Cycle Security | Keeping Your Bike Safe
According to figures made available by Police Scotland, more than 4,500 bicycles thefts were reported to them in 2019. The Grampian region accounted for around 325 of these. Trying to see the positive in these numbers, we can see that the number of reported bike thefts in north east Scotland is falling compared to recent years. Admittedly that is not much consolation if you had your bike stolen during 2019.
With even the cheapest second hand bikes costing anything from £100 upwards then it is not surprising some see cycle theft as easy pickings. And, it is inevitable that you will have to leave your bike unattended for considerable periods of time whether that be overnight at home, when at work, or visiting the shops. Therefore it is worthwhile taking a few precautions to prevent you adding to Police Scotland's statistics.
This page provides a few tips on securing your bike at home, work, and when out and about. It also tells you what to do if the worst happens and your bike is stolen.
Do Your Home Work
Before you do anything, take a few photos of your bike and make a note of the frame number, colour, size, make, model, special components, etc. This information may help you get your bike back if the worst happens and your bike is stolen.
You may also want to register your bike with the free, police approved bicycle marking & registration scheme Bike Register, and on Immobolise, a free national property register used by UK Police forces to trace owners of lost and stolen property.
Make sure your privacy settings on any bike apps you have are up to date, and in particualr that you have set Strava Privacy Zones for your home, and work place.
Buy a Good Lock
Bike thieves need to operate quickly to reduce the chance of being caught, so a decent bike lock is a must. It will make a thief’s job more difficult, so they will be less likely to take the time to break your lock. See our page on Choosing a bike lock for some tips on what to look for when buying a bike lock.
And once you have a good lock, use it everytime you park your bike - not just when you are out and about, but also at home. More than half of all bikes stolen are taken from the owner's home. Stolen from sheds, garages, and stairwells, so do take as much care in locking your bike at home as you would if parking in the local town centre.
How to Lock Your Bike
Lock the frame of your bike to a bike rack or other immoveable object like iron railings, or if in a shed or garage a workbench or ground anchor. If possible, lock both wheels to either the bike frame or the immovable object. Definately don't just lock the wheel to the stand, or you may come back to find your bike gone, but your wheel still there!
A few other do's and don'ts are
- Don't leave the lock touching the ground, otherwise it is easy for a thief to sledgehammer it off.
- If you are using a D-Lock, try to fill the D with as much bike and street furniture as will fit. This makes it more difficult for a thief to use a bottle jack, or other tools to break the lock.
- Take parts that are easy to remove like pumps, lights, bike computer etc with you. Consider fitting security bolts (instead of quick release) for your seat post and on your wheels.
- 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.
Where to Lock Your Bike
When out and about, park your bike in a well-lit area, where it can be easily seen by passers-by. Don’t park in the same place every day. If bike thieves are stealing to order, you are more likely to be targeted if the thieves know where your bike will be.
At home, take the same care to lock your bike as you would on the street.
If you live in a flat, try to avoid communal lockers and leaving it in entrance hallways. Try to keep it inside your flat and always properly locked.
If you use a garage then consider fitting a ground anchor or secure wall mount to lock your bike to. These are avaialble from Amazon, or perhaps even from your local bike shop, or some of the larger DIY outlets.
If you use a shed then use a curtain or blind on the window so opportunist thieves cant see your bike. Ensure you have a robust lock on the shed, and anti-theft screws on the hinges. Consider an alarm so that if the door is opened or there is movement inside the shed then the alarm will be activated. If you can not use a ground anchor, then use a "shed shackle" that fits to the inside of the shed wall and creates a locking point.
What To Do If Your Bike Is Stolen
Many stolen bikes are recovered and returned to their rightful owners, so if your bike is stolen you should definitely report it to the police. If your bike is insured then this will be a policy requirement. If the theft is in progress then Dial 999. Otherwise Dial 101, or report it in person at the police station local to where your bike was taken. The police will want information from you, so the more you can provide the better - that is why we suggested taking note of frame number etc earlier.
Ask for your CAD (Computer Aided Despatch) or CRIS (Crime Reference Information System) number. This will help you trace the progress of your case and may be needed for your insurance claim.
Harness the power of social media by sharing the fact your bike has been stolen on Facebook and Twitter. And if you have registered your bike with Bike Register or Immobilise then update your account to show your bike has been stolen.
Keep an eye on Ebay, Gumtree and Facebook Market Place to see if your bike is being sold on. However, if you suspect your bike is being sold, do not arrange to meet the seller, contact the police, quoting your crime reference number and let them handle it.
Report the theft to your insurance company or insurance broker, if you have insurance against cycle theft. All insurers will require a police crime number, and some may even ask for the broken chain and lock.
If you have household insurance your bike may be covered - it is worth checking, though many policies don't cover high value cycles, nor do they provide cover for your bike when away from home.
If you have an expensive bike then it is worth considering specialist cycle insurance. Some specialist policies also cover you for additional things including accidental damage e.g. from potholes and even your cycle kit.
Some bicycle locks have a guarantee, or Anti-Theft Protection Offer. These will reimburse customers for a set amount, in the hundreds of pounds, in the event their bike is stolen due to the opening or breaking of the lock. Again, check the small print to see what to do if you own such a lock.
Marking Your Bike
Security marking won't stop your bike from being stolen, but it may make it easier for you to get it back should it be stolen. Types of marking vary, from the local bobby hammering your postcode into the frame, to the concealed hi-tech RFID tags.
Here are some of the more common types:
- Tamper resistant QR Code stickers that you fix to your frame. The code contains a unique ID reference held on a secure online database which all UK Police Forces have access to.
- Kits to mark all of your bike’s components with hundreds of uniquely coded microdots. As above, the coded microdot contains a unique ID reference.
- RFID Bicycle Security Tag. These tags are usually concealed within your bike frame, and contain a chip with a unique ID reference that can be read by a suitable scanner (typically used by police and responsible second-hand traders). And again the ID reference is held on a secure online database.
More Commuting Tips...
Choosing a Bicycle Lock
The most important bit of kit you will need when parking your bike. But which type of lock should you consider buying? We look at the common types and discuss their pros and cons.
Potholes & Lighting Defects
Find out who to contact, and the best way to do it, if you have any issues with potholes, street lights, level crossings, and leaking water pipes.
Safe Road Positioning
Where is the safest place to cycle on the road?
Perhaps not where you first think!
Learn all about safe road positioning, including how far from the kerb to cycle, and what to do when the road changes in our guide.
Strava Privacy Zones
What are Strava privacy zones, why you should have them and how to set them up.
Our guide takes you through setting them up on the web, and via the mobile app.