Prepare and Prevent
Get Your Bike Back
- Act Fast and Have a Plan!
- Check Local Bikeshops
- Report it to Police
- Hit Social Media
- Use “For Sale” Boards
- Report it to Online Registry
Prepare and Prevent
How to reduce the chance of your bicycle getting stolen and increase the chances of recovery if it is.
If you can describe your bike accurately, you increase the chance of recovery many times over. Start by taking pictures of the bike—this possibly helps most of all. Record make, model, serial number, colour, gearing type, size and any special features. The more info the better. You can usually find the serial number underneath the bottom bracket (the tube that connects the pedals and cranks). There may be two numbers. Special features include racks, special gears or anything unique. Collect all this information together and keep it safe somewhere you can find it easily.
A police registration sticker may reduce the chances of your bike getting stolen but registration will definitely make it easier to reconnect you with your bike if it is. Register at the Police headquarters or pick a sticker at any local bike shop and use it to register online.
Online Bike Registries allow you to save photos and details of your bike, report it stolen, look up a bike you have seen or report sighting a potentially stolen bike. 529 Garage and Bike Index are two popular sites. Both are free and 529Garage offers the option of a sticker badge to deter would-be thieves ($13 on Amazon.ca).
Using a strong lock is THE number one thing you can do to protect your bicycle. The stronger the lock, the safer your bike. Thinner cable locks with regular padlocks are least secure and it goes upwards from there. Most lock producers have a security rating system: the higher the number, the more secure the lock. More secure locks, like U-locks and heavy chains, are less easy to use than cable locks but do a much better job at protecting your bike. Buy the best lock you can; it is the best insurance for your bicycle. If your bicycle is worth anything to you, a modern U-lock is a minimum. Find out more in this great article on bike locks. If your bicycle or rims are expensive, consider two locks (and replace quick release pins with bolts). Learn how to correctly lock your bike: GCN, Bike Radar and Two Wheel Cruise.
Most importantly: use your lock, every time you leave your bicycle. Every. Time.
Choose the places where you leave your bike locked up. Always lock to a solid object, preferably a proper bike stand. Make sure the main components of your bike are secured by the lock. Again, consider a second lock to protect wheels, &c. Choose places where there are lots of people around (and will be while your bicycle is left). This seems to be a big deterrent for casual thieves, although there are many reports of people cutting locks while the public just watched. Take any easily removed accessories or parts such as bags or even your saddle if it is quick release or expensive.
Get Your Bike Back
Things to do when the worst happens.
Get the word out, fast. Before you do, pull all recovery information together (you’ll be using it several times). You will need:
- Photos of the bike
- Information about the bike (make, model, serial number, colour, gearing type, size and any special features)
- When stolen
- Where stolen
- How to contact the owner or return the bike
- Any other helpful information
Armed with this information, get tracking.
For various reasons, many stolen bikes wind up at the places that sell or repair bikes, so check there with your information. Check out our list of local bike shops.
Contact the police even if you did not register it (registration is no longer mandatory). If you did not register it, it may slip through the cracks and get put up for auction after a while. Check the listings at Police Auctions Canada if nothing turns up in the short term
Post as much information as you can on social media (this is where those pictures really help). Post to “Stolen Bikes in Peterborough Ontario” Page on Facebook and tweet to “@stolenbikesPTBO” on Twitter. Make sure readers have a way to contact you.
If you registered your bike with an online registry, this is easy. If you have the details of your bike, you can still add it to the registry and report it stolen.
Sadly, none of the above actions will guarantee your bike will not be stolen. But some preparation and a good recovery plan will reduce the chance of theft and increase the chance of you getting your bike back if it is stolen. Most people get the idea that a lock is important, but so many forget to prepare. Take those pictures and record that information now. It is surprising the number of stolen bike posts that start with, “I don’t have any photos, but…”.