Unfortunately, bikes are an easy target for thieves and it is up to you, the rider, to take extra care of your bike to ensure it is safe and out of reach from these sticky fingers.
We must be mindful of where we leave our bikes and that they do not become an opportunity for someone looking to make a few bucks or get a quick fix.
Here’s 10 tips to consider to prevent your bike from being stolen.
1. First thing to do – Take a picture of your bike and the serial number now. You will need the serial number to report a stolen bike and a better chance to get it back.
2. Ride your bike often. The more you ride it, the less time they have to steal it.
3. Always keep your third eye on your bike. Park where you can see it. Just because bike racks are around the corner does not mean you have to use them. Instead find a pole that is right out front where people can see it.
4. Use a good lock – a cable lock is very easy to cut and one should never rely on a cable lock to prevent a local thief. A U-lock or heavy chain lock is recommended, Investing in a proper lock is a wise investment.
5. Add plenty of bells and whistles to your bike – Deck out your bike and give it moxie. Extras on a bike create a paper trail for thieves. Thieves prefer an easy, clean bike and don’t want to deal with all the extras. Give your bike character and the perception that you are right around the corner.
6. Don’t leave your bike unattended for long periods of time. Store your bike safely at your house. Thieves are strolling our streets at all hours and an easy opportunity is an unlocked bike on the side of the house in the am hours. Take bikes inside. If you are confined to a small space, consider your bike your best piece of wall art and hang it proudly over the couch. If you ride to work, encourage your employer to provide a secure place for bikes.
For the unfortunate ones that have been victim to their bikes being stolen, I am sorry for your loss and understand the agony. Time will make it easier and realize that there are far worse things that can happen in the world. Hopefully you had some memorable rides on it and that you are able to find it or replace your lost set of wheels so to get you back on the road soon.
7. If your bike is stolen – please report it to SDPD. This is so important and valuable. The paperwork is simple. If there is no report, then technically there was no bike stolen. Please make a report if your bike is stolen, otherwise no-one will know, enforcement will be limited, and therefore bikes will continue to be stolen from our community.
8. Keep an eye out for your stolen bike. Often your stolen bike never leaves your community. I have recovered a bike six months after it had been stolen and still check every black beach cruiser as if it could be my lost childhood treasure that went missing a few years ago. Be optimistic and look out for it. It may just come back to you when you least expect it.
9. Use social media to bring awareness – neighbors are your best allies. Post on Nextdoor, check Craigslist, and send to your social network. Creating signs stating, Reward for Stolen Bike can also be very useful and help you find your favorite missing bike.
10. If you are still discouraged with bike ownership due to fear of it being stolen, or just haven't got around to replacing a stolen bike, I highly recommend a membership with DecoBike, our City’s bikeshare program. No need to ever worry about having a bike stolen, continued maintenance, or the lack of space to store a bike. It is a wonderful service for residents that have stations nearby and we should embrace the benefits that it provides.
If I could do more, I would request SDPD to use more bait bikes and to use them often in the most affected areas; the beach communities and downtown. As mentioned, if it is not reported, then there is no problem for that community. SDPD does have a few bait bikes that are in use and they are being successful in convicting the criminals of these crimes and often leads to investigation and convictions of larger crimes. I hope to provide an update on the progress of bait bikes in an upcoming issues.
Ideally, I would like our enforcement to have more power to investigate individuals that are flying around with multiple high-end bikes, but cannot put any food on the table. We all have seen the local homeless guy cruising the street on a brand new road bike, but unfortunately there is little we really can do about it.
Keep your bike secure, enjoy the ride, and ride often.
Your bike friend,
City of SD Bicycle Advisory Committee