According to Statista, around 12.4 percent of Americans cycle or ride a bicycle on a regular basis. Moreover, the number of cyclists in the United States increased to 47.5 million in 2017 from 43 million. This comes as no surprise, though, what with the convenience and a whole lot of other benefits cycling offers.
Riding a bike not only saves you fuel costs. There are a lot of advantages to cycling on a regular basis that you cannot get from riding a car. One, it is for beginners. It is quite easy to ride a bike, and if the standard bike is too hard for you, you can always try stationary bikes for a much easier start. Two, it is a form of exercise and is generally good for the body. It helps lower body fat levels, improves leg strength, improves joint mobility, increases cardiovascular fitness, and helps prevent or manage diseases. Lastly, it boosts mental health. Cycling reduces stress levels and can ease feelings of depression and anxiety.
With all these benefits, it comes as no surprise that a lot of us want to go cycling. Bike riding is not costly and has a lot of health benefits. But with the increase of bike riders comes the increase of one crime—bike theft.
Bike Theft Statistics
On average, more than 188,500 cases of bicycle theft are recorded in the United States alone each year. But these numbers are not everything, as these are only the cases reported to the police. In truth, over two million bikes aqe stolen in the US and Canada each year. Over the past few years, the numbers have doubled. This means, every 30 seconds, someone’s bike goes missing. Of the two million, only several hundred thousand bikes are reunited with their owners.
But yours does not have to be part of the statistics of bikes not getting recovered. Here’s what you should do after your bike got stolen to increase the chances of it getting returned to you.
What to Do if Your Bike Gets Stolen
- Use social media to get the word out.
Take advantage of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform you are on to recover your bike. Include some details in your post like the make and model of your bike, where you last saw it, where you put it, and what time you think it was stolen.
There are also social media pages that are specifically created to help bike owners retrieve their stolen bikes. Some of them have huge following, and they can tweet or share a post with their followers about your missing bike. A good example is Bike Watch NYC in New York.
- List your bike as stolen.
Register your bike with various organizations that keep track of bikes like Bike Index, National Bike Registry, and National Cycle Database. Their databases get updated if the police recover a bike or if anyone is offered a bike and they check the serial number and see that it’s your stolen bike.
If you have not registered with any of these, it’s not too late. You can always create an account, log in, and register your bike’s information including its serial number, make, model, and other important details.
- Inform the police.
File a police report as soon as you find out your bike has gone missing. Give them all the information you have on your stolen bike including the make and model, serial number, and some photographs. You may also have to give them some of your personal information like your name, gender, date of birth, contact information, and your mailing address. You will also have to give them details on the circumstances surrounding the theft, like when and where it was stolen, if there is a CCTV in the area where you last parked it, and the like.
This is all so if they recover a bike and you’ve given them all these pieces of information, they can link the bike to you and you will get your precious property back.
- Check eBay or Craigslist.
What better way to make use of a stolen bike than to sell it, right? So thieves will always find a way to turn what they stole into money. Most often, they turn to the Internet to try to sell it anonymously. So it pays to take a look at Craigslist, Gumtree, or eBay to look for your stolen bike.
Register first on these sites so you can start receiving emails from them. Search for the make and model of your bike and save the search criteria so any new listings are sent to you via email.
- Pay flea markets and pawn shops a visit.
Some thieves will turn to flea markets and pawn shops to try and trade your bike for something else, sometimes money. So pay a visit to these places and look for your stolen bike. But if you find it, remember to contact the authorities first before dealing with it. This is a way to protect yourself.
How to Prevent Your Bike from Getting Stolen
If you do not want to go through the hassle of looking for your bike, then it is better to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here’s what you can do to prevent your bike from ever getting stolen.
- Always lock your bike.
Always, always lock your bike. Invest in a good lock. Choose a lock based on your needs. Take into consideration where you usually park your bike when purchasing a lock.
The smaller the lock, the lower the level of security it provides, but it is easier to carry with you. The heavier the lock, the better the security, but it will be hard or too heavy to carry around. So if you are the type to go to drop by coffee shops on your bike, then buy a small, lightweight lock that is easily portable. But if you ride on your bike to school or work, buy a heavy-duty lock that provides maximum security for your bike that you have to leave unattended all day.
- Secure the frame.
When locking your bike, lock it”steel to steel,” which means the lock should be around the bicycle frame and the sturdy metal it is being attached to. If you happen to be in a more secluded area, try locking your bike around a large sturdy object, like a tree, for example.
- Lock it in a high-traffic area.
While it is important to lock your bike in a well-lit area, it also pays to look around and see if you are parking it somewhere there are a lot of people walking by. This is so when someone attempts to steal your bike, they will get noticed quickly and you will be alerted immediately.
- Register the bike.
As mentioned, it is important that you register your bike with the national registry. But your options do not stop there. There are many local cycling communities that offer a bike registration service. Most often, police will look through local databases to try to match a recovered bike with its owner. So if you don’t have yours registered, your bike will be good as gone. So take the time to create an account and log details about your bike. Include a photo so the authorities can easily determine it is yours.
- Invest in a GPS tracker.
Seek the help of the latest advances in technology to retrieve or protect your bike from being stolen. GPS trackers are small, lightweight devices that, when attached to something, will give you the real-time location information of the tracked object. Most of these devices also have geo-fencing feature, which allows you to create a safety zone, an area that you deem is safe for your bike. When the object goes beyond this area, you will be alerted immediately via email or text message or push notifications via the app that comes with it. Convenient, right?
There are a lot of GPS trackers on the market, but one of the best is Tracki. It is affordable, works indoor and outdoor, and works worldwide.
So save yourself from the hassle of looking for your stolen bike and start attaching one of these devices onto your property to prevent it from getting stolen.