Unfortunately it is horribly easy to have your bike stolen – some thieves make use of the fact that bikes come with wheels to make a quick get-away and others throw your pride and joy into a van and disappear with it in seconds.
There is no fool proof way to avoid getting your bike stolen – but there are ways to reduce the risk.
- Always lock your bike up even if you are only leaving it unattended for a minute and even if the bike is stored inside a shed.
- Always use a good lock – preferably two. Cheap locks may save you a few pounds when you buy them, but could cost you hundreds in the long term. Some people give guidance of spending 20% of the bike’s value on locks, not sure how scientific this is, but it is worth thinking about. Look for “Sold Secure” markings on the locks.
- Always lock to something attached to the ground and which the thief cannot simply lift the bike off. There have been cases where a cyclist has locked the bike to a post and the thief has simply lifted the bike and lock up to ‘unhook’ the bike and take it away. (Ask the Prime Minister).
- Where possible, leave the bike in a busy area with lots of pedestrians – nice quiet areas are not a good idea as the thief will have the area to him/herself as he/she works at stealing your bike.
- Secure all the bits of the bike – if you have quick release wheels, lock them to the frame (the clue is in the name!), if you have removable lights, remove them when you leave the bike.
- Try to keep locks off the ground – thieves can smash them easier if they are lying on a nice hard surface.
- With shackle (“U” or “D” locks), try to get them to fit snuggly – if there is a gap, thieves can insert tools to help them break the lock.
This all sounds a bit grim – and sadly there are lots of bikes stolen – but following this guidance can help. Also think about insurance (makes the pain less painful) and get your bike marked and registered on a database. There is not one single database at present – but you can get details of the schemes in operation at the London Cycle Campaign’s website. At a minimum make a note of the frame number of your bike and keep it secure (the frame number is stamped into the frame – sometimes right at the bottom).
For ideas for storing your bike at home, try the Cyclescheme’s useful guide.
This goes without saying really, but one thing you can do which will help others to avoid having their bikes stolen is NEVER to buy a second hand bike from anyone if you have any doubts where it came from. If people didn’t buy stolen bikes, far fewer would be nicked – one person’s ‘bargain‘ is another person’s miserable experience.