A bike theft occurs every 71 seconds in the UK – and of those bikes stolen, less than 5% are successfully returned to their owners. So how do you stop your cycle getting pinched in the first place?
We’ve put together 5 essential steps that will help protect your bike and prevent it becoming another crime statistic.
1. Invest in TWO decent locks
Getting a good bike lock is basic common sense, but you should really look to buy two if you can. Cycling security experts advise spending at least 10% of the value of your bike on locks – more if you can afford it.
‘D-locks’ (also sometimes called U-locks) are regarded as the best locks to protect your bike. Cable locks (even expensive big brand ones) are relatively easy to cut through for a thief armed with a pair of bolt cutters.
However, buying two different types of locks can be a good idea (for example a U-lock and a cable lock). This is because they require different types of tools to break – and many thieves won’t be carrying both (or will go for a bike that is quicker to break).
Kryptonite will refund the cost of your bike (up to £800) if you register your lock and your bike with them on their website and your bike is stolen – though check the terms of this carefully, as you have to pay a small fee each year to register for the scheme and meet several conditions. Find more information about the scheme here.
2. Lock the wheel AND the frame
It’s definitely worth locking both the wheels and the frame to a solid, immovable object – don’t just lock one.
You can lock the front wheel and the frame with one lock, and the back wheel and frame with another.
3. Be careful what you lock your bike to
Is the object you’re locking your bike against really immovable? Many people make the mistake of locking their bikes against things like drainpipes (which are often easily wrenched off their walls) or road signs (thieves can slide the bikes up and over even tall signs).
Also, try and leave as small a space as possible in the ‘U’ portion of a ‘U lock’ so thieves can’t force their tools inside the lock and break it open. (Create a tight fit with the lock around the wheels and the frame to make it as difficult as possible).
Similarly, make sure your bike lock isn’t in contact with the ground, as this makes it easier for thieves to break them off using a hammer or chisel.
If you’re leaving your bike for a reasonable period of time, it can be worth removing the saddle, as this will a) stop your saddle getting pinched, b) make it harder for thieves to ride your bike away, and c) ensure your bike will be more hassle to sell off quickly, making it less attractive to criminals.
4. How to choose a safe spot for your bike
Obviously, storing your bike indoors is the safest option – but this isn’t possible for most people.
Don’t be fooled into thinking your bike will be safe in your garden shed – thieves tend to target sheds as they know people often leave expensive bikes and tools in them. Lock your bike to an immovable object inside the shed if you can – and get a lock for the shed door, too.
If you’re locking your bike up on the street, lock it in a well-lit place (in sight of CCTV if possible). It’s best to lock your bike up amongst lots of other bikes. If you’ve followed the advice above (locking the wheels AND the frame with two locks etc.) your bike is far less likely to be stolen – simply because there will be bikes near yours that are far easier for the thieves to steal!
Don’t leave your bike outside places where people tend to be gone a long time (offices, cinemas, train stations and the like). It’s best to lock your bike up outside of busy places where people only tend to be gone a few minutes (such as shops and cafes).
It’s also best not to park your bike in the same place every day.
5. Have your bike registered and tagged
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Every bike has a frame number (normally found on the underside of the bike frame). You can register this number on free property databases such as Bike Register and Immobilise.com, which are used by the police to check if property and bikes are stolen or not.
These registration services also offer radio tagging services for around £15-£20. This is where a radio frequency tag is hidden in your frame, which can then be picked up by police radio frequency scanners. You also get some stickers which you can put on the frame notifying would-be thieves that your bike is registered and tagged, which can act as an effective deterrent.
Should I get my bike insured?
Unfortunately there’s no way to stop a bike being stolen if a thief’s determined enough and has the right tools. (Though if you follow the steps above, you are far less likely to have your bike pinched).
But given that bike theft is so common, if you have a half-decent bike it makes sense to have some insurance in place.
Your home insurance policy may cover bike theft – however some policies won’t cover expensive models. Also, they might not cover the original cost of your bike, but only its value at the time it was stolen. Check your policy for details.
Also, bear in mind that if you claim for bike theft, it may affect the cost of your insurance premiums – so it may make sense to buy separate bike insurance.