An independent bike registry is aiming to “make bike theft a little less convenient” in Berkeley. Bike Index, started by former bike mechanic Seth Herr in Chicago, allows users to register their bike’s serial numbers free of charge into an open source database to help anyone track whether the wheels they wish to purchase online are stolen goods–and reunite cyclists with their stolen bikes.
According to Bay Area public radio station KQED, Berkeley police said 314 bikes were reported stolen there in the first half of 2015, compared with 328 in the same period last year. Those figures do not include stolen bikes reported to BART or the University of California Police Department, which reported 299 stolen bikes from the UC Berkeley campus in 2014 alone.
Bike Index has so far registered 49,063 bikes and recovered 2,415 stolen bikes. KQED notes that “the more bikes are registered, the easier it becomes to return stolen bikes and crack down on hot spots of bike theft in the community.”
While there are several other bike registries on the market, some prefer Bike Index because the founder is seeking to make it a non-profit in order to help the public. A 1976 ordinance reportedly makes it illegal to use a bicycle that has not been registered and licensed, and requires a fee of $2 annually, KQED notes. Yet some are reportedly seeking to drop the registration fee in favor of free registries like Bike Index.