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Is this the end of Beijing bike theft?

A new city-wide registration scheme has been introduced... but will it work?

Bike ownership in Beijing has always been on a cyclical basis. In fact, we now get bored of our bikes if we hold on to them longer than three months. New or old, they get nicked regardless of variables such as quality of lock or number of minutes left unattended. Over 200 bike thieves were caught every month last year in Beijing, and it’s such a big problem here that a city-wide registration scheme has been introduced to help catch even more bike burglars.

The free scheme creates an ID for the bike, which is linked to the legal owner and entered on a police database. The registration means cops have a better chance of identifying stolen bikes, and recovered bikes can be returned to their registered owners. (Unless, of course, they’re put in a van and sold outside of Beijing.) The PSB hopes that this will create a situation where consumers don’t want to buy obviously stolen goods, which in turn will lead to a reduction in thefts. So they’ve never heard of Gumtree or Wuba.

We cycled over to the Giant showroom to get the lowdown and went straight over our handlebars into the major pitfall of the scheme: it’s only for new bikes or bikes for which you have a shop receipt. It’s cycle shops themselves that are doing the registration, and for now you have to take your bike back to the very shop where you first met. They enter the bike’s serial number along with your ID info to create your profile. You can also buy a GPS tracking device, which will be incorporated with your registration. Now that’s right up our cycle lane.

How to register your bike

1. Buy a new bike, or, if you’ve already bought a bike and have the receipt, take it back to the shop.

2. Whip out your ID (passports accepted).

3. Ask for ‘real-name registration’ (shiming dengji, 实名登记) and fill in the paper form.

4. Keep hold of your registration number – you take it to the police if (when) your bike goes missing.

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