Despite our best efforts, there are still scum who walk this earth who deem it necessary to nick other people's property. If it's happened to you, you know what it feels like - the panic of trying to remember whether this is, in fact, where you left your bike. Whether it was your commuter, a brand new race bike, or a beat-up mountain bike, here are some things you can do to protect your bike or get your bike back if it gets stolen.
Protecting Your Bike and Precautions
It's a piece of property like anything else, so why skip jotting down the serial number? We could also suggest taking pictures, but seeing as everyone's new ride is generally straight to Instagram these days, maybe that's a moot point? But, make sure you do take all the pictures you can, not forgetting to do so again when you upgrade bits (because, you will).
Some bike shops and manufacturers also have a registration system, mainly for warranty purposes, but very handy for proof of ownership.
Should you insure your bicycle? The answer is often yes and grows emphatically more so as the value of your bike goes up. Just like picking up a new car, sort your bike's insurance coverage before rolling it out past the guard of honor at the bike shop. Look into bike insurance specialists and your home/apartment/contents insurer for the best deal for your circumstances.
A next level, 21st century technology solution is to install a tracker. Tracking services such as rejjee.com, and implanted devices like sherlock.bike or immobitag, use GPS or RFID technologies to give you peace of mind and a nice sticker to warn away the thieving low-lifes of the stupidity they are contemplating.
Locks? Goes without saying, but the one you use has to be good quality and you may need more than one to lock the frame and the wheels. Luckily, there's now a rating system for bike locks, which of course correlates to the $$$ spent, but hey, it's your pride and joy, why skimp now? Sadly, a well-equipped bike thief with opportunity and time will always break through even the best of locks, so don't skip the prior steps.
What to do if your bike gets stolen
Bikes disappear from wherever they may be: from your garage/lock up, from the car, on the street, maybe sometimes even on the trail. Speed of response to your missing bike is critical.
A social media cry looking for an angry mob is an immediate desire. Be detailed in your message: tell where, when, share pictures of the bike, and give a description of the culprit if you caught a glimpse.
Getting onto the police is also a priority and you'll need to give the same kind of information. As much as we sentimentally agree it's a '911 emergency' that justifies mobilizing the national guard, the cops won't share that feeling, so be nice and use the general number - you'll still get through fast, but will need to also be patient as they take your report.
If you're at an organized event, check with the promoter, security, or lost and found. It's a slim chance, but maybe someone accidentally got your bike thinking it was theirs or a friend's. The event can help spread the message to get security, staff, and other participants to help look for your bike.
If you are insured, don't hold out your luck and delay in starting the claims process. With your police incident registration / report number in hand, get onto your insurer to open a claim. We know nothing can ever replace the sweet ride you #fullykustombuilt, but it's important to think ahead and move quickly to get back on a bike.
Something to be aware of is not everyone knows what a "carbon Ultralight with Lightweights and German finishing kit rolling on Campag" is. So, be prepared to translate your ride into a bicycle that can be understood.
What to do if your bike is still missing
The urge to stake out is strong, we get it. Follow up leads, wear a beaten up suit/hat, smoke a stubby cigar... these things along with the occasional forlorn howl at the moon can help overcome the grief. There are still things you can do to up your chances of riding your precious bicycle again.
Report the theft to your local shop and manufacturer. Some have programs to help.
Keep up your online and social media push. Enlist the eyes and ears of your social media friends and cycling network to keep watch, both in the real world and virtual. Post to your own profile and social media groups (check group policies first - some may consider it spam). Post to cycling forums (like forum.bikeroar.com), stolen listings, Craigslist, Gumtree, and the like to further crowdsource finding it.
Watch listings on online auction websites (e.g. eBay) and classified sales sites (e.g. Craigslist, Gumtree) for bikes that match yours. Better yet, set up automatic alerts for when matching listings go up so you can check them to see if it's your bike. If your bicycle turns up for sale, you'll be tempted to assume the seller is also the thief, but that may not be the case. You may also be tempted to contact the "seller" and get the bike back yourself, and we have heard of several happy-ending cases where victims have done it, but the safe approach (both personal safety and legal safety) is to enlist the help of your local police.
It may be worth informing local pawn shops and staying in touch.
And of course, if it's looking unlikely and the insurance cheque is on its way, it could be time to face a new reality of #NEWBIKETIME! Get surfing to get pedalling.