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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Avoiding Bicycle Theft


When the weather warms up bicycles come out of the cellar, garage and porches for transportation and recreation.  They also become the target of thieves.  Bicycles are often ridden away and abandoned.  Bicycles provide a cheap, (stolen), means of transportation. They may also be targeted by more sophisticated thieves that are always on the lookout for an expensive model which can be easily sold for cash. 

Today there has been a proliferation of bicycles due to relatively inexpensive models imported from China and the growth of interest by adults that often can afford high end mountain bikes and racers.  A ten speed can often be purchased at a big box retailer for under seventy dollars while a bike hobbyist can easily spend a thousand dollars on a mountain bike.

Both ends of the price spectrum and everything in between can be protected by practicing “common bike sense” and making an additional investment in a good bike lock.  If you have purchased a high end bike then make the sacrifice and purchase a high end lock, some bike locks actually come with an insurance policy if the lock is defeated and the bicycle stolen.   If you have an inexpensive bike you may not want a lock that may cost nearly what the bike did but at least equip it with a lock.

First and foremost, if you or your children are accosted by a person demanding your bike with a threat of violence, give it up, no bike is worth your life or an injury.  Chances are they want to ride off on it and get away from you as fast as possible. Once gone immediately notify the local police with a description of the actor(s). This underscores the importance of recording the make, model and serial number, (keeping the original receipt in the owners manual with pictures of the bike is a good idea as well).  A stolen bike can be entered by the police in the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC).  Police departments across the country also recover numerous bicycles and if entered into the NCIC database the proper owner can be located and the bike returned.  If your local police department has a bicycle registration program take advantage of it and register the bike, it only takes a few minutes and is usually done at no or little cost.  This will also aid the police with returning your bike.

To avoid the theft of your bike the first step is to keep it out of sight.  Believe it or not, police take bike theft reports from citizens that have left the bike unlocked out in the open in their own yard all the time.  That’s an open invitation to thieves to ride off on it.  Place bikes in the garage or in the back yard.  Many thefts are targets of opportunity.  If not seen, it will not be taken. 

Next consider locking it even at home.  If it is going to be problematic for a thief to take it he may move on to the next target.  Also many miscreants know that entering a garage or porch to take a bike becomes a burglary, they may chance a theft complaint in municipal court but will want to avoid a burglary charge in Superior Court. 

When away from home, such as at school, playground, or train station, lock the bike to a bike rack. If there is no bike rack, consider a large, heavy fixed object such as a large tree.  Ideally the lock should include a cable that can go through both wheels and the frame.  In a worst case scenario where there is nothing to lock the bike to, lock the bike to itself, such as putting the cable through the frame and a wheel, that way at least the bike can’t be ridden away. 

Finally try thinking as a thief.  Look at your bike and consider how a thief might steal it.  If you find a vulnerability, determine how to overcome it, thus keeping it more secure.  Remember:  secure it out of sight; lock it when it has to be on public display; and retain all records to aid in reporting it stolen so if recovered you can get it back.