus in Bartlett, Tennessee.

The shops' serial number networks hope to break a rise in Memphis bicycle thefts. According to Memphis police, the city saw a 27 percent increase in the number of stolen bicycles -- from 431 in 2013 to 549 in 2014. So far this year, MPD has recorded 230 bicycle thefts.

Police records also revealed during that period, the highest number of bike thefts occurred in the Central Gardens, Overton Park/Midtown and Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhoods.

There are gadgets available to track a stolen bike, too, like the $143 SpyLamp 2. The tail reflector hides a GPS tracking device. A reporter at our sister-station WAVE in Louisville, KY, had his bike outfitted with one when it was stolen right from the station's sidewalk. He was able to track the SpyLamp's GPS coordinates online and find someone riding his bike. He got the bike back after confronting the bike-rider on camera.

As far as locks to secure a bike, Frederick indicated the best options are steel or high-grade metal U-locks (key or combination) or heavy, coated chain locks. The chain locks -- as much as $65 -- are virtually impenetrable, yet cumbersome to carry in a backpack. You get what you pay for when you're trying to keep your bike from being stolen in the first place.

But when it is stolen, you better have done what Zyriek did. Have that serial number on record -- and in pictures.

Because that's what guaranteed his bike worth six G's would be waiting for him at the Shelby County Justice Center.

"I am the only person in the history of Memphis to be smiling outside of 201 Poplar Ave.," Zyriek joked.

PUTTING THE BRAKES ON BIKE THEFT

* Register your bike’s serial number with your bike retailer.
* Register your bike’s serial number with its manufacturer.
* Keep your bike’s owner’s manual and invoice. They should have its serial number.
* Take pictures of your bike and its serial number so you can share them with police if the bike’s stolen.
* Don’t leave your bike unattended or unsecured. Keep that garage door closed.
* Don’t carry your bike everywhere on a car rack. Thieves may follow you home to steal your bike later.

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