What to do if your bike is stolen

The world is filled with bike thieves that roam around and take unwarranted claim of bikes indiscriminately, whether old or new, pink, broken or in any other condition. We’re not aware of an underground bike stealing syndicate but one thing is for sure: bikes are stolen daily and end up online, in second-hand stores or in the possession of some unworthy scoundrel who took the liberty of becoming your bike’s new owner. Bike theft is so common that many cities have a regular bike-theft epidemic where skilled thieves crack locks or even steal whole bike racks.

In fact, a Montreal survey showed that half of all active cyclists who responded had their bikes stolen. Less than 40% of respondents reported the bicycle theft and of those thefts that had been reported, only 2.4% of bicycles were found.  In the UK, over 376,000 bicycles are stolen each year – that’s almost one bicycle every 90 seconds! The statistics are shocking and in many places, little is done to prevent bicycle crime.

Sadly, no bike is completely safe from the dangers of theft. However, there are some steps that you can take to try and get your bicycle back if it has been stolen. Here are tips and tricks to keep in mind for the next time you or your circle of family and friends fall victim to a ruthless, bicycle-stealing culprit.

Make sure it is stolen

Forgetting where you parked your bicycle might seem unlikely but it happens to the best of us. If you haven’t used your bike in a number of months, it may be that you stored it in a different place – think back to the last time you used your bike and where you locked it up. If that’s not the case, perhaps your bicycle has been borrowed by a friend or sibling. This is especially likely if it was in your garage or outside your house and not locked up. Once you’ve confirmed that you did indeed lock it up somewhere and it hasn’t been borrowed by someone, it’s time to take further action.

Alert the online world

Find a picture of your bicycle and type up a short description of the bike’s details. Don’t forget to mention the area where it was stolen and other details such as color or anything else that could help people identify the bicycle. Post this on every social media feed available to you and make sure to include your contact details.

Take a look at online directories such as eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist or regional Facebook marketplace pages where your bike may have been listed for sale after it was stolen. If you find your bike for sale online, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the police and provide them with all the necessary information and if possible, proof that it is indeed your bike. The police are often better equipped to deal with confrontational situations regarding stolen goods and sometimes, attempting to buy back your stolen bike may be a set-up for mugging.

Report the theft

Even if you don’t see your bicycle for sale online, report the theft to your local police and file a report. Hopefully, your bike was registered (if you haven’t registered yet, do it as soon as possible!) and the police have some information on file in the bicycle registry. If your bike wasn’t registered, it may take longer to follow up on the theft and your bike could be sold before the police get around to dealing with your case.

Listing your bike as stolen in online registries could also help recover a bicycle. A quick Google search will help you find some of the online organizations in your area that keep track of bicycles.

File an insurance claim

If you don’t have specialized bike insurance, your insurance company might be able to file a claim under your household insurance – it’s worth a try! Call up your insurance company and speak to a consultant about the possibility of filing an insurance claim for your stolen bike.

If you don’t have bicycle insurance and are lucky enough to still be in possession of your beloved bike, now might be a good time to get covered!

Head to the shops

Your bicycle may very well have ended up somewhere in the local area. Some thieves are lazy and will pawn the bike to the nearest shop or try to sell it at an informal marketplace or second-hand store. Take a quick trip to places where a second-hand bicycle might be sold and inform the shop owners of your bicycle theft situation. Every extra pair of eyes that’s helping you search for your bike can make a difference.

It’s also a good idea to inform the local bicycle repair shops of your stolen bike. Oftentimes, a stolen bike that’s not in good working condition may be sold to a repair shop for spare parts or taken in for repairs to be sold at a higher price. Informing the shops will keep them on alert for your bicycle.

Put up posters

Although it might seem like a tedious task, putting up posters will help you reach even more people. After all, not everyone is on social media. Try to add a visual so people know what your bike looks like and don’t forget to add your contact details. Stolen bike posters have proven useful in the past.

Start looking for a new bicycle

Although bike thefts are incredibly disheartening, don’t give up your bike-riding habits. Perhaps there’s a second-hand option that fits your budget, or you might be able to get a new one through an insurance claim. Invest in a good lock and think carefully about where you lock up your bike – hopefully, your next road companion won’t fall victim to the bike thieves. Here’s a list of steps you can take before your bike is stolen to make recovery much easier.