079 · Bike Hunter: Find Stolen Electric Bikes And Scooters

Earn money in the form of rewards by finding electric bikes, or any other valuable connected object, that has been stolen from its owner. It’s an emerging market with a lot of potential, but where everything has yet to be invented as we’ll see in this article.

What is a bike hunter?

Today, I’d like to share with you an innovative idea for making money. After discovering this practice in a very interesting report on the French-German channel ARTE, I thought it was a great idea and thought I should tell you about it here because, after all, it’s kind of the purpose of this site.

Here’s the idea: As you may have noticed, the market for electric bikes and scooters is booming, especially in Europe and North America, but also in some Asian countries. Unfortunately, the number of thefts of these expensive machines is also on the rise. The idea would be to offer an investigation service specialized in finding stolen or lost bikes/scooters, in exchange of course for a reward in the event of success.

Given that some of these individual means of transport can cost up to several thousand euros, there’s no doubt that some owners would be willing to pay a reasonably high sum to find it. What’s more, most electric bikes and scooters are now equipped with GPS transmitters, making them easy to geolocate.

But then, you might ask, why shouldn’t the owner go and find it himself? You’re right, and some probably will, but not all. There are many reasons for this (lack of free time, fear of coming face-to-face with the thief, laziness, etc.). What’s more, even with geolocation, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact location of a stolen object since GPS systems can be dozens or even hundreds of meters off the mark. So, finding it in a densely populated area (e.g., a neighborhood full of apartment blocks) can be extremely difficult. In addition, in some cases the bike or scooter may have left the city or even the country, making the task even more difficult.

How do I get started as a bike hunter?

To my knowledge, there are very few bike hunters currently in business. The only real example I know of is the one I mentioned at the beginning of the previous paragraph. In this report, we follow two students hired by Dutch electric bike manufacturer VanMoof to track down their brand’s bikes that have been reported stolen. But apart from that, my Google searches turned up practically nothing.

If you decide to take the risk of starting up this idea, and become something of a pioneer in the hunt for stolen bikes, you’ll need to develop specific skills, find the right methods yourself to investigate effectively, and have a success rate that doesn’t stagnate at zero.

You’ll also need to work in collaboration with the owner or manufacturer of the bikes/electric scooters as access to location data isn’t always open to everyone. Above all, you’ll need to work with the local police because once you’ve recovered a bike, breaking into the thief’s home to retrieve it is out of the question. There’s a procedure defined by law that has to be followed, so you’ll have no choice but to work with the police.

But the hardest part at first will probably be finding “customers” who will entrust you with the investigation and the mission of recovering their property. Hence the importance of communicating with manufacturers and the police since they are the ones who have contact with the victims of these thefts. Alternatively, you can also visit the stores that sell this type of vehicle and explain your approach, publish ads on sites consulted by users, create a small website, and promote it on Google, and social networks, etc.

Not forgetting, of course, the insurance companies that offer this kind of coverage and would certainly be interested in this kind of service. Indeed, paying a reward to recover a stolen item will cost them considerably less than paying the full cost of buying a new one.

How do you go about finding a stolen bike or scooter?

As I haven’t found any specialist who can explain this procedure to me in detail, I’m going to have to use cognitive tools such as logic and common sense. So, please bear with me if you can think of another, more effective method (and if so, please let me know in the comments).

The first thing to do is to ask the owner if he or she has filed a theft complaint with the local police station. And if they haven’t, ask them to do so without delay. This won’t necessarily help you find the stolen bike or scooter, but it will give you a certain legitimacy to look for it and above all enable you to call in the police to recover it if you manage to find it.

Next, you’ll need to keep a regular watch on local classified ad sites, bike markets if there are any, but also flea markets as well as any other physical or Internet place where you can find this kind of object for sale secondhand. Thieves are sometimes foolish enough just to publish an advert in the local newspaper the day after their misdeed or in a market of some kind.

Then you’ll need to acquire access to the vehicle’s GPS location in order to track it down. To do this, the owner usually has an application provided by the brand on his or her smartphone. You should therefore be able to download this app onto your smartphone to use the geolocation function yourself. If not, you’ll need to contact the retailer or manufacturer to see what other solutions are available.

Finally, familiarize yourself with the different makes, models, and technologies. Learn more about the GPS tracking systems used on these bikes. Take training courses in search techniques, GPS tracking, and investigation to acquire the skills you need to locate stolen bikes. And keep abreast of technological advances in GPS tracking systems.

It’s a field that requires certain qualities such as intuition, patience, and tenacity, but also the ability to think on your feet because, as I said at the beginning of this article, everything about this particular subject has yet to be invented.

More connected objects to find

Tracking stolen objects fitted with GPS chips is not limited to electric bikes. The practice can be applied to other things such as motorcycles, scooters, drones, laptops, and so on. In fact, any connected object. A bike hunter’s skills can therefore be put to good use in a variety of sectors, so it’s up to you to discover other fields of application.

Conclusion

Becoming a bike hunter is an original idea and an adventure that can prove to be quite stimulating. It does, however, require investigative skills (which you’ll develop with time and experience) but also a certain sense of justice, and above all, perseverance and good intuition.

Of course, it won’t work everywhere but especially in cities where there are lots of electric bikes, but this kind of equipment can sometimes be very expensive, so I think there’s a real market opening up there. So, it’s up to you to find a way of making yourself known to all the players involved in a theft of this kind.

Most brand-name electric bikes are equipped with GPS transmitters, making them much easier to track than traditional bikes. On the other hand, their owners often don’t have the time or the skills to look for them themselves, which is why it’s useful to have investigators to deal with this kind of crime (the police are already overworked, so it’s not up to them to do it).

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Whether or not this idea is eco-friendly will depend on the type of transport you use during your investigations. Most of the time, these bikes and scooters don’t end up very far from where they were stolen, so you could use a bike or other low-GHG-emission means of transport yourself. Alternatively, you can use public transport to get around urban areas.

Pros

  • You’ll become a kind of private detective 😋
  • A large part of your job will involve walking around
  • New “profession” so no competition for the moment

Cons

  • No guarantee that it’ll work out (even if you have a better chance in Amsterdam than in Austin, TX).
  • It’s new, so everything remains to be invented or found
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

Please also note that there are currently NO affiliate links on Sweekr! This means that NO commission is charged when you make a purchase from any of the sites recommended here. Some links are optimized for performance testing only, and each recommendation reflects the opinions or evaluations of the writer of this article. And be sure you'll be notified if (and when) this situation ever changes.

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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