One of the worst occurrences in life takes place when a fellow human being ascribes to themselves the power and right to wrongfully take away from you the things you have rightfully achieved. Losing a bicycle to thieves is one of those unfortunate events that actually happen to many bike owners. It is therefore the duty and responsibility of every owner to make sure that they keep their bicycles safe from the filthy and sticky hands of these bad boys and (a few) girls. This is because bikes are basic utilities to many individuals and families and some of these owners have a strong emotional attachment to these tools, going beyond just the monetary value of the bikes.
However, the fact that bicycle theft takes place should not be a cause of alarm for you as a bike owner. Just as you may not stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest on it, it is also a sigh of relief to know that you can actually prevent these bad boys and girls from stealing your bike. Just move on with me and find out the many possible options available at your disposal that you can use to keep your bike safe and thief-proof.
Why bicycles are stolen
Before we move on and discuss concrete measures that can keep “thiefy” hands off your valuable bike, let us find out why exactly thieves will target to steal your bike. The general underlying reasons are greed and another one is poverty. Greed may come to the front when one may look for all the extra-legal means to own things that they actually do not need, even when they have the financial ability to purchase those items. The second reason being poverty is inspired by the need to either possess that bike, but the thief can’t afford it or they want to get hold of it and convert it into some cash to meet other needs. However, most of these thieves steal bikes to feed addictive behavior and in particular drug and substance abuse in the ghettos.
As it stands right now, bicycle theft is on the rise in the developed world. Official statistics across major cities in North America and Western Europe are indicating the following:
– At least 1 bike is being stolen every minute;
– At least 50 % of all the bikes that are being stolen are stolen from home because most families assume that it is safe by default;
– Per year, over 20,000 bicycle theft cases are reported to the police, which is less than 10% of the total number of bikes stolen; and
– Less than 10 % of the bikes stolen are recovered.
Taking charge, not chances
The following are practical measures that you need to take to ensure that your bike is safe from thieves:
Avoid these spots
When parking in public places, do not leave your bike in places that are or look deserted and unsafe. If you feel that part of town is not safe for you, then it is not safe for your bike either. Places such as lonely alleys are obviously the wrong places for you to park your bike. When you park, make sure that the area has a heavy traffic of people so that to be sure that your bike will be visible to as many people as possible. Also make sure that if you are parking at night, the place does not just have heavy human traffic, but also it is well lit to enhance visibility.
Understand common tricks employed by bike thieves
All bike thieves are swift in executing their dirty missions. One of the things they take advantage of is that they know most people assume that a thief needs a long time to steal. Once you understand this you will be cautious to know that even a minute or a few seconds of neglect are enough time for them to steal.
To get to the core of this, it is always advisable to take time and do a mental “theft drill”. This means you may need to sit and watch bikers in the parking lot for a few minutes. Try to imagine that if you were a thief: what kind of strategies would you use to be a “smarter thief”? What loop holes would you exploit in the bicycle owners in order for you to steal? If you can answer these questions, then apply the same in the reverse because it will help you be more cautious.
Some thieves will use diversionary tactics. For instance, they may come and deflate or puncture your tires. This is meant to get you off the parking bay and get you to the nearest bike shop. Since they will have noticed you, they can organize themselves to trail you as you seek for repair while the others are carrying off your bike. Once you notice such strange and suspicious punctures, carry your bike with you to the bike shop.
When parking at home, make sure that you never leave your bike unlocked just because it is at home. Most bike thefts take place at home. Lock your bike in the garage or fasten it to an immovable object. Also make sure that the garage is built facing away from public view,but near or facing neighbors. This measure will ensure that any thief who comes will have to be visible in the neighborhood and it will be easier for you and your neighbors to notice any suspicious stranger lurking around.
Never over trust the CCTV
As sad as it may sound, most of the bike thefts take place in the glare of the cameras. Cameras do not and cannot stop thieves from stealing your bike. On the contrary, CCTV can only record them as they steal it and so make sure that the human eyes watching your bike are available in plenty.
Take some coins and invest in a proper security lock. A branded D or U lock is preferable because most cable locks can be cut through easily using a hacksaw. The reason behind this is that thieves will have to spend longer time trying to destroy a strong lock and this will deter them because their mission requires swiftness to accomplish. So the longer it takes for them to work, the harder it becomes for them to accomplish their mission.
Use the lock properly
Getting the right lock is just the beginning. You need to know how to lock the bike properly. Make sure that you lock both the wheels and the frame. The reason is that if the wheels are easy to remove, it only takes a few moments for the thieves to disconnect them and carry away the frame and leave behind the wheels still tied onto the stand. After you have locked the bike, make sure that the lock is as tight as possible so that the bad boys do not have it easy trying to get through their “tools of trade” in order to tamper with it.
Once you have locked the bike, make sure that you fasten it to an immovable stand or object that the bad guys cannot easily break or lift the bike over it and steal. Make sure that the post or stand is strong enough, made of material that will not take a thief a few seconds or minutes to cut through. Always remember to keep the lock facing downwards so that it is harder for the thief to try to pour in any corrosive substance that they might want to use in order to compromise and weaken your lock.
Do the recording
It is always advisable to record the serial number of your bike and keep it safe as soon as you buy it. This acts as a measure that you can use to help trace the bike in case it is stolen. However, this will only help in case the bike was sold whole because most of the bikes that are never recovered are usually dismantled into spare parts.
Do the marking
You can enhance the security of your bike by marking it with a unique code so that it can be used by police to track it. Moreover, you can make the mark more visible and enhance it with a tamper-proof sticker. This means that the thief who wanted to steal your bike for a quick sale in the streets will have it harder because they have to remove the tags first before disposing of it, which is a luxury that they can’t afford.
Register your bike
This is another safety measure that you can take to ensure that you recover your bike in case it is stolen. Registering the bike online and getting a logbook will give you proof of ownership and ease of recovery.
Get more aggressive and name it
Another way to enhance the safety of your bike is to drill your name on its frame. This will act as a deterrent to thieves who want to steal and sell because it is possible for them to unmark the bike before they dispose of it. However, it is not possible to remove the drill marks.
Once you have locked your bike, do not let the safety lock touch the ground. This is because it will be much easier for the thief to sledgehammer it on the ground and break it easily. Make things harder for the thieves because a lock that is touching the ground will take shorter time to break and that is all that a thief needs to steal, just some little time.
Be generous,but cautious as well
It is not strange to hear of cases where someone disappeared with another person’s bike. When you want to lend out your bicycle, always make sure that you lend it to someone you really know well and also be sure that the person can be trusted. We have “confidence” thieves who will easily cheat you out of your bike.
Give out your bike to responsible bikers only
Make sure that you do not allow young or irresponsible people go out with your bike. If you are allowing your teenage kids to go out with it, then make sure that they are responsible enough to know how to handle a bike in public. Ensure that you have trained them in all the matters relating to anti-theft measures so that you don’t watch them come back home on foot reporting that the bike has been stolen.
Do not park your bike in the same place every day
This is another precaution that is easily and often ignored, if not forgotten. Most bike owners usually assume that since they have fulfilled all the above, this one is not important.However,if you happen to be using your bike to commute to work and you use public parking bays, make a habit of regularly changing your parking position unless you are parking in a securely guarded place. This is because thieves will soon notice your parking patterns and if it happens to be the kind of model and brand they are targeting, you will become more vulnerable to their schemes. Most of the bike theft cases are coordinated and they are usually executed on order and it may not be easy for you to know if your bike model “qualifies” for that order.
Disassemble your bike
If you happen to be parking your bike for a long a time in the same place, it is a good safety precaution to remove the saddle, axle or even the wheels. Most thieves would prefer a bike that is ready for riding and sale. Unless it is being stolen for spare parts, then you can be sure that your bike will safe for the long-term.
Enhance the bike’s “ugliness value”
Not unless the thieves are targeting your bike for spare parts, they will always want to steal a machine that looks nice so that they can fetch more money out of its sale. This is a good measure for those who do park their bikes for longer periods of time in the same spot. This means that if you deliberately remove the eye-catching features of the bike, then the bad guys will not consider your bike a worthy catch.
You can park your bike in a public place for a whole day.However, never leave your bike locked in a public parking for a whole night.