I have had three bikes stolen, a pair of them during an especially painful summer. No wonder, bicycle theft is a common problem for cyclists, as bikes are often targeted by thieves for their ease of resale and portability. Well over 3.000.000 bikes get stolen in the EU alone every year.
First of all, let's compile and explore the methods thieves usually use. We are not talking about joyriders prowling on careless bike owners and their unlocked bikes, but more serious offenders.
There are several techniques to steal bicycles. The technique an offender uses will often be directly linked to the cyclist’s locking practices (i.e., the type of lock the cyclist uses and the way he or she applies it). When the bike is unlocked or poorly secured, little skill is required.
Lifting - Thieves lift the bike and lock it over the top of the post to which the bike is secured. If it is a signpost, then the thieves may remove the sign to lift the bicycle clear. Sometimes the post itself is not anchored securely and can be lifted clear of the bike and the lock
Levering - Thieves will use the gap between the stand and the bike left by a loosely fitted lock to insert tools such as jacks or bars to lever the lock apart. Thieves will even use the bike frame itself as a lever by rotating it against the stand or other stationary object to which it is locked. Either the bike or the lock will break. The thief doesn’t mind which—after all, it’s not his or her bike!
Striking - If a cyclist locks a bicycle leaving the chain or lock touching the ground, thieves may use a hammer and chisel to split the securing chain or lock.
Unbolting - Thieves know how to undo bolts and quick-release mechanisms. If a cyclist locks a bike by the wheel alone, then it may be all that is left when the cyclist returns. If a cyclist locks only the frame, then a thief may remove a wheel or wheels. In this case, if a cyclist leaves a wheelless bike with the intent of picking it up later, then the thief may return before the cyclist returns and remove the rest of the bike.
Cutting - Thieves are known to use tin snips, bolt cutters, hacksaws, and angle grinders to cut their way through locks and chains to steal bicycles.
Picking - For locks requiring keys, thieves can insert tools into the keyhole itself and pick the lock open
It's all about understanding the risk specific to your environment so you know what has to be done to minimize the chance of crappy bike theft, let's say experience.
Anyways, understanding contributing factors can help you frame your local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses.
Your local bicycle theft problem can take many forms, and you will need to determine the specific nature of the problem to produce an effective response. It may be limited to, or a combination of, thefts from in or around victims’ homes; thefts from public spaces; or thefts from particular areas such as university campuses or transit hubs. Knowledge of the location, facilities available, and types of bicycles stolen will aid in identifying conditions that might contribute to the problem.
This knowledge can also help you identify who is committing the offenses, and why. For example, where the quantity of stolen bikes recovered is high, a high proportion of offenders are probably joyriders. Preventive efforts for such offenders will differ from those for offenders who sell bicycles (acquisitive/volume offenders).
“In the Ellensburg study, it was found that police were less likely to recover expensive bikes than to recover cheaper ones.”
Bicycle theft is a good example of an opportunistic crime. Some of the reasons for this are encapsulated by the acronym CRAVED, which outlines why bicycles are attractive targets for theft. It is because they are:
Concealable - Most thieves will look inconspicuous riding away on a stolen bicycle, which effectively makes the crime concealable. In addition, offenders steal many bikes from public places where passersby conceal the theft.
Removable - If poorly locked, bicycles are easy to take and ride away. In other cases, quick-release features such as wheels or seat posts that are not appropriately secured require little effort to steal.
Available - Increased bicycle ownership and use provide more opportunities for theft and a greater demand for bicycles and replacement parts. In addition, poor locking practices by cyclists ensure a constant supply of available targets.
Valuable - Bicycles are not cheap, some costing thousands of euros. In the Ellensburg study, it was found that police were less likely to recover expensive bikes than to recover cheaper ones.
Enjoyable - Many thieves steal a bike simply because they want one. This may be to replace one that was stolen from them, or just for pleasure. Analysis of British Crime Survey data showed that the risk of theft for “sporty” bicycles such as mountain bikes or BMXs was twice as high as that for “ordinary” bicycles.
Disposable - Thieves can easily sell stolen bikes, either “whole” or “piecemeal,” to a fence or through other outlets (such as online auctions). Evidence suggests many thieves want to sell stolen goods quickly to reap a financial profit.
Abundant “buyer’s” markets for stolen bikes may therefore provide an incentive to steal. Regrettably little is known about the market for stolen bicycles, but the proof-of-ownership problem suggests few bicycles could easily be identified as stolen, which aids the sale of stolen bikes and reduces the risk of apprehension and identification. Moreover, offenders can disguise stolen bicycles by painting different parts, altering components, or scratching any property-marking etchings, making identification harder.
Take preventative measures to protect bikes from theft. This includes investing in high-quality locks, securing their bikes to immovable objects such as poles or bike racks, and registering their bikes with local police, where this option exists. Cyclists should also be aware of their surroundings and take extra care when leaving their bikes unattended, especially in high-risk areas.
The point is, that fortunately, there are several ways to protect your bicycle from theft and increase its chances of recovery if it is stolen. Here are some of the best ways to protect your bike:
There’s a chance the pro is staking out where your bike is stored and taking notes on how it’s secured. They probably have specific tools to break open locks. They’re in and they’re out, and they know what they’re doing.
You should still keep your bike locked and secured properly, preferably in areas with lots of pedestrians if you’re in a city. Remember to only lock your bicycle to a secure bike rack and give it a once-over before leaving it unattended.
Research on motor vehicle theft demonstrates the crime-reduction effects of improved locks, particularly immobilizers. While it is uncommon for security features to be integral to bicycle design, locks may reduce the vulnerability of parked bikes. The type of lock a cyclist uses is paramount. Weak locks are unlikely to deter offenders, so it is important to determine whether the types of locks victims of bicycle theft typically use could be part of the problem.
The effectiveness of a lock is also dependent on the type of bike thief. Bike thieves can be divided into three categories: “joyriders,” thieves that steal for money, and those who steal by volume. Joyriders, usually people under the age of sixteen, simply take a bike because “it is there” and they want to go for a ride. Those who steal for money are often looking for a quick profit to purchase drugs or alcohol. Those who steal by volume intend to sell the bikes, often as “used” bikes, on the gray market. A lock will very easily deter the first category, which various studies have indicated make up a significant proportion of all bike thefts. A lock can also deter the second type, especially if they are in need of cash quickly. It is estimated that if a lock takes more than five minutes to remove, the thief will move on. Bicycle locks do little to deter organized bike crime as there have been cases where entire racks have been stolen with the bikes still attached. While a lock remains the most effective way to prevent theft, it does little to aid recovery.
Despite how strong it may be, a lock is only as effective as the structure it is attached to. A bike locked to a metal bike rack is generally safe.
By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of your bike being stolen and increase its chances of recovery if it is. Remember, the best way to protect your bike is to take preventive measures and be vigilant about your surroundings.
Well, in that case, you better hope to have detailed information about your bicycle. The main way bikes are recovered is via a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) linked to an owner. This concept is not new, however, it is severely hampered by the fact that people often do not know the VIN number on their bikes and do not have it recorded anywhere. The sad reality is that not many bikes return to their owners. Even more so for expensive bikes that are the prey of professionals, and in this situation having a bike GPS tracker can be very useful.
Unfortunately, while a lock remains the most effective way to prevent theft, it does little to aid recovery. Hopefully, you would not be one of 80% of victims that do not report the theft to the police. Most bike thefts never get reported, the principal reasons being the same for decades:
There is a lot of truth in the second point as UK media Telegraph reports that the investigation suggests the national average for a suspect being identified and charged was just 1.4 percent in 2020. Just 1.4%.
Bike tracking devices, such as BikeFlare VISIO can help during and after the theft. The device is hidden and integrated into the handlebars and can help deter theft with its integrated sound alarm or let you know when and where the bike was taken.
Read more about the topic :
The Problem of Bike Theft in Europe and the USA and Ways to Improve the Situation
Bike Thieves and Most Common Bike Theft Areas
Choosing the Best Bicycle Tracker and Alarm
What Types of Bikes get Stolen Most Often
Bicycle theft research project: report to the State Bicycle Committee of Victoria
Bike thefts left unsolved in nearly 90pc of neighbourhoods - The Telegraph