If you’ve never had your bicycle stolen you probably haven’t given bike theft much thought. But bike theft is a problem that is growing exponentially. Some areas, urban primarily, are harder hit but no part of the country is immune.
For example, according to the National Stolen Bike Registry, in the Bay Area of California bike thefts have doubled since 2009. The FBI estimates that over 300,000 bikes are stolen each year in the U.S. It’s difficult to come up with precise numbers since many people don’t report a stolen bike; the actual number is probably much higher.
According to Robert Prinz, education director at Bike East Bay, "Bike theft is really a huge issue, especially here in the Bay Area. It's actually an issue that's getting worse, and it's not just an urban problem anymore."
It’s not uncommon for a stolen bike to end up hundreds, even thousands of miles away from where it was stolen, they are often sold off in a flea market within a few days of being stolen.
Cycling advocates point out that when a bike is stolen it can be virtually impossible to recover it if the owner hasn’t taken the proper steps to prove their ownership:
- Take detailed photographs of your bike
- Write down the serial number
- Keep all purchase records and receipts
Once you’ve gotten this information make sure it is kept in an easy to access, safe location. Altoserv makes it easy for you to keep track of your receipts, photographs and other documentation so you can increase the odds of recovering your bike if it is stolen.
If you fail to do these things, the odds of recovering your bike are at around 2% according to experts.
There are also many anti-theft and tracking devices coming on the market which can help deter a thief or track the bike if it is stolen. These devices range in price to around $120 all the way up to over $1,000.
Many of these devices will provide GPS coordinates of where your bike is located. Some go even further though; they can alert you on your smartphone if your bike has been moved and some of them can even lock the rear wheel preventing the thief from riding the bike.
When you consider that a high end bike can cost well over $1,000 these high tech gadgets don’t seem so expensive!
In addition to these devices, there are other ways you can prevent your bike from being stolen in the first place:
- Don’t use chains or cables to secure your bike, they are too easy to cut. Instead use a heavy duty U lock. Ideally, you should lock both the front and rear wheel since locking only the front will often mean the wheel will still be there but the rest of the bike is gone. Then, for added protection, use a cable to secure the seat.
- Try to vary your routine and don’t leave your bike at the same location multiple days in a row; it’s too easy for bike thieves to learn your routine and be ready to pounce as soon as you walk away.
- Try to leave your bike in well-lit areas where there is a lot of traffic.
- And, of course, keep all your photos and purchase information recorded with Altoserv where it can be easily accessed if you ever need it.
It doesn’t matter if your bike was purchased for a few hundred dollars at the local chain store or if you spent thousands of dollars; you still want to protect your property.
Being aware of the danger is the first step. The next step should be to protect your property by keeping accurate records and following the tips I listed above.
Remember, bike theft is a growing problem all around the country so don’t think it can’t happen to you, protect your bike!