Recent reports indicate thieves are using Strava data to hijack bikes. Cheeky! Where does narcissism end and vulnerability begin?
This was brought to light by the Hull Daily Mail, and affirmed by Road.cc. Many of the commenters were skeptics. But in reading through all the trolls, there were a few people who confirmed the crooked activity. User “harrigan” posted on Road.cc:
On the night one of my bikes was stolen there were two similar thefts within 1/4 mile of my house. In each case there were other valuable bikes but they stole only the most expensive from each. The common factor was the use of Strava. So, yes, it does happen, even with privacy functions on it’s not especially difficult to work out where the bikes are kept. Like many of I have a routine to my riding – same days/times – and there is little effort involved in making sure you’re around at the right time in order to earn what must have been about £9000 on that particular night.
If you’re riding multiple times a week and feel the need to track your rides, it is fair to assume you have a nice bike. But the strategy of Strava bike stealing goes even further than assumption.
I’ve talked with a few people, and they were dumbfounded… “What? You’re telling me a thief wants to steal my bike?!” I responded with, “Well, what are the most expensive things you own? Maybe you’re TV? Your computer? I bet your bike is more expensive than both of those things.” I was answered with silence.
It’s still a bit questionable what the exact methods the thieves are using… But after digging around in the app, I easily came up with some answers.
But don’t panic yet, I’ll explain how a thief could use Strava to steal your bike, and how this is all easily avoidable. Solutions and tips below.
When I opened up Strava and started clicking around I was astonished to see how many people I was able to get to, even if I wasn’t following them! Really, you only need a few friends using the app, and through the power of a network, it is easy to find many other Strava users (followers, following, followers of followers etc…). And even with a little patience and strategic searching, you can find people in your area that you aren’t linked to at all. Once you’ve found someone whose profile is public (which many are), then you can see all their activities.
Many start their ride right from their house. By looking at a few tracked rides by the same user, it becomes apparent where they live. You see the problem here. It’s sort of like putting a funeral in the newspaper. Once a thief has found where you live, they know where your bike lives.
And you might be saying “yeah, but when you look at the app, you don’t know exactly when the runner/biker is gone.”
Sure, but we are creatures of habit. During the week, I can bet you are regularly exercising on the same days and at about the same times. If you are consistently working out post 9 to 5, there is an obvious window when your bike is there for the taking.
Strava has a feature called Enhanced Privacy; your best bet for for safety is to ensure that is switched to On. There are a slew of setting in place to avoid all these location debacles. Additionally, there are more granular controls to make sure only people you approve can follow you and see your activity. You can even implement custom privacy settings at https://strava.com/settings/privacy
You’re an athlete, you’re a narcissist, I get it. You want the world to know when you get the KOM (King of the Mountain) or a PR (Personal Record). Well, how about this: don’t start your ride at your front door. Go around the block and begin. Or even better, go for a little warm up ride, then begin to chase your Strava dreams from a different locale.
Similar to stunting your start, when you’re done, hold off on posting your results. Even stagger posting your rides throughout the week. Avoid showing any consistency in when you’re out of your house.
… But even more than those things, lets use some common sense.
I love having bikes in the living room. It adds a personal touch and can be a good conversation starter. But if someone could peek in the window and see your $3,000 road bike, you’re asking for it. Don’t put it on display. Similarly, don’t put it in your backyard shed. Lock it up, and only let it see the light of day when you are riding it.
If you’re a runner, you may not have a bike, but it could be easy to figure out when you’re not home. You’re next. After a long jog, your stinky trainers might get stolen off your front stoop.