Hints & Tips

Beginners: Six ways to stop your bicycle being stolen

There’s been a spike in bike thefts recently, with this in mind PCSO Steve Baldwin visited Adele Mitchell’s local cycling club to discuss how we can prevent our bikes from joining the statistics.

Steve’s advice was too good not to share, so here’s a summary of what he had to say.

It seems bike theft crime generally falls into one of two camps: there’s the opportunistic thief who spies an unlocked bike left outside a shop and makes off with it, and there’s the ‘professional’ thief who will seek out and identify upmarket bikes and steal them to order.

The latter group of thieves are the ones who are more likely to break into your shed or garage or, if the bike is left in the same place everyday, use cutting equipment to remove it. The stolen bikes may then be broken up and sold as parts or quickly moved away from the area or even overseas to be sold there.

The best defence is to register your bike’s details with a recognised site (more on this later), make it very difficult to steal (‘professional’ thieves will move on if they think they might get caught), and also report any activity that you think might be suspicious.

Can you believe that in the UK, a bicycle is stolen almost every minute and what’s worse is less than 5% of those are returned to their owners. With around 20,000 bikes reported stolen in London annually, if you don’t want to be one of these numbers, heed Steve’s advice.

Here’s what to do:

You’ll find your serial number on the underside of your bottom bracket

1. Register your bike with Bike Register or Immobolise

The police use both sites to try and match stolen items with their rightful owners and the sites also enable you to check a second hand bike isn’t listed as stolen on their databases. Include photos and your bike’s serial number: you’ll find it on a sticker underneath the bottom bracket.

2. Use high quality bike locks

Preferably with a gold Sold Secure rating (read more on this here) and consider investing in a tracker device. Your local bike shop can advice on good buys: come home with the best you can afford. It’s also worth marking detachable parts with indelible pen or a UV pen, or find out if your local police force is offering free security marking.

3. If your bike is kept in a shed or garage then lock it to something very heavy and immoveable

Close and lock the door and don’t leave it open for long periods to help prevent your bike being noticed and stolen to order. Better still, keep your bike in the house.

Need we say anything?
Copyright Chris Dustin

4. Always secure your bike if you leave it

Even if you’ll only be gone for a few moments. Use secure cycling parking if you can and avoid parking it in isolated or dimly lit areas. Lock it to an immovable object such as a bike rack or street furniture. Make sure you lock both wheels to the frame (this will require two locks!) and remove quick release items such as the seat, lights etc.

5. If you’re commuting try not to leave your bike in the same place everyday

Nor park it with other commuters’ bikes – especially if your bike will stand out as being valuable. This will help prevent it being noticed and stolen to order.

6. If you’re a Strava user then use the settings to create a privacy perimeter

Create the privacy perimeter around your home and work place so that it wont show up on your ride maps (or start and finish your ride well away from home!), and don’t mention your bike model in your profile.

7. Share this information other cyclists…

…and if you see anything suspicious either report it Crimestoppers (which is anonymous) visit Crimestoppers website or call the police on 101.

We also like this guide to how not to lock your bike, simple and straight forward!

Some rather sobering statistics:

The following stats are from an LV home insurance press release/July 2012:

  1. Cyclists own a bike for less than two years on average before it gets stolen
  2. One in five (19%) bike thefts occur within six months of the bike being purchased
  3. More than five million cyclists1 have fallen victim to bike theft at some point
  4. A third of bike theft victims (30%) don’t bother to report the crime to the police

Do you live in one of the high risk areas? Get ahead of the thieves, reduce the risk factors and prevent your beloved bicycle from being stolen.

Bike theft victims by region: Region % that have had a bike stolen

  1. London 28%
  2. East Midlands 24%
  3. Northern Ireland 24%
  4. Yorkshire and Humberside 23%
  5. North West 23%
  6. North East 23%
  7. South West 22%
  8. UK average 21%
  9. South East 18%
  10. East Anglia 17%
  11. West Midlands 16%
  12. Wales 13%

What advice do you have for keeping your bike secure? Share with us below to keep our steeds safe!


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.