It’s too bad we’ve got to rob or steal from our fellow humans. But it’s a fact of life that we need to protect our stuff, in varying degrees, even down to our identities. The word civil is the root word for citizen, civility, and civilization. One definition of civil is “courteous” and “polite.” The French and English came up with that term a few hundred years ago when they were describing the “progress of humanity.”
Whether the theft is a white-collar scam or someone breaking a bicycle lock, the act is the same. It’s a societal sickness. Once cockroaches settle in, they are about impossible to exterminate. You learn to live with them. It’s why apparel retailers keep anti-theft sensors on every garment and cameras throughout every store (at significant cost to those who purchase). The percentage of people who steal out of desperation is negligible. It’s a sickness.
Just consider bicycles. In New York, if you don’t bolt your bike to something when you are not riding, you might as well kiss it good bye. Even for a few minutes, if the frame is not secured to a fixed post with a kryptonite lock, it could be gone while your back is turned. Luckily, I’ve lost only one bike to theft while living in NYC. The bike was bolted to a scaffolding post with a kryptonite lock with a steel cable intertwined through both wheels. Because the thief couldn’t break the kryptonite lock, he unbolted the scaffolding post, in the middle of the day on a busy sidewalk, and slide the locked bike off the post.
On the sidewalk in front of my apartment last Fall there was a nice looking road bike locked to a post for several days. It was expertly locked with two kryptonite locks and all components locked to the bike. Gradually, items went missing. First the peddles, then the seat, handlebars, wheels, until there was nothing but the frame. It’s very difficult to cut through high-rated kryptonite locks (there are many versions of kryptonite locks rated by degree of difficulty to cut them off.)
In Colombia, where I’ve ridden quite a bit, I heard stories of solo riders having their bikes stolen while they were riding. Either gangs or “help me” tricks would get the rider off the bike while an unsuspecting person would grab the bike and run (or ride) away.
The city where I am in (somewhat) northern China is a bike city. One refreshing aspect is that bike theft is not an issue.
Sure, people lock up their bikes, more to prevent someone from riding off on the wrong bike. And no one locks their bikes to anything. Most use a simple flimsy lock that could be hacked in a New York minute. But no one steals here. Like Japan, where tens of thousands of bikes are parked on sidewalks and streets, a simple lock is enough protection. The theft sickness in those cultures doesn’t run so deep. So for now, since a bicycle is my only form of transportation, I’m content not having to lug around a heavy kryptonite lock and locate a fixed post for every errand.