Stolen bicycles are almost never recovered and all it takes is a momentary lapse of concentration and bam, it’s gone! So how do you prevent bicycle theft?
The # 1 place for bicycles to be stolen from is your home, particularly the garage. Most garages open to the street, making the contents of the garage visible to anyone on the street. If you can’t guarantee that your garage door will stay closed at all times, we suggest you lock your bikes to something solid in the garage. Talk with your family and remind everyone how important it is to keep the garage door closed.
Public bicycle racks in the city, at trail stations, or on campus are the next most common theft locations. This is most likley because the bicycle is locked to the rack on a regular basis and for long periods of time. Youtube is full of videos of “pretend” thieves “stealing” their own bicycle to see how the police and passers by react to a man with a grinding tool cutting a chain with sparks flying 20 feet in the air. You might be surprised that very few people paid attention, although it could also be that they don’t want to question the honesty of a person wielding a cutting tool.
If you are a bicycle commuter and lock your bike to an outside rack, it is important to make the safety of your bike a priority. Only use quality locks and methods of security. In the event that a thief is in the area and sees your bike, he is likely to move on to the easy-to-steal bicycle secured with a cheap cable or lock.
Imagine this: you return to your bicycle locked to the rack where you left it, but it is now also secured to the rack with a second unknown lock. What do you do?
If you leave the bike locked to the rack overnight, it will be gone by morning. If you call the police, how do you prove to them it is your bicycle? It is, after all, secured with a lock you can’t open. If you call a locksmith, you will face the same proof of ownership question.
Be smarter than the bicycle thieves. Register your bicycle with the police. Then place a copy of the registration card in a Ziploc bag inside the seatpost and handlebar end or engrave the registration number into the bike frame. Show the police or locksmith your registration card that matches the cards in the bike or the frame engraving.
Another scenario: You return to your bike after a long day at work and both tires are flat. Do not leave your bike with the plan of returning for it later. Instead, unlock the bike and push it home or to public transport. If you leave your bike and hope to return to fix it, it will most likely be gone. Once the crowds disappear from the city streets, so do thief tricked bikes.
If you ride the bus with your bicycle affixed to the rack at the front, always lock the bike to the rack itself. If the transportation authority will not allow bicycles to be locked to the bus rack, at the very least, lock the back wheel to the bicycle frame. Bus bike thieves often wait at bus stops until they see a nice bike on the bus rack. Then they board the bus for 1 stop, disembark, grab the nice bike, and pedal away. Locking the bicycle back wheel means the thief can’t ride away. Once realizing that, the thief will presumably abandon the bike.
There is no denying that bicycle theft is a growing business. FBI statistics state that a bicycle is stolen every 2 minutes in the U.S. High value bicycles are a particular target for bike thieves. The only way to combat theft is to make your bicycle as theft resistant as possible. This can be accomplished by spending $100+ on high quality U-locks and heavy chains that are too much work for the average thief to consider. The rule of thumb is to spend 10% of the bike’s value on a solid U-lock and chain. Even if your bicycle is not of high value, a quality solid lock is the only difference between riding home or walking home.