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Theft Prevention

Don't let a criminal ruin your day.

Any lock can be broken, given enough time and the right tools, but there are ways to reduce theft risk. 


  • If possible, take your bike indoors with you. Your next best option is locking it where you can still see it. Otherwise, lock your bike in a highly visible, well-lit area as close to your destination as possible.
  • Always lock your bike, even if you are only going to be gone for a minute. Stealing an unlocked or improperly locked bike only takes a few seconds.
  • Never lock only your bike’s front wheel; you may come back to find just the front wheel.
  • Lock your frame and wheels to something solid and permanent; a thief can lift a bike over and off a sign post.
  • Take anything removable – unlocked wheels, seats, computers, lights, bike bags, etc. – with you. If you can remove it, so can a thief.

Locks and Cables

  • U-locks tend to be the strongest type of lock. Cable locks are only a minor deterrent to a bike thief. If you can, remove your front wheel and U-lock it to the rear wheel and the frame so that you fill the “U” of your U-lock.
  • You can add cables, locking quick-releases and/or seatpost bolts to secure your wheels and seat.
  • Lock your bike to a bike rack when available.
  • Don’t lock your bike to fire hydrants, police and fire call boxes, traffic-signal poles, handicap ramps, and bus or loading zone posts. Also avoid trees, and never block public right of way on sidewalks.

In Case of Theft

  • File a police report at the local police station with details of the theft, including your bike’s serial number, and request a case number.
  • Cite the case and serial numbers whenever you communicate with the police.
  • Follow up by phone periodically to see if your bike has been recovered.
  • If you have purchased “scheduled item” insurance on your bike, contact your insurance agent. Otherwise, you must weigh the costs and benefits of filing a homeowners insurance claim.
  • Create a Google Alert with your bike’s description to receive email notifications if your bike is posted for sale on sites like Craigslist and Ebay.

Serial Numbers & Registration

Even if the police recover your stolen bike, you won’t get it back without the serial number. They need proof of ownership. Ask your bike shop to show you your bike’s serial number on the frame and on the sales paperwork. Some communities, including Minneapolis, will register serial numbers to help you recover your stolen bike. It’s also a good idea to keep a photograph of your bike on file.