Whether through web-based tracking or old-timey brute force, stealing a bike still seems easy. Far easier than getting the damn thing back. All you bike-theft victims, disregard the recent case of a Washington, D.C., man spotting his stolen ride on Craigslist and executing a flawless extraction. You'll never get that lucky.
But who even knows the odds? By one estimate, only half of bike thefts are even reported. Of those, bike-recovery rates seem minuscule — police departments don't separate bike thefts from petty thefts overall. Your thin hope lies in doing a little homework, pre-theft.
One cautionary tale. Several months ago, some turd-blossom stole the lovely leather saddle from my town bike, parked near the Metreon downtown, as I was enjoying The Adventures of Tintin. (I really should have chained the seat to my frame, or settled for something dowdier.)
Then, poking around Craiglist a few weeks back, I spotted my beloved, or so I was convinced. My better judgment took a good long nap while I dialed the seller and set up a meeting near the 16th Street BART station. Obviously, I had a plan: Grab the goods and scram.