This spring, while the gyms were closed, everyone went out and bought bikes. Welcome to the fold, and congrats on your new bike!
Here are some great ways to help protect your investment from theft.
Insure the bike with your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance. Your insurance agent will need a photo of the bike, the serial number, purchase price or value, and make/model/year.
Buy a really big lock. Even better, buy two different kinds of big locks. Register your key with the lock company. Sign up for their theft protection plan, if they have one. Using two different types of locks, like a U-lock and a chain lock, means that a thief might have to use two different tools to steal your bike.
Do not buy a cable lock. They are the easiest to defeat, and some can even be cut with fingernail clippers. Get a U-lock or chain or armored cable. Get something better than big-box brand chain. You will need to go to a local bike shop to find this stuff.
Your kids should lock up their bikes, too. The best lock is the one they can carry and use.
Practice good locking strategy. Lock in obvious, well-lit places. Lock to permanent objects, even if it means you have to walk a little further to your destination. Lock through the frame first, wheels second.
Lock the bike every time you walk away from it. Even if you’re popping into the store for just a few minutes.
At home, always store the bike indoors, or under a cover. If you can avoid it – never leave your bike outside at night. But if you must leave it outside, lock it well, and also use a tarp, a motorcycle cover, or a grill cover. Try to find one without any branding.
When you have time, write your name and address on a piece of paper, and stick it in a ziplock bag. Then, take out your seatpost, and tape it inside. Double-insurance in case your serial number can’t be identified!
Keep the bike locked up when you’re not riding it. Even if it’s indoors. Lock it to something permanent if you can.
Secure your apartment/house/storage area. If your bike is on the balcony, make sure the bike is covered and out of sight. Keep your doors locked and windows closed while you’re sleeping or away from the house.
Register the bike with BikeIndex.org with photos, make, model, and serial number.
Add a GPS or Bluetooth tracker to the bike. Tile is cheap, and the more people who have it, the more effective the network becomes.
Always lock your bike. Thieves are opportunists. Your bike is secure as long as someone else has locked their own bike a little less secure.
For even more tips, read Saint Sheldon Brown’s page on lock technique. Pay close attention to his U-locking strategy — it is very clever.
Plus, there are about a million other resources there, it’s a great spot to learn.
If the worst happens, and your bike is stolen, you need to act quickly.
File a police report with the make, model, color of the bike, description, and serial number. Keep track of your police report number. If you can, have the police meet you at the site of the theft. If they already have your bike – and the info matches up – you might get reunited! Do not call the police to chase down a thief. You are calling the police so that your insurance company has a paper record of the theft.
Notify your insurance company of the bike theft.
Advertise locally of the theft – with a clear photo and description. (Facebook, Craigslist, Letgo, OfferUp, eBay, others)
Check with local residents or businesses to see if anyone has camera footage during the time your bike went missing.
Notify your lock company of the theft – with photos of the remains of the lock, if any.
Trawl local sales sites for your bike. There’s a chance it’s already listed for sale!
Watch your neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods for your bike. There’s also a good chance it hasn’t gone far.
Ultimately, just lean on your insurance. Be glad you had that policy – and use it to upgrade your wheels.
Tears will be shed. But would you rather be crying, or riding a new bike?
If you didn’t have insurance, start over with a budget bike from the Topeka Community Cycle Project, and a really good lock.