Bike Tracks, the Canadian national bicycle registration system predicts over 200,000 bikes are stolen in Canada each year. Only half of bikes stolen are actually reported to police, and only 13% of recovered bikes are ever returned to their rightful owners!
While anti-theft devices are not 100% effective, the following tips should help deter a bicycle theft.
- When parking your bicycle, select a secure, well-lit area. Bring your bike indoors with you whenever possible.
- Lock your bike. Unlocked bicycles are an open invitation for thieves. Whenever you are not riding your bike, it should be locked, even when it's in your garage.
- Make sure that your bike is locked to a solid fixture that can't be removed from the ground. Remember that wood can be cut through very easily so make sure the fixture is made of a strong metal. Be sure that the entire fixture cannot be lifted and taken away with your bike.
- Avoid older bike racks that only hold the bottom of your wheel in place. Known as "wheel benders" for their ability to bend your wheels, they make it very difficult to lock your bike frame and wheels properly.
- Try to fill the space inside of your lock as much as possible. This makes it hard for thieves to insert tools to pry open the lock. If you use a cable-style lock, make sure you wrap it as tightly as possible.
- Be sure to lock up both wheels, as well as the frame. Just locking one part or the other could mean returning to find only parts of your bike attached to the fixture. If you are running your lock through the wheel, always lock it through the frame at the same time.
- Don't make it convenient to steal your bike. If possible, use two different types of locks at the same time (e.g. a cable lock and a U-lock). It stands two reasons: Most thieves want to make a quick getaway. They may not have the time or the tools to break two kinds of locks in a short time. Without a doubt, if there's an easier target nearby, they'll go for that.
- Secure any "quick release" or easily removable items by locking them or taking them with you. While these features are very convenient for cycling, they also make it convenient for a theft.
Register your bike
Let's face it — no locking system is perfect. Everytime a new anti-theft device enters the market, thieves find a way to beat it. If you want to make sure your bike can be returned to you if it's recovered after being stolen, register it with your local police department. Or better yet, list it with a national bicycle registration system available through the store where you bought your bicycle.
What if your bike is stolen anyway
Bicycles are covered by your property insurance. You can make a claim on your policy to cover the loss of your bicycle, but insurance is usually intended for large losses that you afford to replace on your own. See our article A stolen bike — to claim or not to claim for more details.