Bike Theft Prevention

As you would with any other of your valued possessions, it’s important to take steps to reduce the possibility of your bicycle being stolen, and increase the possibility that it’s returned to you if it ever goes missing.

Increasing the security of your bike is as easy as locking it and logging it, or losing it:

  1. Locking your bike: no matter where you go, make sure that you are using a quality lock to secure your bike and any of your removable components or accessories.
  2. Logging the essentials: ensure to keep a record of the serial number, make, model, colour and year of the bike.
  3. Taking photos of the bike: ensure to focus on any distinguishing features that may help your bike stand out in a crowd, and have one taken of you with your bike for good measure.
  4. Reporting suspicious activity: if you see someone acting suspicious around your bicycle, or another out in the community, help deter bike theft in our community by taking note of the culprit’s appearance, and phone the non-emergency RCMP number at 250-492-4300.

Good bike ownership starts on the day you make the purchase – keep a copy of your receipt for your records, and collect all of the information that you would need to file a report to the police (make, model, colour, year, and, most importantly, serial number). Once you have the essential details recorded, ask a friend to take a picture of you with your prized possession, and take a few more of anything custom or distinguishing that makes your bike unique. To subtly customize your bike, consider engraving the frame and accessories with your driver’s licence or other unique number. Your driver’s licence number can be queried by the police for owner identification purposes if your bike ever goes missing and is recovered.

When purchasing your bike, leave room in your budget to invest in a high quality lock, or purchase one as soon as possible if you didn’t the day you purchased your bike. There are many locks out there to suit a variety of needs – when researching options, in addition to your preferences, consider the neighbourhoods you live in or frequent with your bike, how often and how long you leave your bike unattended in the community, and how often your bike catches attention. If you frequent places where bike theft is more common, leave your bike alone for more than an hour, or your bike attracts second looks, consider investing more time and money in your search for a suitable lock. At a minimum, look for a hardened steel lock, preferably either a steel chain and pad-lock or u-lock, of at least 13 to 15 mm – which can only be cut by larger bolt cutters that are much more difficult for bike thieves to conceal. Bike locks greater than 16 mm become even more challenging for a would-be-thief to cut. Finally, consider multiple locks: one to secure your bike to the immovable object, and one to secure all of your components together – the frame to both wheels, and anything else you might want to secure.

Whether you’re out in the community, or back at home and your bicycle is in the garage, always be sure to lock your bicycle – even if you’re only leaving it out of sight for a few minutes – as bike thieves only need seconds to ride away with it. When you’re out in the community, make sure that you’re securing your bike to an immovable object in a location that is well-lit and open – natural surveillance provided by a coffee shop window or adjacent high-traffic street will assist to deter the opportunism of bike thieves. Try to avoid leaving your bike in the same place every day, so a would-be-thief cannot pre-plan for an opportunity.

If you’re in the habit of locking your bike, try to get in the best-practice habit of ensuring that your lock attaches not only to the frame, but also to at least one wheel, when securing it to the immovable object. When locking your bike, keep the lock off the ground so it cannot be crushed, and, try to point the key-hole towards the ground to make it more difficult for a would-be-thief to pick. If you have any quick release components, be sure to lock them, if possible, or take them with you. If your bike is equipped with quick release seat or wheels and you don’t regularly use them, consider replacing the quick releases with standard bolts. Once your bike is secure, take anything that is not securely fastened to the bike with you – including your helmet, lights and any bags or other personal belongings.

Bike theft prevention may seem like a lot of effort, but, if it becomes your routine, it’ll be second nature and much less costly than the alternative. Be sure to participate in any bicycle registration programs available. Finally, remember that your bike is only as safe and secure as you make it, and it’s up to you to lock it and log it, or lose it.