Having a bike stolen is infuriating but you can’t keep an eye on it at every moment, so what can you do to thwart bike thieves? Here is our essential advice on protecting your bike, locking it up and keeping it safe.
More people getting into cycling plus a national shortage of new bikes have led to an increased demand for second-hand bikes. Unfortunately, this thriving second-hand market has meant an increase in bike thefts. Follow these tips to make sure yours doesn’t get into the wrong hands…
LOCK UP YOUR BIKE SOMEWHERE VISIBLE
When choosing somewhere to lock up your bike take a good look around first – if there are other bikes parked up with parts missing or even a solitary back-wheel it’s best to move on and find somewhere safer. Look for CCTV or street lighting that will act as a deterrent. Somewhere with a heavy footfall, with lots of people passing-by can also help, as it will make it harder for a thief to work without being spotted. Be particularly careful around places like cafes where there are lots of other cyclists and bikes – canny bike thieves will turn up in cycling clothing to steal a bike unspotted.
KEEP YOUR BIKE SAFE FROM PRYING EYES
When you lock up your bike at home make sure there is no way a thief can see into your garage or shed to check out its contents. Likewise, don’t clean your bike or do any maintenance on it in full view of passers-by who might take an interest or pass on information to a thief, even accidentally.
Sadly, stealing bikes has become such an industry that thieves will follow cyclists on Strava to find out where bikes are kept. There have been stories of bikes ‘stolen to order’, with thieves looking for specific brands through a cyclist’s social media. If you put up photos of you and your bike on any social media, but especially tracking apps such as Strava or Garmin, be careful of sharing locations and ensure you keep your privacy settings high.
USE DIFFERENT LOCATIONS TO LOCK UP YOUR BIKE
If you commute the same journey regularly, try to vary where your bike is locked. Bike thieves will patrol areas and will spot where desirable bikes are frequently stored. Putting it in the same place each day will give them time to work out how to break your lock and even find a waiting buyer.
LOCK THROUGH THE FRAME
How you lock up your bike plays a big part in making it as difficult as possible for a thief to take it. The most important thing is to put a lock through the main triangle of your frame, not just through a wheel. Try to position the lock so it is difficult to access and limit the amount of working space around it. If you have a long-cable lock, wind it round your bike to make it harder to use bolt croppers. Use additional locks for wheels and take-off anything valuable that could be easily removed.
It’s common sense, but always lock your bike onto something strong and immoveable so the bike cannot be lifted over it. We once saw a bike stolen from a metal fence – the thieves used the bolt-cropper on the fence instead of the bike lock, leaving a hole in the fence and carrying away the bike with the fencing still attached!
USE A SOLD SECURE BIKE LOCK
Sold Secure are considered the industry standard for lock and security system testing. It is a condition of many bike insurance policies that you use a Sold Secure rated lock. Formed by Northumbria and Essex Police, and now owned by the Master Locksmith Association, they know what makes a really good lock. They come in four different grades, depending on the value of your bike, and are well worth the investment.
GET BIKE INSURANCE
This feels a bit defeatist but bike thieves are very determined. If you live in a high-risk area, or frequently lock up your bike outside your home, it is well worth getting bike insurance. It’s not just the financial loss of your bike but the frustration of missing rides or losing your transport. An insurance company will help you get back on the road faster.