I have had two bikes stolen from me in New York. Both were locked to a steel gate with a U-lock.
Is this a serious incident?
Yes. First, what kind of person steals a locked bike? It must be someone who cares nothing about other people. Someone who regards himself as, in a sense, as the only important person in the world.The philosophers call this "solipsism". The psychologists call this "insane". To steal a bike is to make yourself loathsome in your own eyes, because you will loath those who steal from you. It's a form of suicide of your self-respect and dignitity. Stealing a bike is therefore harmful to the offender.
Yes. Second, what does stealing a locked bike do to our community? It dissolves it. There are two things holding a community together: trust, and force. For every measure of trust lost, a measure of force must take its place. Those who have had their bike stolen, have had their trust violated. It has also diminshed the authority and claim to your allegiance the social system. If you have surrendered your right to punish offenders to the state and the city, they have an obligation to ensure that you will not suffer harm. If not, you are the fool. Stealing a bike makes a fool of the victim and a mockery of our institutions.
My third bike is standing outside, visible from my window, and locked with a U-lock. My baseball bat is within reach.