A bike is stolen every minute in the UK.
It’s a shocking statistic and the chances are if you own a bike you’ve been a victim of theft.
The good news is there are a number of things you can do to deter thieves…
The key thing is to make their job more difficult. Thieves are opportunist and look for easy, quick jobs. Every barrier you put in their way will make them less likely to target your bike.
1. Don’t use cheap locks, it’s a false economy
You might save a few quid buying a £10 lock… but you’ll have to fork out a lot more if it’s stolen. Thieves can spot a cheap, poor quality lock a mile off.
Make sure your lock has a gold Sold Secure rating. They’re owned by the Master Locksmiths Association who put them through rigorous testing. You can see which products they approve here: Sold Secure
2. Lock both the wheels and the frame
Ever seen a random wheel locked to a railing? This happens when a thief pops the wheel off the bike (bypassing the lock) and walks off with the more valuable frame. Locking a wheel isn’t enough, you also need to lock the frame to something.
3. Always try to park your bike near people
Thieves aren’t usually deterred by CCTV (a lot of them wear hoods or caps to disguise their faces). However they’re not so keen on stealing near big groups of people…
Avoid the side streets and try locking it up in a public place where there’s plenty of footfall.
4. Avoid leaving it in the same area
If a thief sees that a bike’s parked in the same spot each day between certain hours they take note. Don’t advertise when the best time to steal it is, try to park it in different places each time.
5. Leave your bike indoors where possible
If your bike’s worth a few hundred pounds park it inside where possible.
Remember to treat it like a high value item. If you left an iPad outside chained to a lamp post you’d (sadly) expect opportunist thieves to try stealing it. A high end bike is worth the same amount of money, sometimes more, and has a built in escape mechanism!
6. If your bike’s got a puncture, take it home immediately
If a thief spots a bike he/she wants, but doesn’t have the tools or the time to steal it then and there, they’ll often puncture the tyre. This is a trick to delay the owner from cycling off with it (while they can gather the tools to steal it).
7. If your lock has been tampered with contact the police (on 101)
Another trick some bike thieves will use is to fill the lock with glue. Again this buys them time to get the tools they need to come back later and steal it.
To decrease the likelihood of this happening, lock your D-bar downwards (this will cause the glue to run). If you suspect your lock has been tampered with and you can’t remove it, contact the police on the non-emergency number: 101.
8. Make your bike too ugly too steal
If you’re more concerned with performance than looks, you could give your bike an ‘ugly’ makeover. Put gaffer tape over the logos, pen over the tyre markings and spray the body so that it looks scuffed and drab.
9. Register your bike with Bike Register or Immobilise
The police endorse a scheme called Bike Register and Immobilise. Log the security tag number, take a photo of your bike and write a description. That way if/when it’s recovered (and this is happening more and more often) the police can quickly confirm that it belongs to you.
10. Add a security mark to your bike to deter thieves
The tamper proof identity sticker you get with Bike Register or Immobilise not only helps the police re-unite stolen bikes with their owners, it can also act as a deterrent for thieves. Look on your local police website – they often hold events where you can get yours marked, or you can do it yourself.
11. Add a generic GPS tracking device to your bike
GPS tracking devices are getting smaller and cheaper and you can now get tiny geo-fence trackers. These alert you, on your phone, if your valuable has been moved from a certain location. You can see an article on these here: How to find any lost item using your smartphone. Not sure how to attach it to your bike? You could try using Sugru – see my article on that here.
12. Use a GPS tracking bike lock to secure your bike
This is super smart tech, but it’s in its infancy and many of these devices haven’t launched yet. However it’s coming very soon. Currently 3 companies offer it.
Skylock (currently available for pre-order)
Lock8 (in development)
Bitlock (in development)
Devices such as these (and perhaps even smaller ones inbuilt into bikes themselves) have the potential to change the face of bike theft.
Right, that’s it! I hope you found this article useful.
If you enjoyed reading this or if you’d like to share any tips and tricks please leave a comment below.