Bike stolen right outside his flat

He parked his bicycle just outside his flat and in an area with high human traffic, so what could go wrong?

Well, everything did for retiree Masrol Asamat, 65, when his mountain bike got stolen in June last year, even though he had parked it at the bicycle bay outside his first-storey home in Simei.

It was right in front of Simei MRT station, which is popular with cyclists who park their bikes there and hop onto the train.

His was just one of 1,256 bikes reported stolen that year.

In 2013, it was 1,221.

As a result of the rising numbers, the police gave out 50,000 bicycle locks over three years to combat theft.

Last June, Mr Masrol had parked his bike at the usual place and was stunned when both the vehicle and cable lock he had used to secure the bike were gone.

He said: "I was shocked because I thought this area (in front of the MRT station) is crowded and people wouldn't dare to steal anything. The thief must have done it at night."

While the bicycle cost about $100, Mr Masrol said it was the idea of having something stolen from right outside his front door that upset him.

In November last year, several new initiatives were launched to deter bicycle theft, including an online database for bike owners, anti-theft signs and the giving out of free U-locks.

But many in the cycling community believe that once a bicycle is stolen, there is little chance of recovering it. Prevention is key.

Mr Woon Taiwoon, founder of Love Cycling SG (LCSG), one of Singapore's biggest community cycling groups, said: "When your bike is being targeted, there is very little you can do, even the best locks can be broken."

He recommends using a cable lock on top of a U-lock, locking one's bike to an immovable object and having as few quick-release parts, such as wheels and seat posts, as possible.

BMX

Whenever the LCSG community hears of a stolen bike, they post it on the group's page so that others can keep an eye out for the stolen bike.

This is also done in the more niche cycling groups such as BMX riders, which Mr Wyser Chu belongs to.

In 2011, while still a student, Mr Chu had ridden his $1,000 BMX bike to study with friends at a fast-food outlet in Geylang East, leaving his bicycle against a glass panel so they could keep an eye on it.

His bike was stolen during the 30 minutes he was engrossed in his books. After realising it was not a prank, Mr Chu made a police report and also posted on a BMX riders' Facebook group.

"On Facebook, our BMX community has a group for discussions and selling of items. It then consisted of up to 800 members, which seemed pretty likely that someone would see my bike somewhere," he said.

About a week later, someone told Mr Chu that he saw a boy riding the same bike in Bedok, and he immediately took a taxi to the address.

There, he found out that the boy had bought the bicycle from someone else just a few days ago.

"I didn't force him to return my bike as he was somewhat the victim of the crime too," he said.

As for Mr Masrol, he was given a U-lock by the police after he reported the theft of his bicycle, and now uses it on his electric bike, which he still keeps parked outside his flat.

He said: "Even though since then, my side mirrors and helmet have been stolen, and my storage box prised open, at least I know (the thief) cannot steal my entire bicycle."


This article was first published on December 2, 2015.
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