Bicycles range in cost from the very inexpensive to the outrageously expensive. Most thefts of bicycles are crimes of opportunity. By taking just a few precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk of victimization.
Locks, Your First Line of Defense
Most stolen bicycles are unlocked, even if the owner had one available. Never leave the bike unlocked in public places and never leave the bike unlocked outside of your home at night. It only takes a few seconds to ride away on an unlocked bicycle.
The best lock available for bicycles is a U shaped lock designed specifically for this purpose. They are difficult to cut or break and have a low weight so they are easy to carry with the bicycle. Avoid cheaply made locks. In many cases, you get what you pay for.
Use steel cables or chains to secure bicycles. They should be at least 7/16 inch in diameter and be labeled as having been ‘hardened’. Secure the frame and front wheel with a cable or chain that is at least 6 feet in length. When using either a cable or chain, the padlock used is very important. Make sure the padlock also has at least a 7/16 inch hardened steel shackle.
How and Where to Lock Your Bicycle
Park your bike where there is plenty of pedestrian traffic or where it is clearly visible.
Always attach the bicycle to something immovable such as a bike rack. Make sure the bicycle cannot be removed by simply lifting the cable, chain or lock over the top of your immovable object.
Position the lock as high off the ground as possible. This takes away the leverage of anyone trying to use bolt cutters by bracing one handle against the ground.
Always try to lock both wheels as well as the frame. If you have quick-release wheels remove the front wheel and lock it with the frame at minimum. Never lock your bike by the front or back wheel alone.
Other Protective Measures
Make sure you record the serial number, make, model, color, style, and any distinctive markings or equipment of your bicycle at home. This information will be valuable in reporting your loss to the police. Many bicycles are recovered but go unclaimed every year because the stolen bicycle and found bicycles cannot be matched.
Many police agencies have a bicycle-licensing program to help identify found bicycles. Check with your local law enforcement agency.