Have you ever had your bike stolen? I have, and it wasn’t even a special bike – just a “wire donkey” as we say in German. Some bastard with a bolt cutter liked it, cut through the railing it was attached to and took it! Now a German start-up had the great idea of implementing a smart barcoding system and online bike registration, to create a global network of thief catchers.

The way it works is simple: you register your  bicycle on Mybikenumber –  free of charge – by entering its serial number and photos. This system allows not only for the frame of the bicycle, but also its individual components to be separately registered with their respective serial numbers.

In the case of your bike being stolen, MyBikeNumber.com can now “search” for it worldwide, whereas before that theft could only have been reported to your local police. Given that these days even thieves travel, this is a handy service. And: if the real smart crooks have dismantled your bike in its different bits and pieces in order to sell the parts individually, those can be traced through the serial numbers entered.

The usefulness of this service is the community it will create over time and the bike database it builts for the worldwide commonality of bike owners. This is facebook for bikes. The ownership status of a bicycle is recorded and amended in the colours of a traffic light and is assigned as 1. stolen, 2. in correct ownership or 3. sold. This way origin and ownership status of bicycles and their components  all over the world become traceable. Of course this service is only as effective, as buyers who purchase a used bicycle, check to ensure that the bicycle or parts of it have not been reported stolen. And how does this check-up work? Via a QR-code.

To deter potential thieves before the actual theft, recorded bicycles are provided with a coded label, which is generated automatically after registration of the bicycle. That sticker can be self printed and should then be safely attached to the bicycle. The beauty of the sticker with the QR code is, that it can be read by  a mobile phone. An honest finder can make contact with the rightful owner within minutes. This is when platforms like twitter and facebook can  be used by the ” bikepolice” as registered profiles are disseminated through the Web. My bike may be gone for good, but the happy days of future criminals are numbered…

Look at what I just saw – a couple of hours after posting this article – pinned on a waste bin:

Mybikenumber guys give her a call and suggest to register her new bike…!