With a current cost of living crisis and many people finding it harder to make ends meet, the temptation for thieves to make some quick extra cash by lifting and selling bikes on is growing ever greater. Admitted by an ex-thief, bikes are easy to make some quick cash in hand with – especially high-value bikes, called ‘golds’, that are quick at resale, often giving experienced thieves anything up to £1k on a Saturday night alone.
Stolen bikes are often sold on, broken down for parts or even resprayed within hours of them being taken. The statistics show that a staggering amount of nearly 78,000 bikes were stolen in 2022 alone, and, unless bike owners get a bit savvier this figure will likely rise next year. The scary thing is that most bike owners don’t even bother to lock them up or register them. The police are so stretched, so very few bike theft cases are resolved, and a large number that are recovered can’t be returned as they’re not registered.
Here are a few ways that you might become a victim of bike theft and how best to avoid them.
1. Register it
Very few people bother registering their bike, even though it’s so easy to do – and free. All you have to do is take photos of your bike and of any distinguishing marks, as well as the serial number on the frame and upload them to the National Cycle Database. Keep a bike file at home with receipts indicating the make and model, a full description of your bike with photos and any modifications you’ve made to it too. An added security is to mark it with a sticker, UV tag or even a GPS tracking device which links to an app on your phone.
These steps will mean that if your wheels do get nicked, the police have a way to prove it’s yours and you have a far greater chance of getting it returned. Make sure you’re in the tiny percentage of owners who get their ride back, and not in the larger group that doesn’t!
2. Lock it
It seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but so many bikes get stolen because their owners just don’t lock them up. They might just be popping into a corner shop for a matter of seconds, but this is a gift to a speculative thief who only needs those seconds to hop on and pedal your pride and joy away.
If you’ve got a half-decent bike of a brand that will tempt a thief for its resale value, then you need to invest a decent amount into your bike security. The police recommend using two different types of lock as a thief will need different tools to get through them – making their job harder or putting them off completely.
A D-lock should ideally be as close to the frame as possible to prevent a thief from being able to get a good angle for bolt cutters. Cable locks, chains less than 14mm and D-locks of the same size take a mere snip to get through, so investing in quality locks is vital. Always pass your locks or chains through the wheels, frame and something immovable – like a piece of street furniture or a ground anchor. Alarmed locks add an extra layer of security, emitting an ear-piercing shriek when they’re tampered with, ensuring all the attention in the locality is quickly fixed on the thief and what they’re doing and, hopefully, scaring the scum bag off! Image4Security has an impressive range of alarmed locks, chains and alarmed padlocks.
3. Park it
Think about where and how you park your bike. Don’t leave it in a place that’s too quiet or too overcrowded. An isolated place is perfect for a thief as there’s no one around to see what they’re doing, and paradoxically an overcrowded space is equally problematic, as no one wants to intervene and stand out from the crowd.
The best spots are in areas of relatively high footfall, well-lit and near a CCTV camera. Ideally, don’t lock up near lots of other bikes as it’s also easier for a thief to pose as a bike owner just taking their own ride out of the racks.
4. Store it
At home, the safest place to keep your bike is inside, with you. There are plenty of inside storage solutions for bikes too, even ones that don’t require drilling into walls for renters. But sometimes, your house just doesn’t have enough space, so make sure you follow the locking and parking suggestions and lock up to something solid and immovable in a well-lit area.
If you have a shed or garage, you can make them super secure with a shed or garage lock, such as our Guardsman range. Add a ground anchor and couple it with an alarmed lock or chain to deter thieves even further when the ear-splitting 120dB alarm starts to sound, giving you time to call for backup. When you lock it up, keep it secure by removing any parts you can take away, like quick release wheels or saddle, and cover it up too – if it’s not visible, it might not catch the eye of a potential thief.
5. Check it
The other way you could end up a victim of bike theft is if you end up buying a stolen bike yourself, as the police could end up reclaiming it – and you’ll lose your money and the bike! To check that you aren’t unwittingly buying a stolen bike, check the serial number against the BikeRegister, National Cycle Database and ask to see receipts before you hand over the cash if you are looking at making a second-hand purchase.
What to do if your bike does get stolen
If you do get your ride nicked, then first off – report it to the police online or by calling 101, along with all the info you have of photos and serial number and then start checking out social media. The most popular places to try and sell stolen bikes are eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, so keep your eye on them to see if your bike gets posted.
You might find local community cycle groups or bike shops who will help post about your stolen bike, to see if someone knows anything, or has seen it. You will also need to inform your insurer if you’re likely to make a claim – so having a file of information will prove invaluable here too.
Image4Security has a comprehensive range of security items for bicycles and we understand how to help you make it as hard as possible for a thief to steal your bicycle. With many years of designing a great range of alarmed locks, high-grade chains and security for garages and sheds, we have the expertise to give you the most informative advice on how to make the job of stealing your bike as challenging as possible.
For expert and friendly advice, get in touch today to find out how to best layer up security for your bike.