Things To Do If Your Bike Gets Stolen
Guest Post by Owen Geary, Head Mechanic
One of our most frequently asked questions is, “My bike got stolen, what do I do?” This is a difficult emotional experience that sucks the joy out of cycling.
The best way to avoid what often feels like a hopeless situation from occurring is to prevent it from happening. Here are a few actions one can take:
Take a few photos of the bike and its components (gears, brakes, shifters, drive train), and make note of the make, model and serial number. On most bikes, the serial number is stamped onto the underside of the bottom bracket. Other places the serial number is commonly located are: rear dropouts, chain stays, or the top tube.
-Register your bicycle on bikeindex.org and lock up your bike with a quality lock. --Use a quality U-lock and avoid cable locks as they can be cut easily and quickly.
-Secure the bike even when it is within your home, apartment, or garage.
-Lock your bike when in high traffic areas such as stores.
-Do not leave a locked bike on the street overnight.
-Lock the bike when it is in your car or on your car.
These tactics can help prevent or dissuade a thief from considering your bike in the first place as they typically go for the quick "grab-and-go."
If your bike is stolen there are some things you can do to improve the chances of its recovery.
What to do: Report your stolen bike to the local police, list it as stolen on bikeindex.org, 529 Garage, (a community-powered bike recovery service), and post in Utah Stolen Bike Listings on Facebook.
To legally recover your bike you need the serial number and police report, occasionally photos and parts description will pass but often the bike will have parts removed or swapped relatively quickly. Spread the word by telling your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers that your bike was stolen. Post a photo of the bike and the location from where it was stolen on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels you use. The more people who know the bike is stolen and have access to photos, the better the chances that it will be spotted.
Where to look: At first it might seem like a good idea to drive around the area where the bike was stolen, but unless you watched the thief ride your bike away from the scene this often isn’t super fruitful, most thieves are aware someone will likely be looking for the bike they are riding and try to exchange it.
Pawn shops can be a quick place for a thief to do just that, cash out on their hot item and avoid being seen. That said, it’s not in a pawn shop’s best interest to pay out for something they know is stolen, as the bike may circulate on the street being traded or sold to someone else. KSL Classifieds, Facebook Marketplace, Craigs List and other apps like Offerup can offer a higher dollar/higher risk option for thieves to move their stolen bike, so it can be worth checking these regularly or setting up an alert for a bike that matches yours. Most thieves are opportunistic, some are skilled at what they do and are better at avoiding detection. Sometimes bikes will sit for weeks or months before being reposted on a classifieds style marketplace to avoid watchful eyes of those who still feel the pain from their bike being taken.
How to Recover a Stolen Bike
If you are able to locate your bike and have a police report filed, you may be able to have a police officer accompany you to your meet-up if you found your bike listed online, or, if you find your bike at a pawn shop you can also have the police mediate and help verify/validate your recovery. If you see your bike on the street and feel the urge to confront the person riding it knowing that you are likely putting yourself at risk, it is always better if you can have a police officer to mediate and verify that this is in fact your bike.
Below are a few links to more information and resources for registering and recovering your bike: