How to Stop Your Bike Being Stolen

As populations within towns and cities rise so does the number of thieves, so today I’m going to teach you how to stop your bike being stolen.

If you’ve been thinking of ways to increase your bicycle’s security and ultimately stop your bike from being stolen, you’ve come to the right place. By the end of this short article, you’ll understand everything there is to know about bicycle security. 

By following the simple steps below, not only will you help keep your bike secure, but in the event of your bike being stolen, you’ll maximise the chances of getting it back!

Table of Contents

How To Stop Your Bike Being Stolen – The 9 Simple Steps 

You’ve just bought your dream bike, it’s a nice summers day, and you’re about to take it out for a spin. Before you do this it’s super important that you record as much information as you can about your bike. 

Figures show that 19% of bike thefts occur within the first six months of the bike being purchased, so don’t take any risks. Let’s get started!

 

1. Secure Your Bike Properly!

First things first, if you are unsure of how to properly secure your bicycle then have a quick read of a look at our bicycle security top tips. This guide will teach you the ins and outs of bicycle security, you’ll also learn a handful of ways that you can increase your bicycle security for free.

Stick with me and I'll teach you how to make your bike as secure as this one!

The steps below explain how to stop your bike from being stolen, but you’ll be doing yourself an injustice if you fail to secure your bicycle properly. Get yourself a secure bike lock and learn to use it effectively.

 

2. Take Plenty of Photos!

It’s important that you take photos of your new ride. If you’re tech-savvy you might want to show these images off on Instagram. But also to help prove your ownership if your bike was recovered after being stolen.

BMC Bike - take pictures of your bike to stop it getting stolen
I was rudely interrupted whilst taking pictures of my bike and it's components. Make sure you take better pictures of yours!

When taking your photos, make sure to take pictures of any unique features your bike has. You may have funky bar tape or grips, maybe you have tyres that are coloured, or maybe your bike has markings or dents on it that make it stand out from others. Much like receipts, these images of your bike and its features can help to prove that it’s yours.

If your bike doesn’t have any unique features, then consider modifying it so that it stands out more. Thieves will often paint the frame of your bike after stealing it, so don’t just rely on the frame colour.

Replace some of the standard components or accessories with something you like, a few coloured bolts or change the colour of a few of your wheel spokes. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend you completely cover your spokes in beads, it’s a great way to make your bike recognisable!

Make sure that you take photos of these modifications and keep your receipts. Personalising your bike will make it unique and make the chances of recovering it more likely in the event of it being stolen.

 3. Record Your Bike’s Serial/Frame Number

Of all of these steps, recording your bikes serial number is the most important. You can have as many photos, receipts and customised parts as you like on your bike, but without the serial number, there is a lot less chance of proving your ownership of the bike.

Each and every bike manufactured comes with a unique serial number, that you can use to prove ownership. A thief could paint the bike or strip it and sell it as parts. Regardless of what a thief does to it, as long as the bike has a serial number that you have proof of, it is identifiable to you.

How to stop your bike being stolen where to find the serial number
Here you can see the places on your bike where you may find your serial number. The bottom bracket is the most likely place.

If you can’t find your bikes serial number, then try checking underneath the bottom bracket. This is the most common place for the serial number to be.

If it’s not there then check all other areas of your bike you are looking for a series of number and letters normally around 6-8 digits long. Record and take pictures of the numbers you find. The more information you have saved, the better.

bike theft prevention, where to find serial number
Here is an example of what your serial number may look like on your bike
(credit - Bike Index)

Take a look at the pictures above for examples where to find your serial number and what a serial number may look like.

4. Mark Your Bike with an Identifiable Mark

I know a lot of you have probably just purchased a brand new bike will wince at the thought of marking your new ride, but it doesn’t have to be visible.

Consider etching your initials into your bike’s seat post, this way if the frame was painted by a thief you’d still be able to identify it. You could also get some custom stickers or even use a sharpie to write your details somewhere on it. 

If you’re feeling brave slap it in the middle of the frame, but if you’d rather keep that clean look, write it under your bottom bracket.

If the thought of visibly marking your bicycle still sickens you, then grab yourself a UV ink pen. These “invisible ink” markings are advised by police and insurance companies as thieves will be unaware of them, and multiple parts of your bike can be personalised with your details. 

Bike register covert uv kit

BikeRegister offer their own UV Covert Bicycle Security Kit, which I’d recommend. Have a watch of the video above to see how it works. 

5. Register Your Bike’s Information with Bike Register 

Bike register is the biggest bike registration scheme in the UK. Police recommend that you register your bike with BikeRegister and doing so is very simple and FREE.

The BikeRegister website is a police approved online database where you are able to upload your bike’s information and images. You’ll also be given a logbook so that you can record any relevant information.

Bike Register Logo

In the event of your bike being stolen and recovered, you’ll be able to use the logbook of information to prove your bike belongs to you.

When police locate a stolen bike, they check its details against online databases to attempt and recover the owner’s information. If you don’t register yours you’ll be missing out on an FREE extra level of security. It literally takes minutes to register! 

6. Consider Bike Insurance

Bike insurance is an interesting topic. Often your home insurance will cover your bike to some extent, so make sure to check the fine print of your policy and see what you’re covered for. By finding out these details you’ll be able to decide whether it’s worth you getting bike insurance or not.

Most of the time home insurance will only cover a bike up to the worth of around £300, so if you have a particularly expensive bike you may consider getting your bike insured separately. 

If you've spent a considerable amount of money on your bike, you may want to consider taking out an insurance plan.

 

With bicycle insurance companies, you’ll pay a monthly fee which will vary depending on the value of your bike. You’ll keep paying this monthly fee, and in the event of your bicycle being stolen, you can make a claim. 

Normally after making a claim, your monthly charge will increase. However different bicycle insurance companies have different terms and conditions so make sure you understand what you’re paying for before signing up!

Self insurance is particularly good if your bike is less expensive. Not only will you be insuring your bike, but you wont be pouring money down the drain each month!

 

Otherwise, “self-insurance” can be a reliable method of insuring your bike. Simply put aside a small amount of money each week or month and in the event of your bike being stolen, you should have a reasonable amount saved up to help towards a replacement.

Self-insurance is great because if you always secure your bike properly you won’t be flushing money down the drain. You may even end up saving for long enough to be able to afford a nice new bike, or the excess money could be used to maintain your bike and have it serviced. 

Alternatively, if you’d rather nip off on a sunny holiday…. you get where this is going. Save, save save!

Self-insurance is not always the best idea, however, especially if you have a significantly expensive bike. This is because it may take a substantial amount of time to save enough away to replace your bike in the event of a robbery or damage. So consider and research all of these options carefully before deciding what’s best for you.

 

7. Check If Your Bike Lock’s Brand Offer a Compensation Scheme

Brands such as Kryptonite and OnGuard offer compensation to those whose bikes are stolen whilst secured with their locks. It’s important that you do your research on the lock you have as they do not provide the same service for all of their locking systems. 

Kryptonite have an “Anti-Theft Protection Offer” which “reimburses registered customers for a specific monetary amount in the event their bicycle/motorcycle is stolen due to the opening or breaking of the lock by force”.

Kryptonite's ATPO table shows how much you'll be covered for, whilst using one of their locks and after signing up to the ATPO scheme. More about this is available on their website.

 

Whilst this may sound fantastic, it’s often a long-winded struggle to retrieve compensation from these schemes as there are very specific terms and conditions. Make sure you study the terms carefully to avoid disappointment.

You should not consider this as bike insurance, and depending on the value of your bike you may need separate bike insurance as well. If you decide not to take out bike insurance, Kryptonite’s ATPO is probably the better of the two, as the terms are less complex.

If your bike lock isn’t covered by one of these schemes, then maybe consider upgrading your bike lock to something that will be covered.

8. Get a Bluetooth or GPS Bike Tracking Device

If you use a top-quality bike lock and follow the steps above, the chances of your bike being stolen will be significantly less. GPS bike tracking is a relatively new idea, and there are many new products coming onto the market each month.

If you own a significantly expensive bike, then you may consider getting a GPS tracker. When it comes to bike tracking there are two different options, Bluetooth and GPS.

Bluetooth bike trackers are normally cheaper than GPS trackers. They offer an extra level of protection for your bike and can help you to locate your bike if you have had it stolen or can’t remember where it was locked.

 

How to stop your bike being stolen, a bike using a tile sticker bluetooth tracker

Bluetooth trackers do offer more limited coverage than GPS trackers. They communicate with your phone and will normally have an app that contains a map, that pinpoints your bike’s location. 

Some trackers are better than others and as stated before, bike tracking is a relatively new idea so keep your eyes peeled for new releases.

I recommend the Tile Sticker bluetooth tracker. This device measures 27mm x 27mm so can easily be used to track your bike, whilst staying undercover. The less visible to a thief the better. 

The Tile Sticker has a tracking range of 150ft (45m) which is not very far. However, if locking your bike nearby your phone will alert you if signal is lost to the tracker, which could warn you of an attempted theft! (Tile premium feature)

In the event of your bike being stolen, you can alert the system on your tile app and if your Tile tracker enters the radius of someone else who uses the app, it will alert them of the stolen bike, and then you will also receive a notification of its whereabouts.


Tile sticker bluetooth tracker

The range of the Tile Mate is its only small downside, its battery lasts for three years and its sleek design allows it to remain attached to your bike unnoticed. If you want a tracking system that offers more security and something with a much bigger range, you’ll need to use a GPS tracker. If you’re interested in learning more about tile trackers, check them out on Amazon here 

GPS bike trackers are more expensive than Bluetooth, but they provide a much better range. If you are considering a GPS tracker for that extra level of security, then take a look at the Boomerang GPS tracker. 

Whilst I don’t yet have hands-on experience with this tracker, reviews are mostly positive and the Boomerang is currently one of the most popular GPS bicycle trackers on the market.

The first image shows the Boomerang GPS tracker mounted on the frame of a bicycle. The second shows an example of an alert you’d receive on your mobile. You’d receive an alert like this if your bike was being tampered with whilst secured.  

 

9. Keep All of Your Bike Receipts – Purchase & Services

Whether you’ve bought yourself a brand new bicycle, or have opted for a second-hand bike it’s important to keep hold of your receipts of sale. Receipts help to prove that you have made a legitimate purchase, and will also come in handy if you have any issues with your bike.

Much like you would with a car, it’s a good idea to keep receipts of any work you have done on your bike as well. If you have your bicycle serviced, keep the receipt. If you buy a new saddle, keep the receipt. You can see where we are going here! Keep them, and store them somewhere safe.

Receipts in box - stop your bike being stolen
Filing receipts may sound like a nuisance, but they'll come in handy if you have to prove ownership of a stolen bike!

If you’re purchasing a second-hand bike for the first time it’s important to get a receipt written up from the previous owner. Simply record the date of the purchase, the previous owner’s name and contact details, and some basic information about the bike you’re buying.

Make sure you record the price, serial numbers, condition and the make and model of your new bike, and get the owner to sign the receipt to prove it’s genuine. These receipts can be stored safely and will form a ‘logbook’ for your bike. 

Just as you would with your car, keep receipts from any transactions related to your bike. 

 

Summary – How to Stop Your Bike Being Stolen

The above tips are the steps I’d advise you follow before your bike is stolen! Some are more important than others, and some will vary in usefulness depending on the bike you ride. One thing is for sure, the more steps you take to protect and secure your bike, the less likely it is that it will be stolen.

Ultimately you there will always be more that you can do to stop your bike being stolen. It’s up to you to do as much as you can to prevent this from happening.

The best measure you can take to stop your bike being stolen is using a quality Sold Secure approved bike lock. You’ll also want to learn how to lock your bike properly

If you have any interesting methods of securing your bike or any tips you’d like to share, please feel free to get in touch with us via the Contact Us page. I’d love to hear from you and will share your advice with our cycling community!

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About Me
Me and My Bike

Hello! My name’s James, I’m an avid cyclist and I’m the lead editor of BikeLockWiki.

I have invested three years into researching & studying bicycle security and I want to share the information that I have gathered with the cycling community.

I do this in the hope that people don’t have to simply become a victim of bike theft to realise and understand the importance of bicycle security. Read More…

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