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8 year old's bike stolen

Original post made by Sad mother, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2007

My 8 year old had a green Diamondback bike. His first new bike that he had for only one month. He had locked it up at El Carmelo, and left it there on Friday Nov. 9 after school while he went for a play date. Stupid me! I should have had him bring it home before the playdate. But it was locked up and neither of us thought that it would be taken.
Well we were wrong. I know that much worse things happen, yet I feel sad that this is his first experience of someone stealing something kind of big from him.
I am wondering if anyone else has had their child's bike taken recently, and any words from the wiser that might help us.

Comments (17)

Posted by Peter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2007 at 8:56 pm

do what my mom did for me when i accidentally left my new-clothes money on the floor of a changing room - i then couldn't afford my new parachute pants! but she used her money to buy me the pants. awesome.

so, buy him another bike right away. no worries. if you don't have the money, charge it. if you have to take some time to save up for another, do it - and buy it as soon as you can.

Posted by Lost 2 bikes myself
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 10, 2007 at 11:25 pm

It sounds like someone had an easy time of removing the lock.

Consider getting a U lock.

They come with key or a combo, are much tougher to defeat than a cable lock, and they start at around $30.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2007 at 7:20 am

Sad mother, I am sorry about your son's experience. Not only the loss of his bike, but the disillusionment about the world in general. I also would go with the idea of a new bike if you can possibly afford it, and ask the bike shop about the best type of lock.

ms. information, I think you meant to spell your name misinformation.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2007 at 7:22 am

Also, don't forget to report this to the police, also perhaps there is a surveillance cameera nearby that would have helpful film.

Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2007 at 9:48 am

I wouldn't rush out to buy a replacement, but I wouldn't put it off indefinitely either. Why? There are some valuable lessons to be learned.

Your son has already learned there are crooks and that some crooks come prepared to overcome some obstacles. But he needs to learn about how crooks think and operate. Most crooks are opportunists looking for a fast grab. Locks deter but don't foil a determined crook. The more complex the tools needed or the longer it takes to cut through a lock, the more likely the crook is to attract unwanted attention. This kind of understanding will help extend the the learning to theft in general, and it's what he needs to learn BEFORE you take him shopping for a new and more crook-proof lock.

Don't just buy the lock for him. After this theft, your son should be powerfully motivated to do a little research to find out what kind of locks are more secure, so take him shopping to a couple of bike shops/lock stores and find a salesperson who will talk to your son (not to you) in a way he can understand. Call ahead and make an appointment with a kid-friendly person.

Your son also needs to try out stronger locks because if the "best" lock is too difficult for him at his age, it's not the best lock for him.

Another lesson: have your son call the police to report the crime.

Posted by Grandma
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2007 at 10:17 am

It probably won't hurt your son to walk to school for a couple of months. Your son needs to learn there are consequences to making wrong decisions.

Incidentally, my son had his bike taken from JLS - you're not alone. I bought him a new one when he went to Gunn. He is 35 now and still has that bike!!!!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2007 at 11:33 am

That bike will probably turn up. My son has had his bike "taken" three times. Each time, it was found through effort on our part. Try looking at the "Drop", bikes get left there when they have been borrowed by friends who thought that the owner wouldn't mind. Check with the school office. A bike was once in the school lost and found because it had been found left in the wrong place and put there for safe-keeping. Also, check the bike racks at other schools in case it has been taken there.

From my experience, no one really steals the bikes for their benefit. A child cannot turn up at home with a bike not their own and have no questions asked. As a result, they usually get dumped somewhere. So check all the places you can think of where someone taking a joy ride may leave a bike. It may surprise you.

Finally, put some effort into looking for something that is lost and it does teach your child to value their property. Don't just replace it with something new, but teach them to look for something lost. I have found the same bike 3 times when it was mysteriously stolen and this bike is now treated with much more love and care than it used to.

Posted by parent2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2007 at 1:29 pm

You can always keep an eye on craigslist for a week or 2 to see if someone attempts to sell it there.

Posted by Sad mother
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2007 at 9:15 am

I want to thank you all so much for posting!! I really appreciated what you all said. And I found it comforting. We did all of the things that you wrote about. We drove around to all of the other schools in the area, and Mitchell Park to see if the person who took it may have dropped it off. But we did not find it. Also - because it was locked and attached to the the bike rack, I think that it was not a kid just out for a joyride. But, I will contact the police this morning. I have the serial number.
We have talked about it quite a bit and about what he learned from it. He thought that since it was locked up it could not be taken, and no one would.
We now have a bike fund where our family is going to save money in different ways(book and toy sale) and whatever he adds to it- I will match.) We will get a stronger lock. We will take it home right after school.
Now I think that it bothered me a bit more than it bothered him. He was very upset- but I just could not let it go. I felt sad for him that a bit of his innocence was just taken away.
So again thank you so much for your kind and helpful words!!
A bit less sad,

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2007 at 9:26 am

I forgot to mention perhaps the most obvious, but do mention it to your own school office. When I found my son's bike in the office it was because it had been found somewhere on school property where bikes shouldn't be and they were waiting for it to be claimed so that the owner could be reprimanded. When I went in with my son reporting the bike stolen from the bike cage while he was doing after school sport, they just gave it back to him with a smile.

We also had it taken from our church one Sunday after Church when he was going with a friend for a playdate and when we went back for it a couple of hours later it had been removed. We found it the following Sunday in one of the classrooms. The janitor had found it in the bike racks and although it looked locked, he found that it was not securely locked so he removed it for safe keeping and put it in a classroom. He thought he was being helpful.

It seems that this may not be the case for you, which is sad, but there are times that these things happen and so I wanted to mention it, if not for you, then for someone else out there.

Posted by FYI
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2007 at 12:33 pm

Here's video of a team showing how easy it is to compromise a locked bicycle:

Web Link

Here's video of an amateur sawing through a U lock in about 30 minutes (no doubt a pro works faster):

Web Link

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2007 at 1:23 pm

If you license the bike (as the city code says you must), the police may notify you if it's picked up. The police used to have a bike auction of recovered bikes every several months. I don't know if they still do this, but you may be able to buy it back there.

Posted by janette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 12, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Well, hopefully they don't have to buy it back if the police find it and they have a stolen bike description on record, plus the bill of sale.

Posted by R Wray
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 12, 2007 at 3:58 pm

I believe the police go by the license. No license may mean no hurry for notification, and at some point the bike becomes unclaimed property. Once the auctioneer has it, it may be his property until he sells it, but I'm no lawyer. I think government-type auctions would become chaos if all the items were subject to claims by the previous owners. One could sue, but that would be a pain.
I once had a car stolen in Chicago. The police recovered it but didn't notify me because I didn't have a city license. I had a difficult time getting it back.

Posted by Withheld
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:34 pm

I'm not accusing him of fibbing, but you should at least consider the possibility that he "forgot" to use the lock.

Buy him a used bike for $25 or $50 and teach him to enjoy the riding rather than the having. Tell him that one of the advantages of not being a robot consumer is that you don't have to chain everything down and spend life living in fear.

My first bike was a total clunker. I had to constantly work on it just to make it ride. A kid can learn a lot of mechanical engineering by taking apart a $50 bicycle...

There are a lot of good lessons in this for him.

Posted by Sad mother-Faith
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2007 at 10:56 am

You guys really helped me with my situation!
I read all the comments and as I wrote before I took all of the advice. Thanks FYI- for the videos. They were great. It was alarming at how peole just ignored the guy stealing the bike, and just assumed that it was his! I am trying to decide if I should show it to my 8 year old. I might. Thanks to Grandma- my older son liked your story that your son still has his bike. Thank you Parent. I did talk to the principal, and put a notice up about it. To Withheld- I also wondered if he locked it. But I was there and I saw him lock it - but you had to pull on it to check if it had clicked. And I think that he did it. But even without the lock it was at the bike rake of an elementary school and the person who took it should still not have taken it.
Anyway, to update you: That same day that I went and bought a second hand bike for $30. which is not as new and shiney- but works, we found the stolen bike! To make a long story short: an older student took it, and my older son heard someone say that this student has a new bike. My son asked to see it - and -it was his brother's, though all of the stickers had been removed. Once I heard about it- I went to the family and spoke with the parents and him at length. Mostly- he denied taking it. He said that he bought it from another guy- who saw it. So, we did resolve it.
Thanks again for all of the advice. It really helped me!

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I am so pleased that this was resolved satisfactorily.

To the situation with the culprit, I think this is a learning situation. Hopefully that the culprit will have learned that crime doesn't pay, that they are punished accordingly and perhaps this has prevented a worst theft (if this is not bad enough) in the future. If they had been able to get away with it once, they would try again. Being found out now may be the lesson that lasts a lifetime. And as a warning to all parents, don't be gullible with your kids explanations. If they sound fishy, investigate further.

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