There is something special that happens when you find the right bicycle for you. A bond develops, and the more you ride the stronger it gets. However, there is an enemy of that bond lurking out there: the bicycle thief. Bicycle theft is a serious business. Depending on which statistics you read bicycle theft has increased over 10%, meaning that every year that up to 2 million bikes are stolen in the US alone. There was a video passed around on FaceBook recently that showed a brazen man standing on a garbage hamper, removing a city sign from its post, hauling a locked bike over the top of the post, and riding it away. The stats on bicycle theft mentioned above don't include parts stolen from a bike that make it unusable. For some reason not known to me bike thieves seem to only get a slap on the wrist, so this problem likely will not go away anytime soon, especially on college campuses. You need to do all you can to make sure your bike is safely locked, stored in a safe place, or always with you. Please understand there are professional bike thieves all over the country waiting for you to forget safety or be lax in your actions. Bicycle thievery is a very profitable enterprise. They know most of the tricks to get your bike, so locking a bike may be futile in some locales.
I had a bike stolen fifteen years ago. I was hurt and angry. That was when I decided to use folding bikes exclusively and stop using locks. Because my folding bike is lightweight and collapses into a manageable shape I take it everywhere I go: offices, stores, banks, the library, and on the bus, subway, and train. For libraries and official locations – court, federal buildings, museums etc. - I use a lightweight cloth or fiber bag to cover my bike and I sling it on my back. While shopping I put my bike uncovered in the shopping cart and roll around with it.
Here are some handy tips that might help protect you from bicycle theft:
1. Buy a high quality lock or two – preferably two different styles like a U lock and a cable lock (see the list below of bike locks recommended by Cycling Weekly) and use it or them every single time.
2. Be sure to lock your front tire and your frame to a strong surface. If you lock just your front tire thieves will simply remove the tire from the frame and haul the rest of your bike away. An alternative is to remove your front tire. Some people also remove the seat to make the bicycle less desirable to steal.
3. When storing your bike do so in a safe place in your home or at work. It’s best if that area also has a lock. That can change simple bicycle theft into break and enter, which has a greater punishment potential and therefore is less desirable to thieves.
4. If you carry your bike on a rack on top or at the back of your vehicle lock it to your car or truck. If you are carrying more than one, lock them together and to the vehicle.
5. If you store your bike in a locker in the basement of your building make sure to lock the bike to something solid, and make sure the locker has a high quality lock. Some people remove the front tire and seat. See point #2 above.
6. As soon as you buy your bike, take note of the serial number, etch a special mark in a hidden place, and take a picture of the bike, the serial number, and the special mark. This can help identify the bike as yours if it is stolen and recovered.
Bicycle Locks Recommended by Cycling Week*
Knog Bouncer bike lock – 7/10
Zéfal K-Traz A25 bike lock – 7/10
Squire Mako Conger bike lock – 8/10
Kryptonite New York M18 bike lock – 9/10
Hiplok bike lock – 8/10
Master Lock Criterion bike lock – 9/10
*I get no compensation for suggesting these while Cycling Weekly does. I offer them here as an indication of what you might consider because they are different styles and different manufacturers. Ultimately, you must decide what is best for you and your bike.
Please read how to prevent bicycle thefts, and make sure to write down your serial number as soon as you get your bicycle. Also take a look at bicycle law's resource for bike theft.
Stay safe and keep your bike yours!