Bicycle Security vs Theft

If you live, breathe, and ride a bicycle you have thought about keeping your bicycle and gear secure. Not enough can be said concerning this costly and intrusive problem.  Differing pockets of thievery exist, yet the overall statistic nationally shows bike theft dropping, at least according to the FBI.  The change that has the biggest impact on this problem comes with the price tag of the bikes being heisted. Yup, the average price tag over the past 10 years or so has risen from $499 to $714 in 2014. No matter the statistics, a bike theft always stinks!   What can be done? Lots!

-Think security and consider preventative medicine – three things:

  • Take a digital photo of your bicycle,
  • get it licensed-either locally or with the National Bike Registry. It usually costs next to zip to register your bike.
  • Lock, lock,lock it up! The rule of thumb here- add the cost of a bike locking system to the overall price tag of the bicycle. The price of security should be commensurate with the price tag of the bicycle. The standard security system now includes both a cable and U-Lock or Link Plate Lock.
  • Optional might be to add a GPS tracker to your bike. The SPOT and Helios Bar are two types out on the market today.

Two types of theft occur- opportunistic and professional. Deterring the snatching of your bike is the goal of your security system . When it comes to opportunistic theft, a person might be prowling or walking by a bike left in front of a store or home with the idea that the rider/owner might be running in for something. Bikes disappear in seconds, literally! I hear about thefts and it really happens quick.  One person just bought a new -to- them bicycle, parked it in front of their apartment, ran in to get a lock and came out to an empty space. Never saw the bicycle again. Professional thieves know how to prowl carefully. Keep this in mind- if you post your rides on social media, pros can watch where you end up a ride and go to that spot in search of a target bike. They scan neighborhoods for garage doors that are open to see where bikes might lurk for the taking. Avoid leaving your garage open when not in use. Lock your bicycle up in your garage.

Locks– remember they deter thefts, not necessarily prevent them.

  • A cable can work as a deterrent for the opportunistic theft, but will not do anything for a professional effort.
  • Double or triple locking methods prove to be most effective.
  • Keep in mind that you want to park bicycles near other bikes. Trees prove to be much less secure (and you can end up killing them) than metal racks.
  • How you lock up your bike makes a difference also. Maneuver the bike lock so as to give as little possible room for a bar to get in and snap a u-lock.
  • Use a u-lock for the rear wheel and frame and a cable to lock up the wheel to the u-lock.

Around the city of La Crosse, WI, Dr. James Longhurst advocates for better locking by using social media and photos to”grade” locking jobs. “I really want the people who rely on their bikes to get around to avoid getting their freedom and mobility taken from them. That means getting lots of good racks installed in places of work, setting good examples of locking, and more.”  Check out “Hal’s Grading on Locking Bikes” for further tips on locking your bike.

What types of locks to buy/use:  The On-Guard or Kryptonite U-lock is usually regarded as the more secure. Each lock should have a security rating on the package. The folding link plate lock is a bit  more compact and easier to carry and it  also comes with a slightly higher security rating than a u-lock. 









-The U-lock also comes in narrower sizes, so pick one that will allow you to park a bike in a safe location. If your lock is too short and can not reach the parking rack, then leaving a bike out in the open with just a lock on it is close to not locking it at all.

-Another lock option is the NYC chain link lock. A pic is shown on the page. The lock and links are heavy duty and not too easy to cut. Heavy to lug around though. These do make for more accessible parking options as the chain can stretch a bit further.  So, be comprehensive when buying and using a bike security system.

The last item to consider might be a tracking device. Spot is a GPS tracking device that can be mounted on your bicycle. Alerts are generated if the bike moves at all. The other option might be a Helios Bar.  Bike NYC posted a pic of the Helios Bar. They include a GPS tracker also.

Bike theft takes ALL users to be more diligent.

  • Having licensing rallies,
  • getting the word out more,
  • getting thefts reported regardless if the victim considers it a waste of time are all actions we can take.
  • Remember that a license can be a deterrent, especially if parked next to a bike that is NOT licensed or locked.
  • When you walk or ride somewhere and find an unlocked or poorly locked bike, step up and admonish the owner to lock their bike.
  • Start a bike lock library at a local school. Make it a bit easier for students to secure their bikes, no matter the age.
  • Offer little education sessions at public events.
  • Advocate for better parking accommodations in your local jurisdiction.
  • Use social media to post stolen bikes.
  • Get a neighborhood watch going for bike thefts. Post signs as such.
  • Have local schools write PSA announcements and get the local radio stations to air them as a public service. The more publicity on this topic, the better we can start to stem the tide of thefts.

Let us all do our part to fight bike theft by doing our part – license, lock, and photograph each bike we own is a great start.