You know how it feels: that sinking feeling in your gut. Your bicycle is stolen, and all that remains is a cut U-lock on the floor. What do you do now? What could you have done to prevent it? Below are a few recommendations on how to keep your bike safe, and how to get it back in the future.
Before your bike gets stolen:
- Register your bike – In the Heights communities, you’re required by law to register and licence your bike. It’s a good thing — trust us. If you bring a helmet to city hall and promise to wear it, the registration is free. And now, if your bike is ever stolen, the police will have a record of your bicycle and be able to contact you.
- Take photos – The key to getting your bicycle back is advertising, but no one will be able to help you if they don’t know what it looks like. Take photos of your bicycle, especially of areas where the bicycle is unique. Stickers, scratches, dents, and other markings are very helpful in identifying bikes.
- Record the serial number – Every bike has a unique serial number stamped on the bottom bracket. You can find this by turning the bicycle upside down, and you should see a number where the crank meets the bicycle frame. Record this number. Email it to yourself — you won’t regret it later.
- Buy a lock (and use it) – Locks aren’t always fool-proof, but they do help deter theft. Cable locks are good, but can be cut easily. U-locks, like in the photo above, can also be cut, but they’re really the best option. Locks that seem expensive (say, $45 or more) can save you money in the long run…
- Store the bike in a visible and secure location – Don’t assume that your apartment basement is safe because it is behind locked doors. Anywhere where your bicycle is highly visible to the public is the last place where a thief wants to loiter. Sometimes locked basements, where its quiet and concealed, offers opportunities for thieves to take their time stealing your bike.
After your bike gets stolen:
- Call the police – We’ve found that Heights-area police are sympathetic and pro-active in getting bikes back to their owners. Call the police, and be ready to provide them with a sheet that has the photos, serial numbers, licence numbers, and your contact information.
- Advertise – The best tool to get your bicycle back is eyes — lots of them. It’s impossible for you to monitor every website and location for your stolen bike, but it does significantly increase your odds to have a community keeping watch. Post your photos, serial numbers, and contact information on websites like Craigslist. Email Cleveland bike shops. Email your friends. Post on Twitter and Facebook. The internet era has made it harder for bike thieves and much easier for you.
- Keep an eye out – Do your best to monitor websites like Craigslist, Nextdoor or Facebook for your bike.
Report and advertise your stolen bicycle:
The Heights Bicycle Coalition partners with Bike Cleveland for resources for people who have lost their bicycle.