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How to protect your bike from theft and what to do it’s stolen

Theft Happens

Bicycle theft is an unfortunate reality. Between 2017 and 2019, there were 5,000 reported bike thefts in Minneapolis alone! Read on for some helpful tips about how to avoid losing your bike to thieves.

Why are bikes stolen?

It’s generally low effort and has a good risk-to-reward return compared to other types of theft like automobiles. 

Why does bike theft hurt so much?

Ultimately, theft of your bike (or anything) can feel like a gross violation. For many of us who rely on our bicycles for transportation, our mental or physical health, loss of a cherished bicycle can be a traumatic and emotional experience. Bicycles, sometimes due to their lower costs aren’t reasonably covered by renters or home-owners insurance policies. Further, the reality of bike theft or perceived risk of bike theft can be a real barrier to getting more people out and riding. However, some bike thefts can be preventable if you take precautions.

What precautions to take

First, it’s important to catalog your bike and register it with your city and BikeIndex.org. When cataloging your bike, include photos and make sure to take note of any identifying characteristics like: serial number, size, make, model, year, color scheme, and personal touches.

Once you’ve cataloged your bike, investing in the proper locking mechanisms will further prevent theft. U-Locks are the safest type of bike lock, though they can be heavy, expensive, and awkward to carry. Nonetheless, the slight inconvenience is worth it to protect the safety of your bike. 

Pro-tip: leave your lock at your destination if you can, like a bike rack outside of the office. This saves the inconvenience of carrying a burdensome lock during your commute.

Even with the right lock, theft can still happen. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re locking your bike to a secure rack and never a pole or road sign that can be easily removed. Instead, look for racks that are cemented into the ground and located in a highly visible area.

Sometimes even the most diligent bike-owners can be victims of theft. If this is the case, file a police report immediately. Give the police your serial number, and ask for a case number so you can inquire about updates. The sooner it’s reported, the higher the likelihood it will be recovered. 

Another helpful resource is the Twin Cities Stolen Bikes Facebook group which operates statewide. There, you can post photos and a description of your stolen bike and get more eyes out there for online selling pages where your bicycle may attempt to be sold. 

And remember: don’t support theft. Be a responsible consumer. If you see a bike that is priced suspiciously low, you can use BikeIndex.org to check if a bike was stolen. Most importantly, never put yourself in danger; your safety is worth more than any bike.

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