How to stop your bike from being stolen
Bike security is a serious concern for cyclists and anyone who's thinking of taking up cycling - thousands of machines are stolen every year: 327,000, in fact, from April 2015 - March 2016 in England and Wales. This data suggests that around 26 out of every 1,000 bike-owning households were affected by bike theft.
There has been a slight decrease in bicycle theft recently, but the number of thefts of or from motor vehicles has been falling steadily, and much more steeply, for years.
The sad thing about bike theft is that stolen cycles are hardly ever recovered and research by University College London shows many people just give up cycling when their bike is taken.
If you cannot park your bike behind a locked door whenever you leave it, you need a bike lock. Some locks are truly awful. Some cable locks can just be cut with a pair of scissors. U-locks with cylindrical keys have famously been picked with a Biro pen top, forcing a mass recall by a manufacturer. And very cheap U-locks can be sawn through with a junior hacksaw in minutes. While any lock is better than no lock, it helps to be aware of the level of protection you’re buying.
How do I lock my bike?
Location, location, location
Thieves don’t like an audience, so lock your bike in a public place rather than down an alleyway. Try and lock your bike somewhere covered by CCTV. Always choose a place that is well lit.
More than half of all bike thefts are from the owners' property. At home, if you have space in your house, keep your bikes locked inside. If you use a shed or a garage, consider using a floor or wall-mounted anchor lock for extra security. A battery operated alarm for your shed is also a good idea to deter thieves. Buy a decent lock for your shed, one that can't just be unscrewed with a screwdriver.
What lock should I buy?
What else can I do?
What to do if your bike gets stolen
- If, despite your precautions, your bike does get stolen, report the theft to the police. Dial 999 if the theft is in progress.
- Dial the police non-emergency number 101 or visit the local police station if it has happened. It’s unlikely the police will catch the thief red-handed, but it’s a requirement of insurance policies. Don't forget to ask for a crime reference number. This will help you trace the progress of your case.
- If your cycle is stolen from a train or tube station call the British Transport Police on 0800 405 040.
- Check Ebay and Gumtree to see if it is being sold on. You can sign up for alerts for bikes that match your stolen bike's description. The bike may also be broken up and the parts sold on via these sites.
- Share the fact your bike has been stolen on Facebook and Twitter.
- Let your local bike shop know too, in case someone brings it in for repair.