Follow these steps to protect your bike, and if stolen, increase the chances of having it returned.
As soon as you buy a bike you should:
Buy a decent lock - preferably two
Expect to pay at least £40 for a decent lock
Mark your property
There are various ways to mark your personal property to protect it against theft and help police to return it to you if it is stolen and recovered.
You can mark your property yourself, quickly and at very little cost by using the following techniques:
- Forensic Marking
- Ultra-Violet Marking
We recommend that you mark all of your valuable and personal items. Take a photograph of them too.
Lock your bike
Storing your cycle inside your home or office - especially overnight - is the safest option. (Many insurance companies will only cover you if you store your cycle inside overnight). Althernatively, if home/office is not feasible, would be a shed or a garage.
Secure your bike?
- When parking on the street it is generally best to use cycle parking stands. Avoid using "street furniture" as these may be removed by Local Authorities. Keep in mind that some posts lift out of the ground, while cycles can be lifted off shorter posts like parking regulation signs and parking meters
- Ensure you are not blocking pavements for other users and that you are not using fixtures that have signs asking you not to secure your cycle to them (or it may be removed/double locked)
- Park where there is good street lighting.
- It is always best to lock your cycle in view of CCTV so it will be visible thieves will have less opportunity to steal or vandalise it. Avoid hiding your cycle away out of public view, which gives the thieves the time and privacy to steal it.
How should you secure your bike?
Always lock your frame and both wheels to an immovable object.
Take all accessories and easily removable parts with you, and be aware that quick release levers can make seats and wheels very easy to remove. You may need to take these with you or lock them with the bike if you have not replaced quick releases with a normal nut and bolt or specialised locking nut and bolt.
Use a good quality lock. The lock you choose should reflect the circumstances you will be locking your cycle under. The less secure the location the tougher the lock needs to be. Good advice is to spend at least 20% of the value of your cycle on a lock and preferably use two different types of lock if you are leaving your cycle for any length of time.
When using a chain to lock your cycle avoid laying it against the ground or against walls as thieves can smash the chains against these. Instead, lock the chain high up around your bicycle and what you are locking to.
When using D locks (sometimes called U locks)
- Attach your frame and back wheel (optionally taking off the front wheel or include this too) to the immobile object you are locking to so you leave a minimum of space between these. This stops thieves inserting bars or jacks into the space and levering them open
- Buy as small a D lock as is practicable to fit around what you are locking up
- Position the lock opening facing down so it is harder to pour substances into the lock (these can be used to eat the lock away or to glue the lock up so you can't get it open and thieves can come along later to force it open).
What locks should you use?
Lock strength can vary enormously and you generally get what you pay for. Essentially any lock can be broken, but having a lock will definitely deter opportunistic thieves and using more than one type of lock will make stealing your bike even harder.
There is a three-tier security grading system developed by Sold Secure (a non-profit making company which assesses security products) and used by many insurance companies.
At the highest level are the Gold rated locking devices. These give you maximum security but may be too bulky or expensive for the average user. The Silver and Bronze levels may be lighter and cheaper but should still offer defence against the opportunist thief. When deciding which lock to buy you need to consider how much your cycle is worth, where you will be leaving it, and how often and for how long it will be left unattended.
D lock/U lock
These are rigid steel locks in a D or U shape, generally very heavy and tough looking, though the actual strength can vary and is normally reflected in the price you pay. D locks are by no means thief-proof and are best used in combination with another form of lock.
Finally get Your Bike Insured.
An easy way to do this is to extend your home contents insurance to cover your bicycle - but make sure it covers you for thefts outside the home too. If your bicycle is particularly valuable, you may need to insure it separately.