Knowing how to prevent bike theft has never been more critical. In the UK and Wales, over 300,000 cycles are stolen every year. Whatever our level of cycling experience, we are all at risk. With modern road bikes costing many thousands of pounds, criminals have started targeting cyclists.
Recently, one of the team at Cyclxr experienced how determined thieves can be. Despite having his Cinelli and Enigma cycles locked up in a seemingly secure place, cycle thieves walked off with two road bikes worth over £7k. So what went wrong and how can you learn from our staff members mistakes!
How to prevent bike theft – Making it harder for the opportunist
Many bike thefts are down to a moment of stupidity. We dash into a shop and leave the bike unlocked or run inside the house because we have forgotten our pump. Leaving your bike unlocked and unattended is a disaster waiting to happen. Always lock your bicycle, and make sure your lock is gold standard approved. Cheap locks can be picked or cut in seconds.
Having made sure your bike lock is of a suitable standard, make sure you lock it to something equally secure. For example, a lampost, metal railings or a fixed point in a brick wall will be far more effective than a flimsy wooden fence. Also, make sure you wrap cable type locks around your bike frame a few times to reduce the amount of slack. Keeping your lock wound tight will prevent a would-be thief from being able to get bolt croppers around the loose cable.
Even D type locks can be cropped if they are not heavy-duty. Always lock around the bottom bracket of the bike when using a d-lock. (That is the bit the pedals are attached too-Ed) Locking through wheels or the crossbar leaves too much air around the lock. Instead, try to fill the centre of the D with the bike and whatever you are securing it to. Make it hard to crop, and a thief will move on to an easier target.
How to prevent bike theft – Location
If you must lock your bike outside for any length of time, make sure you lock it in a well-lit area if you can. Also, look for CCTV cameras or even smart doorbells. With many households using camera devices to protect their properties, it is not too difficult to lock your bike under the watchful eye of a camera.
Even having your bike stored off the street is not enough. Our unfortunate staff member had both his bikes stored in an alarmed vehicle behind blacked-out windows. Having watched the bikes being loaded into the van, thieves simply used a screwdriver to force the lock open. Had the bikes been locked together or fixed to the truck, the thieves would not have gotten away with the bikes. Consider locking your bikes to a security anchor inside your garage/workshop/shed or vehicle.
Is bike insurance necessary?
Finally, don’t assume your vehicle insurance will cover your bikes. With £3000 of cover per individual item, our guy thought his bikes would be covered. The small print on his vehicle policy excluded bikes. He wasn’t even insured for cycle loss. Taking out dedicated cycle insurance makes sense if you own expensive bikes. Don’t rely on household or vehicle insurance.
With Strava becoming an ever more popular platform for serious cyclists, some determined thieves have even started using ride data to pinpoint bike storage locations. So if you use Strava, always start and finish your ride tracking a good few miles from home.
Is bike theft impossible to prevent?
The truth is, if someone wants your bike, they can steal it. With van loads of stolen bikes being exported to Europe weekly, bike theft is big business. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do to prevent a bike from being stolen. However, there is a lot more you can do to track your bike.
Here is our top list of things you need to do TODAY to aid the recovery or replacement of a stolen bike. Of course, this list assumes you have already bought good quality locks and are using them!
- Insure your bikes with a dedicated cycle theft policy – Compare Bicycle Insurance
- Write down your frame numbers for the police to easily identify your bikes
- Register your bikes with the national database or Police bike register.
- Keep original bills of purchase for bikes and all significant accessories.
- Consider using a hidden tracker device.
- Have your frame marked with a suitable etching service. Bike security marking works.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, ensuring these simple tasks are completed will make the whole process of identifying and recovering your bike that bit easier. Losing your prized road bike is hard enough, but not having suitable insurance or the necessary data to aid recovery makes a bad situation worse.
So run through our article and tick off the essential points. Then, maybe you can save yourself the heartache of losing your road bike.
Enjoy the ride!