Ding. Sebastian Stoll is sitting at his desk. He’s startled by the piercing sound from his smartphone. He immediately sits bolt upright and instinctively reaches for his phone. It’s 11.43. “New theft. Tracker number 1267823*,” he mumbles quietly to himself and stares at the screen. Feeling the adrenalin rush inside, the 33-year-old doesn’t hesitate a second. He opens his laptop up to find out more. He soon establishes the theft took place on his home turf. Thieves have struck on the Miltitzer Allee in the west of Leipzig, not far from his home. “I can even help with the search,” he affirms.
What the thief evidently didn’t know is that the bicycle owner had the specialist retailer fit an IT’S MY BIKE GPS tracker into her bike. This tracker allows her to determine the position of her bike in an app and report a theft to the police instantly. Based in Darmstadt and Berlin, the start-up company IT’S MY BIKE has developed a new type of service world for electric bike riders. Services even include recovery after a theft. They offer a key unique selling proposition: customers are not left to fend for themselves after their bike is stolen. On the contrary, a team actively coordinates the search in the background, communicating with them and the police.
Sebastian now retrieves more information on the stolen e-bike besides its last position on his computer: brand, colour and frame number. As recommended by IT’S MY BIKE, users add these details in the app to make work easier for the police and provide instant identification of the vehicle in the event of a theft. He then analyses other data. The most recent allows him to see in his overview that the bike had last moved between 10.12 and 10.15 but without being switched on. “Does that mean it was carried away?” he wonders.
11:53: Sebastian quickly dials the customer’s number on his mobile. The victim takes the call in an instant and answers the IT’S MY BIKE employee’s questions in an agitated voice. How was the bike secured? Had the customer already reported the theft to the police? What exactly had happened and when? Sebastian learns that she was visiting a friend and had secured her e-bike with a frame lock in front of the friend’s building. However, she had not fastened it to a fixed object, contrary to what experts strongly recommend. Sebastian’s suspicion that the bike was carried away is confirmed. The police had already informed the customer this was the case by ‘phone.
12:14: Sebastian dials 110 and explains to the police why he is calling and how exactly the GPS tracker built into the e-bike works. He then informs the officer where the bike was last located and forwards a photo of the bike and additional information. This will help the police to identify the bike quickly and easily at a later stage. As with all thefts, Sebastian now discusses how they wish to proceed. The officers immediately set off to the scene of the crime with the details in hand. Unfortunately, the GPS signal is not precise enough right now to locate the bike exactly.
12:53: While the police operation is launched, Sebastian also rides his bike to the area where the bike was last located. On arriving, he first assesses the situation at the scene of the crime, questions witnesses and local residents, and searches basements, underground garages and the surrounding area. He questions employees in a pharmacy, who even let him look at the recordings from their security camera. Unfortunately, there are no clear indications as to the whereabouts of the stolen bicycle. The person at the front desk in the friend’s apartment building offers an important piece of information. She had seen a suspicious person and describes his appearance and clothing in detail: a short, middle-aged man smoking a cigarette, dressed in tattered clothes, black trousers.
19:02: Sebastian is still in the area. It’s the end of an exhausting day of work. Disappointed, he heads towards home. Sadly, his search was not successful today but he’s still confident. In his experience with thefts, he knows: “Sooner or later, the thief will move the bike, we’ll then pick up an optimal GPS signal again and we’ll find the bike.”
Two days later
Ding. Sebastian immediately reaches for his phone. It’s 7.56. “A stolen bike has emitted a GPS signal. Tracker 1267823*” states the short message on the screen. The bike had already reported in via the mobile phone network on more than one occasion since the evening two days ago and the IT’S MY BIKE team had wondered what exactly the perpetrator was doing. Is he dismantling the bike into individual parts to sell them off? Is he trying to pick the frame lock? The mobile phone data clearly showed that the e-bike must still be in the immediate area around the crime scene.
Sebastian’s hunting instincts are aroused. He dials 110. Luckily, the police happen to be in the area and quickly arrive on the scene. After 44 nerve-racking hours, they finally seize the bike leaning against a fence near some waste containers. The details from the app regarding the model, colour and frame number had confirmed that it was the stolen bike they were looking for.
09:00: The smiling customer takes her bike back. Sebastian is happy and relieved. “The lock was damaged, but the thief had apparently not managed to pick it. That’s why he simply left the e-bike on the street again,” he concludes. “My team and I are extremely eager to retrieve e-bikes every time one is stolen,” states a pleased Sebastian. “We’re proud of our success rate of over 80 percent.”
*Tracker number changed.