How to prevent your bike being stolen

By Becci Curtis

Roads have steadily got busier since the end of May, but the return of motorised traffic has not halted the increasing popularity of cycling. Bike shops have struggled to keep up with demand, but as the number of bikes sold (or put back into use) grows, unfortunately, so does the number of bikes being stolen. However, bike theft is not inevitable and there are some things you can do to help keep your bike secure:

1. Slow thieves down

No lock is ‘theft proof’ – a quick internet search will return many videos demonstrating how your lock could be broken into – but some locks are quicker to break into than others. A ‘gold rated’ D-lock will cost you upwards of £25, but it is an essential investment for any bike owner. Not only will a D-lock satisfy your insurance provider (if you have one) it will make your bike less convenient to steal than one secured with a cable lock that can be cut through in seconds. You might be able to buy a cable lock for less than a tenner, but if it makes your bike easier to pinch, you’d be better off saving your money.

Lock your bike through the frame (not the wheels) to something solid and anchored to the wall, or ground.

Two locks are better than one, especially two different types of lock, which would require thieves to have two different types of tools. This would put off the opportunist.

Bikes tend to be sold with ‘quick release’ skewers (the things that attach your wheels to the bike), which means they can be quickly detached from the frame (think of all those wheel-less bikes you see locked to racks around town or, worse still, frame-less wheels). Secure wheel skewers cost ~£10 and will prevent this from happening.

The way you secure your bike needs to take into account where you are leaving it, how long you are leaving it for, and its value, which is not always how much it would cost to replace, but how much not having a bike would impact your life. Avoid locking your bike in public spaces, or theft hotspots (such as the train station) for long periods, especially overnight. The Westgate Cycle Hub is open from 7am-11pm, has 24-hour CCTV, and is free to use, although you do need to register.

2. Make your bike unattractive to steal

Depressing as this may sound, you can make your bike look less valuable without making it less functional. Scruffy saddles and handlebar tape won’t make an everyday commuting bike less useful, but it will make it a less attractive option for thieves looking to sell it on.

3. Make your bike traceable

Use bikeregister.com to record your bike’s unique serial number (found at the bottom underside of your bike). This database is what the police use to recover stolen bikes, you can also use it to check whether the second-hand bike you are planning to buy has been stolen. It’s important to protect your bike, but it is just as important not to buy stolen bikes and contribute to the problem.

Featured image credit: Tejvan Pettinger CC BY 2.0.

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