A letter to Today by a Kelvin Kuan sparked a couple of other lettters by Today readers, one of whom said that even bicycles in houses aren't safe! And the comments to the blog post that reproduced the letter fill in other blanks around the story. So the 2005 initiative to combat bicycle thefts has not worked. Or at least not enough.
Even bicycles costing less than $100 are game.
One possibility is that cheap bikes may be stolen for their value in the heavy steel used to make the bike. After all, drain covers started disappearing in 2005, so bicycles are fair game too. My old bike, the very heavy "Champion Du Monde," was finally claimed by rocketing steel prices. It had languished in a corner of campus, as I looked a for a new owner interested in a free but heavy bicycle. Then steel prices went up, and it disappeared satisfyingly. The lock and chain were simply a bonus!
So the "flimsy locks" that used to sufficiently secure a bicycle outside an MRT are now definitely inadequate. There might be more determined hands at work these days. The trouble is, a good lock may cost more than a very cheap bike!
So we wait eagerly for a response from LTA or the SMRT regarding surveillance at bike parks next to MRT stations. Meanwhile we wonder - in in this day and age of heightened security, shouldn't the environs of an MRT station should be monitored. Weren't they a target once?
The Minister of Home Affairs responded to this question in parliament, no less, in 2005. This will work to our advantage. Helping to catch a petty thief every now and then will keep security services on their toes and help highlight problems in surveillance procedure and equipment. You know you have heard it all before: sorry, the machines were not working, they were not turned on, the media was erased, the light was too dim, etc. Installing equipment is only the first step and no substitute for an integrated programme.
So SMRT and the police should welcome the cases - better we practise with bicycle thieves now and be able react efficiently in the face of a more significant threat.
Else, you know, we might get complacent.