SecureBIKEtag: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BIKE

First Steps to Protect Your Bike:

Blue Planet Security Logo The first thing you should do, especially with a new bike is to make a copy of the sales receipt. Ideally it has the bike frame serial number on it. Chances are it is one of those thermal receipts that will fade to nothingness in 6 months or so. Copy it with a scanner or a photocopy machine. If you have a scanner, you can upload the image to us as part of your product purchase along with photos of your bike.

Read on about different ways you can protect your bike. If you have an expensive bike, or even a cheap one that you rely upon everyday, you should use more than one method to protect it. This article will give you a number of options. If your local city or police department requires bike registration, with or without getting a license plate, that is always a good idea so that if your bike is found by the police, it will not end up at a police auction.

image of bike, b&w outline Take photographs of your bike and ideally closeups of special features that will identify the bike. Save these in mulitple locations and upload them someplace they will be available to the police and you whenever needed. This is a feature available with our SecureBikeTag.

A good bike thief is going to change, deface or grind off the serial number, so that is good only as long as it lasts. That is why we suggest using alternative methods to identify your bike even if its serial number and appearance has been changed. We also suggest using SecureBikeTag to warn away potential thieves before they get their hands on your bike.

Our SecureBikeTag product is a warning to thieves, just like alarm system stickers are on vehicles or buildings. Generally, the criminal will move onto a less risky target. The RFID sticker on the main tag will really make them pause and reconsider taking your bike. Most bike thieves wouldn't want to chance getting stopped on a bike that had obvious tracable identification tags. Even if a thief comes equipped with a bolt cutter and snips your lock and the tag cable, there is still the obvious white label. Is he going to risk taking the bike with that obvious security label? Is he going to sit there and try to peel it off? If he has a knife, is he going to take the time and use that? That is going to be pretty obvious to anyone that comes along. All of these factors make the thief spend more time increasing the odds that he will be caught, and greatly increasing the odds he will chicken out and split without your bike.

Immobitag packaging Unlike other systems, that tag does not tell them there are other tags on the bike. If the thieve sees the white tag before or after stealing the bike he is most likely going to figure that those two tags are it. He is not likely to look for the other ones and would really have to scour the bike to find them. Chances are the bike changes hands long before he spends the time to do that. Subsequent holders are increasingly unlikely to look.

Labels and tags are a good warning device. Of course, if the warning fails and the bike is stolen, the warning tags are going to be removed. The bike is then likely sold to some innocent purchaser. The tags also inform the police that there is a way to find the owner of the bike, but once stolen and given some time, the tags or labels that are obvious are gone. The SecureBikeTag product gives you the large tagging tag, a white tag/label for the frame, plus 4 small silver tags to conceal on the bike and the odds are that at least one or more will survive. The silver label is 1 3/4 x 1/2" although the user can trim it to 1" which is the amount of space the printing takes up.

There are warning stickers that alert the potential thief that the bike has an RFID device. If such a sticker would make any difference, I have no idea. Opinions in bike forums, etc. are fairly evenly split. If there really is an RFID device, then the thief is going to look for it and probably find it. If it can't be removed, like one embedded in the seat frame tube, there are fairly easy ways to simply destroy it. At best the bike will be sold to another and the odds of the bike being scanned are increasingly remove.

RFID TAGS
See the bottom of article for our RFID solutions

Most RFID tags are passive. They radiate back energy they pick up from the reader with their ID number. The greater the distance they can be read at, the greater the energy the reader needs to put out and the more expensive it becomes. With the increase in distance, the frequency required becomes higher and higher. This makes the reader more and more expensive, into the thousands of dollars.

902mhz RFID Chip and long antenna as used in product packaging The other critical thing about an RFID chip is that the chip is tiny, often the size of the head of a stick pin, but the antenna is very long. In any image of one you will see that the antenna trace runs back and forth repeatedly. The antenna has to be long in order to pick up enough of the weak energy from the reader to power the chip and send the data back. The image to the right shows a 902 mhz chip and antenna that is used in product packaging. You can see how long the antenna is and this is only embedded between two thin sheets of card stock such as in a razor package. The Immobitag is obviously a small device inside the plastic plug. There is not much surface area for an antenna, so the required reader has to be very powerful considering all the different factors.

Pictured above is the Immobitag RFID product. It does not immobilize the bike. For that you need a good lock and thick multi-filament cable. This product is an RFID chip embedded into a plastic plug that is pushed into the steel seat tube of a bicycle. The sales sites we visited previously now have this product listed as not available. This product was sold in England and a couple of police departments supported it and apparently purchased RFID readers. Nothing futher has been heard of it.

What is the problem with this device? There are a number. First, metal is a serious barrier to an RFID signal just as it is to any other radio signal. Bikes have fairly thick steel tubing. For it to work at all, the chip needs to be high frequency UHF. That means the reader also needs to be high frequency and put out significant power. You are talking about a reader that costs in the range of $1,500 to $3,000. Few police departments and very few others are going to have such a reader.

Consider modern autos that have RFID chips embedded into the top of the key. The reader in the car is not very powerful. Wrap aluminum foil around the key fob and I bet your car does not start. Imagine the power needed to pentrate the thick steel seat tube of a bicycle.

Second, few police departments have the equipment or other resources to scan a bike for a RFID chip. There are also a number of frequencies used for RFID, so a reader that could detect and read multiple frequencies would be needed, raising the price of the reader substantially. Even scanning a bike is probably a loosing proposition as so very few bikes would be chipped. The only way for it to make sense would be for all bike manufacturers to chip their bikes the same way and require registration at time of sale at a central registry. That is the ideal but has not happened. Bike makers, like car manufacturers don't particularly care, as theft is much more profitable for them.

Finally, if a bike thief is at all sophisticated, or the bike has a sticker for the ImmobiTag, it is not that difficult to destroy it, or destroy and remove it. Chances are the installer is only going to press it down the tube only the length of a finger. A small metal bar and a hammer would destroy it. A drill with a long drill bit would destroy it and probably allow it to be removed. However, the thief really has nothing to worry about in the U.S. where few police departments have powerful RFID readers and even fewer are going to bother to look.

Using a Tile

There is a new device called The Tile. We ordered some when they were first raising money. On about 09-01-14, we got a Tile. The one surprise, is that the photos of it made it look smaller than it actually is. The Tile is 1.5" x 1.5" and 1/4" thick.

Tile will be a great thing to keep track of your keys and other items. At $19.95 each that can add up. Tile is a Bluetooth device. It is much larger than a RFID key fob and has a large 1/2" hole for attachment. To use it, you download an app to your smart phone. If you don't have an IOS or Android smartphone, that eliminates you.

If the item is stolen or lost, every smartphone that has the Tile app will look for your item and if found report its location to you. This assumes alot of things. It assumes that Tile has major market penetration. It assumes another phone will be within range. Bluetooth has three classes of devices. Class 3 is under 1 meter. Class 2 is under 10 meters and Class 1 is up to 100 meters. The Tile device is Class 2 at best. The maximum possible range of 10 meters or about 30 feet is under ideal conditions and with a fresh battery. The Tile uses a tiny watch type battery and over time the output of that battery is going to decrease as will the range of the device. In addition, keep in mind that it works with a smartphone and is further limited by the range the Bluetooth phone is capable of.

The Tile uses radio waves and the distance is reduced rapidly by walls and other obstructions. It does not penetrate metal very well at all, so dropping it down your bicycle seat tube is not going to work well at all even if you do own a monster bike. The Tile is 1.5" x 1.5" so it is not going to be hidden inside a bike. The Tile app and phone is going to have to be on top of the bike for any possible hope of success. Tile might be great for finding your keys within your house but is going to be pretty worthless for finding your bike in the wild. Considering that the Tile only works for one year before it must be replaced and regardless of how well the hardware circuitry attempts to even out the power flow, you know it is going to get weaker and weaker during the course of the year.

Tile, White Then there is one other problem. The ONLY people who can locate your property are other people who have purchased tiles and downloaded the app. I think Tile is engaging in alot of wishful thinking on how good this approach is going to work. Oh, yes, did we mention the biggest issue of all? The Tile device works for ONE YEAR. The battery goes dead after a year, or maybe sooner than that. You can NOT replace the battery. You MUST purchase a new Tile. Thus using the system for a number of different devices is going to get expensive.

In comparison, a RFID device is passive. There is no battery in 125khz devices. The RFID device should last nearly forever. Once you buy it, it is not going to ever cost you another cent. I would also bet that there are more 125khz RFID readers than there will ever be Tile owners. Tile devices are going to have a much lower adoption rate in foreign countries than in the U.S., and 125khz is used worldwide. A number of nations use 125khz chips in passports, social security cards, medical insurance and so forth, so this basic standard is never going to go away.

Vehicles like motorcycles that have engines and batteries, plus the space to conceal devices are best protected by a GPS system. This is not cheap, and for it to work, you need to purchase a sim card and basicly pay for cell phone service for it. If you have a 35K Harley, that is a small investment. There are also ignition interlock systems that require a specific RFID fob to allow the vehicle to start.

Most modern autos have RFID chips in the key fob. These keys are expensive to replace thus a good reason to have our Secure-Keys key recovery product. Insurance companies thing these keys are infallible and you will have real problems with your insurance claiming car theft. In truth, these devices can be bypassed in a number of ways. In fact, there is a little know process that involves getting a copy of your key but covering up the fob part with aluminim foil (which also tells you how weak the signal is) and the using a series of key turns and pulls on the emergency brake that bypasses the RFID device and starts your car.

The Best RFID Option

If you would like to tag your bike with an RFID chip, Blue Planet offers the best option.

First, the most common RFID tags and devices are 125khz. These are short range. The reader must be within 5 inches. The advantage is that the lowest cost readers are for 125khz. A reader to plug into a computer usb port can be had for $10.00. These tags come in many different forms and are used for access control systems, time clocks, key control systems and many other things. They come with permanent embedded numbers and are also available in writable form as a slighly higher price.

Pet Injectable Chip compared to grain of rice The most important thing is that 125khz was used for pet chip implants for a long time. (One firm used 128khz.) More recently the industry switched to the international standard of 134.2khz. Many vets and virtually all animal shelters, and some police departments have these portable scanners. All the new scanners read all 3 frequencies. The portable scanners are in the $100 to $200 range and much cheaper than any reader for higher frequency RFID.

Thus, if there is any chance for anyone to be able to read a RFID chip on a bike, the best chance is using 125khz.

The best place to attach such a device is under the seat. Inside a steel tube will block the signal though we are still testing to see if there is a way to make it work inside the tube. The Blue Planet device is a standard key fob though one that is writable so that we can write our own data which includes our 888 number to our security call center plus the serial number. Just about anyone is going to recognize an 888 number with 10 digits as a toll free number. The cards only accept numbers and the usual readers only display numbers.

Pet chips are not writable. They are manufactured with a pet chip company ID info. The chip identifies the manufacturer and a serial number. This can be checked against national databases. We considered using the glass pet chips but simply don't have the volume to go to a chip manufactuer. We really don't want to get into the pet chip business.

Our key fobs also have weatherproof stickers identifying them as Blue Planet Security and/or with our short url BPPRN.com which is our Blue Planet Property Recovery Network site, along with the serial number. Thus a RFID reader is not even necessary and the fob acts as another label.

You can use the included small key split-ring to attach it under the seat to a spring, or take off the split-ring and use a two part epoxy to attach it under the seat permanently. The seat construction may allow you to conceal it very well, making it difficult to spot. There will not be enough interference from metal in that location and it should be easy for readers to detect. Further, because the most likely place for a RFID chip is the seat tube, a chip in the seat will be readily detected. Few criminals would think to examine the seat in detail. Few would replace an expensive part like a seat. Nobody is likely to replace the seat without a really really good reason.

Unlike other products, our RFID tag kit is only $14.95. It will be available shortly.

Identify Your Bike with UV Paint

Blue Planet also sells a low cost kit to paint an ID onto your bike with Ultra Violet Paint. The kit includes 2 professional cut vinyl stencils that says BPPRN.COM 123 (The 123 is a 3 digit number assigned to you.) It includes a container of protective coating, a UV flashlight, alcohol wipes, gloves and all other needed items. You can use the kit to identify any property and is great to ID tool boxes, boat motors and many other items. Larger kits are also available.

The advantage of UV Paint is that every police department has UV lights of various types. Probably like RFID, the police are not likely to examine found bikes with UV as a rule. If told they are looking for such a bike, they have the equipment to readily check found bikes.

This is a security feature that virtually no bike thief is going to think of or is likely to remove.

BPPRN.com. Blue Planet Property Recovery Network.


SecureBIKEtag is (c) copyright 2014 by Blue Planet Offices, Inc. and Blue Planet Security Corporation.

Blue Planet Security Corp. is a division of and a registered dba of Blue Planet Offices, Inc. Key West, FL

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