Reader David sent along a link to a hack that an inventor came up with in 1899 to help deter bicycle theft. Who knows if locks were in vogue two centuries ago, but this hack leads me to believe that bikes were left out a lot and people were growing frustrated with theft.
The idea was to engage a needle that would stick up through the seat while the bicycle was not in use. The following text and picture are both credited to the blog Futility Closet:
Apparently vexed by bicycle thieves, Adolph Neubauer had a bright idea in 1899: Crank needles up through the seat when the bike wasn’t in use “and thus prevent any one from mounting the bicycle without serious injury.”
He got the patent in 1900. Whether it worked is unknown.
I think that this hack would be an impossible deterrent these days because of crafty lawyers. I am sure if a bike thief stole a bike and got injured, they would sue the owner of the bike damages, even though they broke the law in stealing the bike. Anyone with a legal background feel free to critique my skepticism.