Police in Hamilton, Ohio, received reports of 168 bicycles stolen through September this year. They recovered 94. But they were able to find owners for just two bikes. The Cincinnati Enquirer says that police across the nation have problems reuniting owners with bicycles – many of which cost hundreds of dollars – that are recovered after being stolen.
One of the few who recovered a $600 stolen bike in Hamilton supports a National Bike Registry to help return more bicycles to their owners. Several dozen Cincinnati area police agencies have formed a partnership with the registry. Hamilton may charge $10 to provide owners with tamper-proof registration stickers and would help them list their bikes’ serial numbers with the registry. Police officers who find bikes may access the registry’s secure database to check for ownership matches. “With this service, even if the bike turns up somewhere else in the country, we can find out who the owner is, and the owner can get their bike back,” said Sgt. Thomas E. Kilgour, Hamilton police spokesman.
The National Bike Registry says that fewer than 3 percent of unregistered stolen bikes are returned to their owners – and bike theft is a $1 billion business. It’s also a fast-paced one. Experts estimate it takes only seven seconds to steal an unlocked bicycle. Across the nation, about 1.5 million bicycles are reported stolen each year, the registry says; registered bikes are nine times more likely to be returned to their owners than are unregistered ones.