Protecting Yourself Against Bicycle Theft
Regardless if bicycles are parked in city urban dwellings or stationed in the suburbs, opportunistic thieves see your bike as a way to make fast, easy money. To make matters worse, bicycles are also generally one of the only modes of transportation that people don’t register or insure.
While there’s no such thing as an unbreakable lock, the good news is that there are a variety of new ways to protect yourself against bicycle theft — or at least significantly reducing the likelihood.
Look for a good quality lock.
The highest percentage of bikes stolen are usually those with low-cost chains or cable-type locks. The best performing locks on the market are often made from double-or triple-headed, hardened steel.
U-locks (also known as D-locks) take the shape of the letters as indicated; and are one of the safest, most secure options. Try locking both wheels to an immovable object and doubling up on different locks that can’t be easily cut or broken. Thieves want to move as fast as possible when committing a crime, so the burden of removing two different locks adds to your security efforts.
As a general rule of thumb, experts say you should spend 10% of the bike’s overall value in a security option.
Tech is getting smarter.
Smart bike security is becoming more and more integrated into cycling products. Today, we’re seeing new products enter the market with keyless Bluetooth locking mechanisms, distress alarms, motion detectors and GPS tracking in the event that your bike does get stolen.
With any new technology, it’s worth doing your research and reading customer reviews. Finding the best product on the market can take some time, and while smart technology might require a slightly higher investment, it’s worthwhile in exchange for the added security.
Keep your wits about you.
While making sure you’re using reliable safety constraints to keep your bike safe, it’s also important to have a general idea of street smarts. More often than not, bikes are stolen out of garages or laneways that have poor lighting and low foot-traffic.
Even if your bike is kept at home, in a shed, an underground garage or a communal lock-up — it’s still important to invest in a sturdy anchor lock to ensure your bike remains where you left it. Lock your bike in well-lit, highly public areas. Thieves will be a lot less likely to steal your property if it’s in a high-traffic area with lots of suspicious eyes on them.
Ultimately, the best place to keep your bike is inside of your home. Unless your condo unit is high enough off the ground, balconies can still pose an easy target to determined thieves too.
When in doubt, insure it.
While it’s important to take as many precautions as possible, your bicycle is a desirable commodity to thieves. This is when insuring your bike can make theft recovery a lot less of a headache for you. You might think that your bicycle will already be covered under your home or tenant insurance policy — but that’s not always the case. Additionally, many insurance companies place a limit on the coverage they provide for specific items, such as bicycles. This might mean that the home insurance coverage you’ve selected doesn’t cover the full cost for an expensive bike.
Prepare for theft in advance
While locking up your property and being strategic with where you store it can help, it’s important to consider secondary options as well. Taking preventative measures and preparing in advance is key to recovering your bike quickly.
Having good quality photos of your bike, including the serial number (often found stamped on the bottom bracket section of your frame underneath) or even the receipt of purchase — can make recovering from theft easier.
Furthermore, preparing for the worst is a strategic and smart contingency plan. Insuring your bike will go a long way when alleviating some of the emotional and financial stress that having your bike stolen can cause.
Remember: bike theft is notoriously one of the most underreported crimes. While you might think that filing a police report is a waste of time, doing so can increase the chance of your bike being returned if discovered. The second step after having your bike stolen is to contact your insurance broker to start a claim.