For Sure: integrated locks are convenient but may not provide enough protection (Photo: velorution.biz)
Every year more than 1.5 million bicycles are reported stolen in the United States. There are several precautions you can and should take to ensure your bike remains where you locked it up as well as to facilitate its recovery should it be stolen.
Proof of Ownership
For the millions of existing bikes out there without RFID, it helps to take a photograph of your bicycle, regardless whether you obtained it new or used. The background for the photo should be of your place of residence to help prove you the photo is of your actual bike. Take a new photo if you upgrade or change expensive components on the bike.
Keep your sales receipt if you bought the bicycle new.
Write It Down: any and all serial numbers on your bike (Graphic: cherokeevillage.org)
Write down the make/model and serial number (usually found on the bottom of the frame) as well as details and sales receipts of any aftermarket components.
Register the details of the bicycle with photos and your basic contact details at the local police, online at one or more of the available bicycle registry websites and/or, increasingly, with the manufacturer if you purchased a new bike.
Municipal governments should encourage the voluntary online registration of bicycles, HPVs and bike trailers with local police.
Locking Your Bicycle
Park and lock your bicycle up near or alongside other bicycles, preferrably in designated bicycle parking areas. Don't use a only cable. These are easily cut by thieves. Use at least a U-Lock or both together. Lock the bike to a secured, immobile object like a tall pole or post and ring. Take advantage of any public space CCTV camera(s) by locking your bike in plain view of these.
Lock the front wheel to the frame using the cable. If it uses quick-release, remove the front wheel and move it closer to the frame to lock it using just a U-Lock
Compromised: post and ring bike parking can be easily broken by thieves (Photo: Photojunkie)
Take any shopping baskets or panniers with you if they are not fixed to the bike, are easily removed or are not lockable and you are concerned about the their loss or the loss of their contents. Also take any quick-release or clip-on components like LED lights, a bicycle computer or the saddle with you.
If applicable, also lock your bicycle trailer. If it uses quick-release, you may consider taking the hitch pin/clamp with you if its easily removed.
Look if anyone was watching you while you locked up the bike.
If you have a very expensive bicycle or human-powered vehicle, such as a recumbent or velomobile, consider getting a second, non-descript but still road-worthy bike used at a garage sale, flea market or anywhere secondhand that will safely get you from A to B but where you're not worried about leaving the bike alone or unattended.
The Batavus Personal Bike has an RFID tag embedded in the frame which police could scan (assuming they have the equipment) if the bike is reported stolen by its owner.
The University of Portsmouth in the UK has started tracking student's bikes using RFID tags. Students park their bikes in designated areas and then register the bike's location using a mobile phone. Before retrieving the bike, riders must call and enter a pin number. If a pin number is not called in, moving the bike will cause security cameras to zoom in on the action.
Oregon State University and city of Copenhagen are starting up other anti bike theft RFID initiatives.
Another interesting development at the prototype stage is the bike alarm. Invented by electronics engineer and cyclist Sascha Hass of Hanover, Germany, the bike alarm is permanently mounted to the frame of the bike. When activated, the built-in motion detector reacts to when the bicycle is moved, sending out a large piercing sound to attract the attention of passer-bys.
Upload the photo (you took one right?) and a description of the bicycle to the local classified ad sites informing the community it was stolen. Log it in any stolen bicycle registries.
Watch the local classified ads (online and offline) and online auction sites.
Offer a financial reward or other incentive if the bicycle was meaningful to you.
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