Milan to open register of bike “number plates”

Another move against Milan’s bicycle thieves.

Milan city hall has decided another move in the war against bicycle thieves with the introduction of a registry of bikes, with photos and description, and the stamping of a “number plate” onto the frame.

Since not all manufacturers stamp a serial number on their bikes, the city will now offer a service to provide a number and stamp it indelibly and immediately visible into the metal frame.

Owners will be able to register on line with their contact data and photo of their bike.  The registry will make it easy for bikes recovered from thieves to be reunited with their owner.

Although Milan’s metropolitan police already has a dedicated anti-bike theft squad, they can’t keep up with the hundreds of annual thefts which, says city hall, is dissuading many commuters from using this inexpensive and ecologically virtuous means of transport.

A recent investigation by online magazine The Submarine revealed that neighbourhood markets are a prime target for thieves.  While city centre thefts take place almost entirely on the street, thieves don’t hesitate to invade private property in the outlying suburbs. Half of the thefts are committed within four hours of parking, and 92 per cent within 24 hours, states the report.

Eight out of ten cyclists use a security system which is too easy to defeat, continues the report. Over 40 per cent use a chain, another 36 per cent a cable, and 13 per cent a U-shaped padlock.  But these are often easy to crack open with garden shears or miniature electric saws – not to mention the 6 per cent who use no anti-theft device at all.

If somebody spends €200-300 on a good bike, recommends the magazine, it makes sense to spend €60 on a sturdy lock.

Earlier this year, an anonymous tipster revealed to The Submarine that a “stash” of 173 bikes and motorini was hidden on the roof of an abandoned industrial depot in Milan’s Cinisello Balsamo suburb (pictured), out of sight from ground level. Police raiding the hangar suspected they were being collected for a mass transport for sale elsewhere.