Knowledge Level: Beginner
A sad fact of cycling is that bikes get stolen. Whether from your home or when you’re out and about, your bike is always at risk from theft. With a lucrative and easy resale market online, thieves will target locations where they know expensive bikes are regularly stored.
A determined professional thief with the right tools and techniques can make depressingly short work of even the most expensive and robust locks but more opportunistic criminals can be put off by following these tips.
Before considering locks and security, make sure you have adequate insurance in place should the worst happen and your bike is stolen. Don’t assume that your household insurance will cover your bikes as often the value is limited or you have to declare the bikes and pay an extra premium. Check what security your policy calls for, whether it covers your bike away from home and that you’re meeting these criteria. Many insurance companies will specify a Sold Secure rating for any locks you use. British Cycling members are eligible for discounted specialist bike insurance.
If the worst happens
If you’re unfortunate enough to have your bike stolen then it’s imperative that you report the theft to the police. Even if you don’t think you’ll get your bike back it’s worth doing for your own insurance claim and to ensure that the police are aware of the number of bikes being stolen. Provide the police with as much information as possible including the frame number, make/model of bike, distinctive details, where and when it was stolen, and if you can, a photo.
Some police forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, give you the option of reporting the theft online but, if not, you have to report the crime by phone or in person. Make sure you get a Crime Reference number as this will be essential for any insurance claim. Many insurance companies will also insist on you producing the key for the lock that secured the bike. There are also a number of electronic tagging schemes available that many police forces are aware of and can make finding your bike easier. Also, the sticker saying that the bike is tagged could just sew a seed of doubt into the mind of a potential thief.
At Home: Always lock your bike when at home. The most secure place to keep a bike is in the house; then a garage; then a shed. Storing outside leaves your bike the most vulnerable.
Outside storage: If storing outside, remember to store in a concealed location and cover your bike to protect it from prying eyes (and the elements).
Lockers: Some companies sell bike lockers for domestic use. Always go for a locker that is accredited by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Secured by Design scheme. Not a cheap option, but good if you don't have room for a shed or garage.
Anchors: Consider investing in a ground anchor. An anchor with a Sold Secure rating will be best as they have been tested against attack. An anchor mounted on a wall will prevent locks having contact with the ground which leaves them vulnerable to lever, bolt cropper and chisel attacks.
Heavy duty: When locking at home, invest in motorcycle locking equipment as this is stronger and as you are not taking the equipment out with you, weight is not an issue.
Alarm it: If you are storing in a shed or garage consider investing in a simple alarm system. Most DIY stores will sell a cheap system with Passive Infra Red (PIR sensors). This will make a loud noise when activated which may cause the offenders to leave and allow you to call the police.
Remember to put warnings stickers outside the shed / garage to further dissuade offenders and hang curtains to prevent prying eyes from looking in.
Door security: There are good products available to reinforce and lock garage doors. If purchasing these, check that they are Sold Secure and / or Secured by Design approved.
Check that once garage locks and reinforcements are fitted there is not the opportunity for offenders to peel back the lower corner of a garage door to gain access. In this case it may be worth fitting two of the same product to prevent this.
Online security: If you share details of your rides on social media, ensure you are able to set-up a privacy zone on your mapping app so that it’s not possible to work out the exact location of your house. Thieves are now using ride mapping sites to target keen cyclists who may have expensive bikes.
On the go
Always lock your bike and make sure it is left in a well lit area with lots of people passing. Lock in a location with other bikes as there can be safety in numbers. Try not to lock your bike in the same place everyday.
- Where available lock to a “Sheffield Loop” stand. Never use “wheel bender” stands where you can only lock the wheel to the stand.
- Lock to a fixed immovable object that the bike cannot be lifted over and cannot be broken, cut or removed.
- Invest in a good quality lock. Expect to pay at least £40, or around 20% of the value of your bike. Buy locks that have achieved the Sold Secure award.
- Consider replacing quick release skewers with bolted or security ones.
- Avoid cable style locks. Most are easier to cut than D-locks or chains. If you’re leaving the bike for any length of time, never use a lock with a combination as many can be opened with brute force.
- For maximum protection use two locks of different types. A D-lock and robust chain with padlock are ideal because thieves are less likely to carry the tools to break both locks. If they do it will take longer and be more noticeable.
- Use each lock to catch the wheels, frame and stand. Fill up as much of the space within the D-lock as possible.
- Never leave your locks in contact with the pavement. Locks can be easily broken with bolt croppers or a sledgehammer when using the ground as a lever.
- Even if you’re just popping into a cafe for a cup of tea on a club run, secure your bike with a lightweight lock. It won’t stop a determined thief but it’ll put off an opportunist.