Preventing bike theft - top tips

Don’t give thieves an easy ride; the following are tips to protect yourself from bike theft.

Locks and technique

Invest wisely and talk to your local bike shop about ‘Sold Secure’ standard locks. Whilst no lock is theft proof:

  • Cable locks – can be cut within a few seconds, with a discreet pair of small bolt cutters or with a little force
  • High quality D-locks – can be cut within a few minutes, but the tools required are usually less discreet and might draw public attention, especially in a busy well-lit location. An angle grinder for example.

In London (especially central or any other high risk area), use two high-quality two locks (not just a cable lock). Whatever the lock, it needs to be correctly locked to be effective. Including ensuring the bike is secured with a tight fit to a solid object (frame and wheels).

Expect to pay £40 upwards for a Sold Secure gold or diamond lock. Brands include Kryptonite, Hiplok and Abus.

As well as focusing on the frame and wheels, consider security bolts (instead of quick release, brands include Hexlox) and take with you any removable items such as pumps. Bike stripping is an ever increasing problem.

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When in public areas, choose a well-lit busy location that is covered by CCTV. Whilst thieves are rarely put off by CCTV, it’s an extra bonus for the police to have it on film if it does get pinched.

Secure the bike to a solid, immovable object (ideally a dedicated, high quality bike rack). Ensure the rack allows for correct locking technique (frame and both wheels) and does not just allow the front wheel to be locked.

If you see any cut locks on the floor, half stripped bikes, poor quality or tampered racks in the location, don’t take the risk and find somewhere else. If you ever get back to your bike and it looks like your lock has been tampered with, find somewhere else to leave your bike next time. High value bikes are often watched and targeted in advance (even sometimes listed on auction sites before stolen!), so always be one step ahead and be aware of any suspicious activity (punctured tyres or glue in the keyhole of the lock). If your bike suddenly has another bike lock that is not yours around it preventing you from leaving, get help straight away and don’t leave the bike overnight.

At home, if you live in flats, try to avoid communal night locking and leaving in hallways. Try to keep it inside and always properly locked. If you have a garage, consider a ground anchor or secure wall mount and take precautions if you use a shed that is easily visible and accessible.

Register it

  • As soon as you have purchased a brand new bike, keep the purchase receipt safe and record the frame number
    Extra tip: If the bike is second-hand, run the frame number through an online bike checker service before buying to check to see if it’s reported stolen or not.
  • Take a photo of the bike and if you upgrade any parts, again take a photo and record the details

There are a number of police approved and monitored registers, such as (regular marking events take place). If stolen, the police can easily match you as the owner if the bike is registered. Ensure the bike is clearly displaying a tamper-proof sticker provided by the register, as this can be a good deterrent. Also consider marking high value parts as well as the frame.

Being able to prove ownership is vital if a stolen bike is located by the police.

Insure it

This is an easy one to forget, but is very important if you have a high value bike. Do ensure you read the bicycle insurance policy carefully, as there will be rules about bike lock requirements (Sold Secure) and where and how you leave your bike. It’s also worth reading customer feedback before buying, as getting a bike stolen is distressing enough without having a battle with a poor quality insurer.

Commuter bike

If you are parking your bike every day at work in a high risk London location, consider having a separate cheaper bike or folding bike for your working week. And keep your pride and joy under wraps at home for your days off. Most thieves are opportunists and are not expert cyclists. They are usually only looking for a quick steal and return. Most will have a rough idea about what bike brands cost and which are the easiest to sell on (not always the highest value). It’s worth ‘decorating’ the bike, by covering brand names with stickers to avoid those prying eyes and try to make sure your bike is locked better than nearby bikes.