What to do if your bike has been stolen - 5 steps

1. Report the theft to the police

As a matter of urgency, report the bike as stolen to the police.

What to provide

Whilst it’s possible to report your stolen bike by phone and in some cases online, it can be more beneficial to go into your local police station.

Provide as much detail as possible, the more the better, including:

Whilst you may think the odds are against you, the police actually recover a lot of bikes. But one thing they find incredibly hard is tracking down the bike owner. This is because the owner has either not reported it or provided enough information (this also links into the point below regarding ‘bike registration companies’). As an important bonus, by reporting a crime you are ensuring that national and local crime statistics are accurate; this ultimately ensures the true picture is seen and can have the correct allocation of resource.

Take a note of your crime reference number and keep the case updated with any new details. If you have cycle insurance, you will need this reference. Some lock companies, such as Kryptonite, may offer a theft protection policy and they will also require the crime reference number.

Help the police

  • CCTV

If CCTV was at the location, try to gain it (approach the nearby shop or facility security for the footage).

  • GPS

If you were lucky enough to have a GPS tracker hidden on your bike, keep an eye on the data and provide this information to the police.

  • Witnesses

Is there a shop overlooking the bike rack?

Are there fellow cyclists who park their bikes at the same rack every day that might have seen something?

Does your residential development have a maintenance team who may have seen something? While you are there, do warn others to be extra vigilant as it is common for thieves to target the same area.

  • Flyers

Even though this is slightly old fashioned, if stolen from a public place or a residential development, do put flyers up with the bike details and theft details, in the hope that someone witnessed the crime. Also approach cycle clubs and bike shops.

  • Community

See the point below to ensure you get fellow cyclists involved in helping you.

If your bike is spotted by yourself or a member of the public, do not meet the seller directly, always contact the police on 101.

If it was spotted online and you or someone else has sourced the seller’s address, phone number or a meeting date/time (public meeting place) hand this over to the police. Also any online bike advert screenshots or hard copies. Do convince the police that the bike is unquestionably yours.

Extra tip: If you are on Twitter, @MetCC and @MetCycleCops are responsive London police accounts.

2. Insurance

If you have insurance, you should take action as soon as possible and prepare yourself for the claim. Here’s some advice from Izzy at Bikmo cycle insurance on what to consider:

“If you have cycle specific insurance, it’s best to speak to them directly and give a short account of what happened, this should be done within 24 hours of the theft. The insurers will ask you to submit the claim either online, or over the phone, and may provide a list of information that they require, such as the crime reference number.

“Most insurance companies have locking requirements within their policy wording that you must adhere to. Therefore, you will need to provide as much detail as possible as to the location of the theft, the make / model of the lock that was used, what it was locked to and how it was locked.

“Not only will the insurers need evidence of the lock, they will also need proof of ownership of the bike and any accessories that were stolen. The majority of insurers will ask for this in the form of receipts, or in some cases, such as with Bikmo Cycle Insurance, photographic evidence is accepted.

“The more detailed information that you can provide up front should ensure that the claim is handled as quickly as possible by your insurer. We at Bikmo turn around claims in 3 working days on average, however more involved claims that involve witness statements or CCTV reviews might take longer.”

3. Bike registration companies

If you are a member of a bike registration company, such as Immobilise, Veloeye or BikeRegister, notify them. BikeRegister for example have a ‘bike checker’ service, it will warn potential buyers if they put your frame number in. Police forces also have access to the data, which will greatly help if they recover your bike. They can quickly match you as the owner.

4. Notify the cycling community

Be proactive, get online quickly and post your bike details out to the cycling community and gain help from others.

If stolen in London, tweet the details to the @StolenRide community. Do not underestimate the power of having thousands of fellow cyclists watching out for you. They will search on the streets and online for you. It works and bikes have been spotted and recovered as far away as Spain and Moldova.

5. Search & monitor


Actively monitor online auctions, second-hand goods websites and social media listings. For example, local buy and sell Facebook groups and ‘boot sale’ style apps. Sites such as BikeShd pull in all the new bicycle listings from Gumtree and Ebay in London. Also, ‘Google’ your bike details as bike adverts might not always appear on the large sites. Set up ‘Google Alerts’, so you can monitor the web and have alerts automatically emailed to you.

On the ground

Visit local car boots and markets, some have a reputation for stolen bikes. For example, in London, Brick Lane Market has long been a hub. If you spot your bike, do not actively approach the seller, instead involve the police.

Never give up. We all have a unique attachment to our bikes, which goes far beyond the monetary value. Whilst having insurance can be comforting, if you have it, there is nothing like getting your pride and joy back. Keep the faith and never let it put you off cycling.

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