Bicycle riders on campus know the secret is out. U-shaped Kryptonite tubular cylinder bike locks–previously regarded as some of the most secure on the market–can be picked by inserting the back end of a plastic pen into the circular barrel of the lock and turning.
But despite the media frenzy caused by the recent discovery of an Internet video demonstrating how to pick the Kryptonite U-shaped lock, student bicycle riders and University Police Lieutenant Michael Patten said they are no more concerned about bicycle safety on campus. Though the Bic pen method has received the most media attention, Patten said most common bike thefts on campus occur when the bike is not locked at all or the lock is used inappropriately, such as when the user attaches it to the tire instead of the frame.
Patten added that even if there are problems with the U-shaped locks, they are still better than the alternatives, including cable locks that can be cut with bolt cutters.
“[Thieves are] like water,” Patten said. “They follow the path of least resistance.”
Patten said Yale police officers are putting orange stickers on any bikes that have cable locks. The stickers read: “Chains and locks do not provide good security. U-shaped locks provide better security.”
But Pietro Deserio ’07 said he purchased a steel cable lock this semester because he thought it would best secure his bike.
“I was going to get a U-lock, but then I heard on the news that they were easy to break, so I didn’t want to risk it,” he said.
According to the Kryptonite Web site, Kryptonite will exchange any co-branded tubular cylinder lock with a comparable non-tubular cylinder lock for costumers who complete and submit a lock exchange form found online. Kryptonite will provide the free product upgrades for locks purchased since September 2002. Shipment of the new locks is expected to begin in mid-October.
Baybrook Bicycles manager Bob Jacobson said he has not heard of any customers having their bikes stolen through the use of the plastic pen method since the discovery of the Internet Web site, and that the media has exacerbated the situation by publicizing the technique.
“It’s just like opening a house door with a credit card. It’s been around forever; it just shouldn’t be made public,” Jacobson said.
Baybrook Bicycles employee Altan Spence said Kryptonite locks are the most popular brand of locks because they come with the best guarantee, an anti-theft protection offer of reimbursement for up to $2,000 in the United States. Jacobson said Baybrook bicycles sold more than 400 Kryptonite locks last year alone.
James Newman ’07 — who uses a Kryptonite tubular lock — said he read about the unreliability of the product online but that he is not any more concerned with the safety of his bicycle.
“Anyone who actually would want to steal a bike can do so regardless of how it is locked up,” Newman said. “The chains and cables are pretty easy to rip with cutters.”
Though Newman said he does not know of anyone who has had their bicycle stolen, he said his bike seat was robbed last year after he left his bike in a bicycle rack in Old Campus over winter break.