Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is Kembangan bicycle theft central?

All this while I had assumed Pasir Ris was bicycle theft central. A recent letter and some comments suggest it might just be Kembangan!

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.


Back2Nature said...

What I see is these:
1) LTA still not sure to be supportive or not on the use of bicycle as a transportation means.
2) SMRT doesn't clearly recognized that these cyclists are their customers, even though among the very minority. They put up bicycle stands not to serve the cyclists, but to let their stations look neat.
3) Police probably only sees these as extra and impossible tasks for them [to catch bicycle thieves].

Is there a Cycling in Singapore society/group, but not those leisure or professional groups, to push forward this agenda?

PS: Can I apply for some kind of Singapore record for my long serving bicycle that has been my main, and now major mode of transportation since 1996, and it is virtually not at home 99.99% of the time.

beppi said...

When my bicycle was stolen recently (good chain lock cut at night in the void deck), the police confirmed that this is "a growing trend" and suggested organised gangs selling the bikes abroad (as the danger of being found is too big for any user in Singapore). They also said that the police isn't doing anything in particular to stop this, and the officers seemed to be at a loss as for what could be done.
Clearly, "petty theft" is not the right description for this kind of organized crime!
When will the Singapore police wake up to the fact that it is just a small step from using heavy tools to cut bicycle locks tools to breaking doors or windows?