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12 Steps For Getting Your Stolen Bike Back (Infographic)

Jeff Balton

Your bike got stolen? Don’t lose hope! There are plenty of ways in which you can recover your wheels.

How to get your stolen bike back - infographic

So, apparently, your bike has been stolen. It’s completely normal to feel angry, enraged, disappointed and helpless. However, it’s important to realize as quickly as possible that you are everything but helpless. After you get over the initial shock, you should immediately start taking action that will increase your chances of getting your bike back.

Some of these things need to be done before your bike disappears, as a means of precaution and protection, whereas others must follow a theft as soon as possible.

Here are our 12 best tips that will either deter thieves or help you become reunited with your beloved two-wheeler.

#1 – Find Your Bike’s Serial Number

The first thing you need to try to remember is whether you have recorded your bike’s serial number when you bought it. A lot of people do not know that, but every bicycle has a unique serial number, just like cars. This number will help you find and identify your bicycle with certainty.

This is absolutely your best chance of reporting and tracking the theft. If you didn’t write the serial number somewhere, you might be in trouble.

But something can still be done. If you still have your purchase documents, the number is written somewhere in there, so start looking for it. If you cannot find the documents, contact the shop where you bought it, as perhaps they have records of the purchase.

But what do to if you bought the bike second-hand? Try to contact the previous owner and ask them about the serial number. In the future, when you buy a used bike, ask for the documents or just write the number down instantly.

The best way to never lose your serial number is to send it to your e-mail. This way, the information is saved forever and is easily retrievable.

#2 – Notify the Police

A lot of people don’t believe the police can help them find their stolen bikes because they are too busy solving much more serious crimes.

Still, you lose nothing by reporting the theft to the police, and you stand to gain a lot. If the police catch a burglar, they can take them to a huge warehouse, which is where your bike might be as well.

If you reported the theft and gave the police your bike’s serial number or description, they will notify you if they find your bike.

#3 – Notify Everyone Else via Social Media

Tell everyone that your bike has been stolen! We live in the times where information is very easy to pass along. Therefore, you can notify thousands of people that your bike has been stolen in several minutes.

Share photos, the serial number, and other related information on your social network profiles. Post the information in cycling groups on Facebook, so that fellow riders can be on the lookout for a bike of the description you have provided.

Many bikes have been found this way!

#4 – Register the Theft in the National Bike Registry

Another way of making the theft of your bike official and notifying authorities is by registering the theft on Bike Index, the National Bike Registry. Make sure to include the most important information about your bike, that will help anyone (including the law enforcement) recognize it if they spot it.

#5 – Set up Google Alerts to Get Notified

Google Alerts are very fun to use! However, they can also be very useful if you use them the right way. One of the correct ways to use this service is to set up multiple alerts containing all of the most important information about your bike.

This way, if the thief attempts to sell your bike online or if a local bicycle chop shop gets raided by the police, you will be notified first.

#6 – Get Your Hands Dirty

Sometimes it’s not enough to only rely on other people to solve your problem and get your bike back. Instead, you should go out and do things the “Sherlock Holmes Style.”

Start visiting flea markets in your area. If you have enough time, you should visit the flea markets in the surrounding cities and towns, as stolen bikes are often not sold in the same area.

Try to think about all other places where used bikes are usually sold and visit them frequently. Hopefully, luck will be on your side.

#7 – Don’t Forget to Check Online

The majority of used bikes (including stolen bikes) are sold online nowadays. That means you stand a good chance of finding your bike if you check these online marketplaces.

The two most popular sales apps are LetGo and OfferUp. At the moment, they are known as the hotbeds for stolen bikes, so they should definitely be on your list.

Visit them frequently and try to spot your bike. When you do, notify the police first before you take any other steps.

#8 – Bike Recovery Groups Jump to the Rescue

Do you live in a city with a large bike community? If the answer is yes, you are quite lucky! You should contact that community and tell them about your problem.

Bike cycling groups usually have a way of dealing with bike thefts since they are quite common. For example, they might have a Facebook group where you can share valuable information or a mailing list which they use to notify people to be on the lookout.

#9 – Pretend to Be a Buyer

A good way to trick the thieves and lure them to come to you is to set up several ads online. Publish an ad in which you will state that you are buying two models of bikes, one of which is the one that was stolen from you.

This way, you will lower the chances of making your ad suspicious and increase the chances of being contacted. For thieves, this is a much better way to sell a stolen bike than advertising the bike themselves.

#10 – File a Claim If You Are Insured

Unfortunately, not a lot of people insure their bikes. That’s a big mistake! If you have insured your bike against theft, you should file a claim. You won’t get your bike back and you won’t be compensated for the emotional loss, but at least you’ll get some money back to buy a new two-wheeler.

#11 – Choose the Bike Lock Wisely

Buying the right bike lock is the most important thing you can do to protect your bike! If you tried to save money when you were purchasing one, now you have to deal with the consequences.

Unfortunately, there are no locks that cannot be broken or disabled. None of them can completely stop the thief. However, they can buy you time.

It’s not the same to have a lock that can be cut in 5 seconds with a pair of plyers and a lock that requires a much noisier tool and much more time to cut through.

The more time the thief needs to spend on the lock, the higher the chance that someone will stop them from finishing the job.

#12 – Mistakes Are an Opportunity to Learn

The last thing you want is to repeat the same mistake twice. Mistakes are painful, but they are great opportunities to learn. So let’s reiterate the most important points:

  • Choose the right lock.
  • Always lock your bike to a solid object.
  • Choose areas with good lighting and lots of people.
  • Lock the frame, rear, and front wheel.
  • Wrap the lock tightly around your bike.
  • Keep the lock off the ground and turn the keyhole down.

And guys, one more thing, remember to share this information with others to save as many bikes as possible!

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