We feel sorry that your bike got stolen recently; we all have been through this; it is a widely known ratio that every 1 in 5 bikers would have their bike stolen within the first six months of their purchase.
We request you to stop being anxious and avoid stalling the process of finding because you feel there’s no hope. With quick conscious and correct steps, it is likely possible to retrieve your bike.
It doesn’t matter if you had the carbon fiber race machine or a rusted clunker that has been with you from your college days; the thief will steal it if they see a chance.
It is not a tiny problem because according to the FBI’s statistics report in 2019, bikes were represented at 3.1% of larceny-theft, second only to big motor vehicles.
The stealing rate of cycles alone in England and Wales is 88.3 thousand in 2019/20. It is safe to say that bike theft has always been a full-fledged problem, especially in all metropolitan cities.
We recommend you go through this guide and explore the most crucial and helpful advice, tips, and tricks to help you in your situation.
Three Golden Rules
#1 Know Your Bike’s Serial Number
Knowing a serial number always comes in handy in reporting and lodging the complaint to the police. People on the streets can also identify it with the help of the serial number.
You can find your bike’s serial number on the rear dropout, head tube, or any metal part of the bike.
Various companies and models keep on changing the serial number placement according to the manufacturing and production procedure.
Find the serial number and store it in your diary, text it to someone close or keep it in your computer or mobile phone’s notes.
Run through your photos and find a few pictures of your bike for people and police to identify.
If you are reading this as a safety precaution, we recommend noting down the serial number and clicking good-quality pictures in the daylight to be on the safer side.
While you are at it, collect and keep other documentation like the warranty card and purchase invoice safely to not waste your precious time when the event occurs.
#2 Report Theft To The Police
Many people feel that reporting the theft to the police can be a futile attempt considering the number of unattended cases.
But the fact is most of the stolen bikes eventually get tracked down by the police, but only five percent get returned because of lack of owner’s information.
Therefore it is wise not to spend a lot of time thinking and reach the station yourself or call a police officer to file the report at the place of the incident.
Make sure you have the serial number, photos, and other documentation with you. If there is an eyewitness, make sure that the police take their statement too.
Finding the bike in the first few hours is highly possible; therefore, do not waste time. Police also have better resources that they can help allocate to help you find your ride.
Even if you aren’t insured, make sure to head to the police station and diligently file a report.
#3 Register Your Bicycle
Do not panic if you haven’t done it in advance. If your bike is stolen from any part of the city, mainly residential and school institutional areas, we suggest registering your bike on Bike Index.
Bike Index is an excellent platform if you reside in the US; if you live in the UK, we recommend Bike Register.
You have to inform the community about your stolen bike with its picture and serial number. These registries are very responsive.
Your chances of getting your bike back drastically improve if the model is unique or if you have electric specialty bikes. Your search aims to optimize as many resources as you can.
If you inform and do ten things, you are likely to get some lead, clue, or address from at least one source.
My Bike Got Stolen Recently: Can I Investigate By Myself?
Now that you have done all the responsible things of registering and reporting to the police. It is time to get the matter into your own hands.
If you have sentimental values attached to the bike or have some time to investigate on your own, we request you to start a search from your end too.
Follow these simple steps to increase the chances of finding your bike:
Alert all the local pawn shops
The chances of finding your bike this way are very thin, but it is still possible.
Call or meet the owner of the local pawn shops and give them a description and model number of your bike, along with the serial number.
Sometimes, thieves turn to pawn shops to get quick cash. Inform the owner that the police are also behind the culprit.
If your city holds a flea market, we highly recommend paying a visit. They usually have a massive collection of stolen bikes and parts.
If you have the luxury of spare time, try to visit as many flea markets as you can around your area. If you spot the bike, you can tell the seller to return it or call the police to take the required action.
Most sellers will return if you show them the documents and police reports; they do not want to get exposed and wish to avoid a police visit as much as possible.
Checking on Craigslist is one of the easiest and quick ways to find your bike by searching through the “Bike Stolen” section.
Often, if the thief doesn’t want to go through breaking down the cycle and repainting it, they turn to Craigslist, Gumtree, eBay for simple, fast and easy money.
If you spot your bike on the website, do not do the amateur thing of paying a visit to the seller alone. Visiting a seller on craigslist is way riskier than seeing flea market sellers.
Ensure you have informed the police, take an officer with you or let the officer bid for the product and meet the seller.
If you see your bike on any of these websites, you can be assured that it will be with you in a few hours. You have to be cautious and play along carefully till you and the officer meet the seller.
If you parked your bike somewhere near a store, cafe, or building, you could ask the people working there if they have seen any activity.
Gathering witnesses can be very fruitful as people usually see these people stealing the bikes. If you have parked the bike on the racks, you can inquire about the cyclists who regularly use the spot.
Ask if they have seen any suspicious activity, if they have any news, these owners are more than happy to help you.
Do not forget to ask doorkeepers, store employees, if they recall anything.
Look for CCTV
Search the place where you have locked the bike and see if the area has CCTV.
Most of the time, you can easily find personal CCTV fixtures outside residential areas, stores, and places of heavy rush.
Approach the owner and ask them if you can have access to the footage. If you have parked where the camera can easily catch a face, it will highly increase your chance of finding the thief.
Take the footage and present it to the police. With such a big lead, they can keep checking all the CCTVs on the block to see where the thief was last seen.
Printing flyers can be old-fashioned, but you never know which method will help you get it back. Print out all the necessary details and mention your contact number at the bottom.
You can take a few hours and stick these flyers in various public places, store entrances, and inside different bodegas with the owner’s permission.
It is always a good idea to investigate your own, especially if you have an expensive bike. Do not forget to calculate the value of the stolen bike with the time you can afford to spend on the search.
If it was an old bike and you cannot miss out on your work, then carry on with your work and let the police search. You can keep the search on during the weekends.
Ways To Prevent Bike Theft
This list is primarily for people reading this as a precaution, but the list will also come in handy if you do not wish to lose your bike one more time.
Lock the intelligent way
It would be best if you locked your bike in the cleverest way possible. Many people lock the wheel with a pole and go on with their day.
Thieves are brilliant; they keep that tire attached to the bar and steal the entire bike. To avoid this, always invest in two locks and a thick chain.
Tie a wide lock on the front wheel and tie the rear tire plus frame with another lock and a thick chain.
Thieves prey on easily locked bikes to avoid suspicion; seeing such heavily locked bikes will discourage them from starting with the process of stealing.
Keep the bikes indoors
Storing bikes indoors is primarily for owners who have expensive bikes regularly parked in the same spot. Thieves are always on the round-up and always keep their eye on such costly bikes.
If your bike costs a lot more than average bikes, we highly recommend storing and parking them indoors.
This routine can be a little inconvenient, but it’s better to haul the bike to the house than to look at an empty parking spot with a broken lock.
Park it in a well-lit place
You cannot blame the thief if you have parked your bike to a rusty old drain pipe in the back or dark alley. Make sure you park at a certified bike stand that is located in a busy area.
Seeing all these people, the thief would have a hard time stealing the bike, so they would highly avoid such places.
Invest in a cycling GPS
These GPS devices can instantly notify you of the place of your bike. If you have a mountain bike or any limited edition bike, we recommend purchasing a cycling GPS.
Any bike owner who can afford a GPS should always strive to install one. You can also try a hybrid device like ILOCKIT that has a GPS along with a locking mechanism.
If you are on a budget getting such two-in-one devices can be helpful.
Keep switching the parking space
If a thief keeps an eye on a bike stand and knows your routine, it becomes easy for them to steal the bike.
Make sure you park at different times and try switching to other places to park your bike.
Does Insurance Cover Bike Theft?
Yes, many insurance companies have started to cover bike thefts as well.
If you want to be sure, you can get your bike insurance from many professional insurance agencies that only deal with bike theft and fraud.
You need to make sure that you have valid insurance that can help you with your situation.
Most insurance companies demand that you inform them within 24 hours with a brief report of how things happened along with the police report.
They also have specific clauses about the locking regulations; ensure you have their specified degree lock protection to settle your claim.
Once you inform them, make sure you send all the necessary information, invoices, receipts, lock purchase receipts, photographs, etc.
The more detailed you are, the greater chances you have to get your claim settled. If you are a renter, there are many renters insurance that will help you cover your bike.
Few special bike insurance agencies include:
We hope this article helped you move in the right direction, and if you were reading this to be safe, we request you to go through all the necessary steps to keep your new bike safe.
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic