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IT bloke: Crooks stole my bikes after cycling app blabbed my address

Brit suffers from GPS accuracy

An IT manager in Manchester, England, says thieves stole his bikes after a smartphone cycling app pinpointed the location of his garage.

Mark Leigh, 54, of Failsworth, said his two bicycles – worth £500 ($750) and £1,000 ($1,500) – were nicked shortly after he made his address and details of his bikes public on the popular biking app Strava, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The app includes an optional privacy setting that conceals the exact location of your home, but Leigh was not aware of this switch when he shared details of his bike rides via the software. Strava encourages people to publish their routes and journey times to make the application more engaging among enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, doing so tips off crooks as to where bikes are kept and when they are not in use.

"I'd come back from a ride around the Saddleworth hills, which I tracked on Strava," Leigh told the newspaper. "I locked my bike in the garage next to another one. The following morning my garage had been cleverly broken into and they were gone."

Leigh notes that his garage is not very visible and is at the end of a narrow cul-de-sac. The fact that only the bikes were stolen, where there were lots of other valuable items in the garage, and there were no other break-ins nearby leads him to believe the thieves must have been using Strava as a way to find easy targets.

His fears were confirmed by an organizer of a local cycling club who told the paper that he had lots of reports in recent months where bicycles had been stolen and the owners suspected it was due to their use of cycling apps advertising their location.

All of which is a timely reminder to people over why they should be careful about what apps they use, what information they share, and why it's worthwhile spending a bit of time digging into the privacy settings that many apps now offer. ®

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