Check That Bike! Has Been Retired.
A lack of cooperation from the larger UK bike/property registers and UK police forces has meant that I have taken the decision to close Check That Bike! for the foreseeable future.
What was Check That Bike?
Check That Bike! was an effort to combine all the separate sources of stolen bike information (police, property registers, insurers and manufacturers).
It did this in three ways:
- Interacting with the search engines of sources with public information on the users behalf (property/bike registers, manufacturers)
- Getting data sent to us for manual input (cycle insurers)
- Attempting to get information from police forces via negotiation and Freedom of Information Requests
The idea being that a visitor who performs a single search, checks as many sources of information as possible (8+). If anything of interest is then found then the visitor is advised to visit that service for verification (and possible to report they know where the bike is!).
How Successful was it?
Well the goal of combining police forces stolen bike information was achieved (something the UK police forces seem incapable of doing) without significant costs to the tax payers usually associated with government administered IT.
Several, other sources of information such as insurers; manufacturers; and property registers were also combined and allowed a user to search all these sources in one go.
Some figures to sum up what was achieved by CTB:
- 5.4 million individual queries (a request to an external source for information)
- 218,968 queries resulted in a frame number being flagged as potentially stolen
- The Open (and free) API received over 270,000 requests in the last 30 days from other web developers exploring bike theft and developing their own applications to combat bike theft
What were the pitfalls, why have I pulled the plug?
Unfortunately, the data received from police forces (the main reason for starting this service) was inconsistent and required a significant time investment on my part to combine into something usable so was only performed a couple of times. With GDPR legislation now coming into play the precedent that was set is no longer valid and I don’t have the time/funds to hire another solicitor to fight my corner (again). Attempting to work with the police directly can be best described as herding cats with very few officers willing to engage on the issue and even though some tried their best ultimately the data never arrives.
Property registers also took exception (one could argue with good reason) for various reasons and requested that a machine not be used to query the publicly available search functionality they provide. Today the last large register in the UK decided to ask me not to query their information which I have to respect and so I’ve taken the decision to pull the plug on the project until such a time that this appears to be workable again.
Maybe I’ll find someone that wants to take the project on, I’ve already been approached by an ex-detective who is interested in starting a service in the UK so that is an option I will be exploring.
In addition, if things change I will be back. However, I feel like I’ve given it a good shot Check That Bike! has been running as a service since 2013 and in addition to running this site (and Find That Bike/Stolen Bikes UK) I work a full time job so it hasn’t always been easy to make the time needed to run the site properly. Offering free web services unfortunately doesn’t pay nearly as much as people think and that has been a significant time sink all be it for something I’m passionate about.
John Moss – twitter.com/x41x41x41
35 Sources of Data
Including police forces, registers and insurers.
Over 70,000 Stolen BikesTen times more than other bike checking services.
Open StatisticsOur KPI information is available to anyone.
Open DataWe are working to get police forces to openly release stolen property information.
Clear GuidanceWe provide the information you need to avoid buying a stolen bike.
Mobile FriendlyOur responsive website works on both mobiles and tablets.
Why Check That Bike?
We run checks against over 70,000 records provided by Police Forces, bicycle insurers and stolen property registers. Our records represent the most comprehensive free search you can do when buying a used bicycle.
GMP Police Officer