Halfwit Thieves Fail to Steal Bicycle from an American Expat in Germany

almost-stolen-bike-in-deutschland
This is my bike. I call her, “Chain Bang.”

Remember that glorious trip my wife and I took to Bremen not long ago? This post concerns the moment immediately after we returned to Hannover, when we stepped off the S-Bahn to retrieve our bicycles.

It was way past midnight, and our two bikes were the only ones left at this particular stop. My wife rides one of those fancy Dutch style cruising bikes, which fits her personality perfectly: beautiful, classy, and designed to make you sit up so straight it’s like you’ve got a stick up your pooper.

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“Wouldn’t YOU rather steal this one?” — Photo Credit: Umberto Brayj (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubrayj02/) — Image subject to copyright (CC BY 2.0)

Her gorgeous cruising bike was completely unmolested, while my previously-owned, €50 euro bike had obviously been the victim of a failed kidnapping, beaten, and then left for dead. Man, it makes no sense to try and steal mine, when they could have tried to steal hers. My wife takes great pride in explaining this to me, however: she uses two separate locks — a thick cable lock, and a rigid horseshoe lock. Apparently, two high-quality locks are enough to tell bicycle thieves to fuck right off, while my one, €10 euro, pencil-thin cable lock says, “Step on up and try your luck, you penniless guttersnipes.”

But my bike is hardly worth one lock, let alone two. When I ride it, I have to hunch over to reach the handlebars — real earnest-like — so I look like I’m trying to run everybody off the road and smash their children. The dynamo-powered light on the front has all the candlepower of a firefly, and the brakes are more interested in loudly announcing my arrival than they are actually stopping it. The chain creaks like it’s going to snap at any moment, and the bell on the handlebars makes exactly two kinds of sounds: a quiet, Please Ignore Me Entirely, sort of PING, and a GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY BECAUSE I’M AN ASSHOLE, BAH-D-D-DUH-RIIIIIIIIIIIING!

almost-stolen-bike-in-germany
“Oh, she may look harmless enough, but believe me, Chain Bang cannot WAIT to end my American life.”

Aaaaaanyway, as I was unlocking my bike, I noticed the handlebars had been cranked around so hard they were backwards. Like perfectly, 180 degrees, Exorcist backwards.

almost-stolen-bike-twisted-handlebars
“The power of Christ compels you!”

I thought that was odd; I didn’t remember trying to twist my bike’s head off before we left for Bremen. And that’s when I noticed there was also something wrong with my chain. Namely, it had been yanked so violently it no longer formed a simple loop — it had taken on a mutated “S” shape.

almost-stolen-bike-broken-chain
“I need to see my chiropractor.”

It wasn’t until the next morning, upon closer inspection, I saw the clumsy laceration in the plastic casing. This chain cost me €10 euros, like I mentioned before, so what exactly did the thief and/or thieves use to try and cut through it? A pocket knife? A pair of pliers? A claw hammer and a prayer to Thor, God of Thunder?

almost-stolen-bike-broken-chain-closeup
Bike: 1, Thieves: 0

Whatever they used, it didn’t work. My little bike chain held fast, and the thieves walked home using the dirty feet God gave them. I have to give credit where credit is due, however; they yanked on my bike so hard they managed to break off the kickstand. Seriously. Snapped it right off.

almost-stolen-bike-broken-bikestandalmost-stolen-bike-broken-off-bikestand

They bent the front rim so it rubs against the tire, and they even twisted the mount of my headlight so badly it snapped off completely a few days later, leaving the light itself to dangle in the air like an exhausted scrotum.

almost-stolen-bike-twisted-dynamo-headlightalmost-stolen-bike-broken-off-dynamo-headlight

So now, I get to lean my bike against things, rather than stand it upright, and I have to use clip-on lights to ride at night. Whatever. I can put up with these things. You know what really sucks though? They stole my bike pump.

Yes, I was fool enough to keep a €7 euro tire pump strapped to the back of my bike, but I was also idealist enough to assume an item of such little value would go ignored by even the lowest of criminals. Hell, I valued the €1 euro bungee chords wrapped around the rack on the back of my bike more than the pump itself, because a new pump is available at every Rossmann in Germany. But new bungee chords? Man, I gotta go all the way downtown for one of those sons of bitches.

In the words of Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction: “Boy, I wish I could’ve caught him doing it. I’d have given anything to catch that asshole doing it. It’d been worth him doing it just so I could’ve caught him doing it.” Can you imagine? Let’s say there were 3 of them, all visibly intoxicated. One dude is grunting like an ape, yanking on my bike chain with a pair of rusty pliers so hard he gives himself a hernia, another dude is dutifully holding the handlebars without a single conscious thought in his skull, and the third guy is throwing up in the blackberry bushes. “Aww forget it,” says the guy with the pliers. “Janez, quit screwin’ around in those bushes. We’re walkin’ home…” And then they all get drilled by a train as they cross the tracks.

Unfortunately, in good conscience, I cannot award the efforts of these would-be bicycle thieves with anything more than 1 out of 5 Merkel Diamonds:

Merkel-Diamonds-1-of-5

Seriously, if you can’t steal my bike, you can’t rightfully call yourself a German. A real German would have jacked my bike with premium bolt cutters and a sleek BMW getaway car, leaving a note behind, reading: “I am very sorry to have stolen your bicycle. Do not blame the Polish. Please write a letter of complaint to your bicycle lock manufacturer.”

– – – – –

Would you like to read another blog post about life as an expat? You might like this one: American Expat in Germany Nearly Killed by an Acorn, Vents His Shame upon the Biggest Spider in the Universe

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21 thoughts

  1. Well, I don’t supposed you can really say you’ve been initiated into Germany yet, since your bike wasn’t actually stolen. It is beyond odd that they mutilated it, however. Maybe they weren’t Germans; maybe they were just drunk Americans.

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  2. A german thief with a BMW would not have stolen that bike or any bike … Rather a drunk student wishing to get home from the station. That he did not succeed to overcome the 10 € chain says he cannot have been a student at the FH – those are more practical. And you should not look out for a body builder – those would have just torn the chain apart. Rather look for a philosophy student with marxist tendencies (“What belongs to you belongs to me – and what belongs to me is no concern of yours.”) You are welcome.

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  3. The day the Baader-Meinhof bandits/terrorists/revolutionaries knocked over a bank in Kaiserslautern, security was increased on the US Army kaserne where I lived.

    To gain admittance to the fenced-in kaserne, you had to show your military ID to a guard selected from the dregs of the post who otherwise would have spent their days smoking cigarettes so they’;d have something to toss on the ground so they’d have to pick it up when they were on “police” duty (picking up cigarette butts and such): They were not the brightest of the bright, and they had loaded rifles, so we went along.

    On that very day of increased security, my Peugeot touring bike was stolen on the very kaserne then under armed guard! I never got it back. The thief stole the bike lock with the bike, and must have cut it off in the privacy of his barracks room.

    Fortunately, though, I’d messed it up learning how to maintain a bike. The chain always slipped off when you shifted gears, for example, and the brakes were, well, problematic, thanks to my efforts to “fix” them.

    A friend and I went to Metz, where for a good price I was able to buy the same model Peugeot with the cool yellow-lensed French market version headlamp and a bunch of repair items.

    The one I bought in Germany, then had stolen, with luck, broke and killed the thief in downtown traffic. At least I like to think that’s what happened.

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  4. Huh, they probably tried to cycle away with it, unaware that it was still chained, busting the chain in the process, twisting the handle bar and severing the kickstand and the light. That would also explain the blunt “cut” on the chain. Stupid, drunk bums! I hope they got hurt falling off that bike of yours!

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  5. I once bought the shittiest bike ever from the Frankfurt flea market, and wanted to get rid of it. I left it without any lock on Zeil, the Frankfurt high street. I waited a week. Kept going back.
    My bike was so shitty no one would even steal it, and I had to pay for someone to come and take it away.

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  6. What a bunch of Hanswursts. I’ve gone through two bikes now in Berlin, one of which was stolen during my second week of living here. Also a €50 bike (probably stolen from its previous owner, and the one before that, and so on) with a €10 lock. His name was Hermann and he had multiple personalities. Some days he was extra squeaky. Some days the headlight worked, some not.

    The second one we fatefully named Karma. I will forever blame it for the great bicycle crash of August 2014, when the tire got stuck and sent me flying, drawing an impressive crowd of 6 people to help me back onto my feet.

    I gave up on biking after that.

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  7. Bastards! I had my bike stolen. They were nice enough to leave the snipped-through cable type chain and left that for me. To be honnest, I really didn’t like the bike. It hurt my… butt anyway…

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