Tips for protecting your bike
Whether you ride your bike to work every day or just hit your local trails on weekends, keep these tips in mind to make sure your bike is always right where you left it:
- Double up your security by using two high-quality locks. U-locks tend to be more durable than thin cable locks, which can be cut through more easily. But because of their shape, U-locks limit the amount of bike you can secure at one time, so consider pairing yours with a sturdy steel chain. Smaller U-Locks are harder to break.
- Use your locks to keep your wheels from being stolen, too. If you choose to double your security by using both a U-lock and a steel chain, first thread the U-lock through the bike frame, the bike rack or other secure structure, and one wheel. Then, loop the cable lock through both the front and back wheel, as well as through the U-lock.
- Swap quick-release seat and wheel skewers for ones that require keys. Seats and wheels on most new bikes come with ‘quick-release’ mechanisms, which make it easy to take them off if you need to load your bike into a car — but they also make your seat and wheels easier to steal. If you don’t need to frequently remove your wheels and seat, consider switching the quick-release skewers for ones that require keys.
- Make your bike unique. Bikes with personalized elements are easier to identify after they’ve been stolen, so they’re harder for thieves to sell — making them less likely to be stolen than more generic styles. Consider giving your bike a one-of-a-kind paint job or adding distinctive decals. This can be a fun DIY project that also helps deter thieves.
- Try out a smart lock. Controlled by your smartphone, a smart lock can alert you when your bike is in motion, and even allow you to track the bike’s location. There are also locks that sound loud alarms or emit smelly gases when tampered with to stop thieves in their tracks. Consider trying out one of these high-tech devices for added security.
- Always bring your bike inside at night. Most bike thieves prefer to operate when the sun goes down and no one is around to watch. Whenever possible, bring your bike indoors at night — and if you can’t bring it indoors, lock it up in a well-lit area.
- If you return to your bike to find that one of its tires has been punctured, don’t leave it unattended. Unlock your bike and take it with you, because chances are, a thief has popped your tire on purpose and plans to come back and cut your locks later.
- Take note of your bike’s serial number. It’s not always possible to prevent bike theft, but in the event that your bike is stolen, you can help the authorities track it down. If you know your bike’s serial number, the authorities can call local pawn shops and other second-hand stores to find out if anyone has sold them a bike with that serial number. That way, if the thief sold your bike, the police may be able to recover it. In some cities, you may even be able to register your serial number with the local police when you buy your bike, so they have it on file and can contact you if they find a bike registered under your name.
- Register your bike using the free 529 Garage registry at project529.com/garage. It alerts others that your bike is stolen and helps police recover and return it to you.
- If your bike is stolen, report it to your local police as soon as possible. This is your best chance for safe return.
- Social networks have been proven to increase the chance of recovery — post a photo and details of your bike theft experience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Watch online marketplaces, and report or flag suspicious listings. Police do not recommend residents confront bike thieves on their own.