Bike Theft Victim Do’s and Don’ts
We hope you never have to deal with having your bike stolen but if you do, here are some tips:
- Report the crime to police either in person, online or via the non-emergency number, obtain a crime reference number and contact your insurer.
- Fire up the 529 Garage, find (or register) your bike then press the alert button. This will activate the 529 community near you to be on the lookout. It’s like neighborhood watch for your bike. You can alert your social networks too, with just a few clicks.
- Use 529 Garage to automatically create posters that you can place around town and to give to local bike shops that sell used bikes.
- Tell your friends and family to register their bikes and to become a part of the 529 community. The more we join together to fight the problem of bike theft, the more successful we’ll be.
- Check online marketplaces like craigslist and eBay for your stolen bike (save your search so you get automatic updates on any new matches). Don’t forget to take an entire screenshot of any suspicious ads – and make sure you capture the URL. Contact the police via their non-emergency number to find out the best way to work with them to retrieve your bike. Different agencies will have different policies, but here’s what Portland Police Department recommends if you find your stolen bike listed for sale: [link to article]
- Report any suspicions about online bike resellers to the site you found them on. To report a problem to eBay, go to the bottom of the listing where you will find a link saying, “Report this item”. That takes you to a form you need to fill in to tell eBay why you are reporting. This includes stolen items, or other suspected fraud. If you have suspicions about a craigslist post, contact them: [link to contact form].
- Recall whether you bought your bike with a credit card that offers purchase protection against theft.
- Write to eBay and craigslist to ask that they help stem the sale of stolen bikes by requiring serial numbers for bike listings.
- Consider writing to your elected officials to inform them of any bike theft issues your community is experiencing and to ask them to take bike theft seriously. Encourage your police department or university to adopt an advanced bike registration, reporting and recovery system like the 529 Garage.
- Keep riding! Some cyclists decide they are defeated and never replace their trusty steed after they’ve been a victim of bike theft. Get a new bike, the best lock you can afford and join efforts to deter bike theft.
- Approach, confront or accuse a suspected thief or attempt to reclaim a stolen bike without the involvement of the police.
- Attempt to stop criminals committing crimes or take the law into your own hands.
- Take unnecessary risks to obtain information on suspicious people or crimes.
- Buy your bike back from an illegitimate seller or thief. Even if you failed to register your bike and cannot prove ownership – always contact the police.
- Be shy about spreading the word about the importance of bike registration and proof of ownership to family and friends. Many people are completely unaware that free bike registration exists.
- Be an easy target. Use a U-lock instead of a cable lock or research other locks rated “highly secure” by independent lock testers. Always park your bike to a secure bike parking structure located in a well-lit, populated area. Never leave your bike unlocked in your garage, bike cage, balcony or on your car (around a quarter of all stolen bikes are taken from these locations).
- Be discouraged from reporting future incidents to police. The general tendency to not report bike theft is part of the reason some police departments cannot take stronger action.
Bike’s Gone and Need Another?
Don’t be part of the problem…avoid buying a stolen bike when shopping used. We hope you get your stolen bike back but if you don’t – and you have decided to shop for a used replacement – keep things legitimate by: searching our registry using the bike’s serial number (we automatically search our partner’s sites as well), searching ad listings for clues: poor quality photos or stock photos, price too good to be true, seller has numerous suspicious bikes for sale or can’t/won’t answer detailed questions/refuses to offer a Bill of Sale/can’t tell you where the bike was purchased/won’t tell you the serial number. Notify police if you think someone is trying to sell you a stolen bike.
Project 529’s vision is to cut the $2 billion bike theft epidemic in North America in half by 2025. The 529 Garage is the world’s largest and fastest-growing bicycle registration system with over 800,000 searchable bikes. The system is a cloud-based service offered to partners in the cycling industry, law enforcement and higher education markets to tackle bicycle theft. It allows cyclists, shops and organizations to register bicycles in less than five minutes. If the bicycle is stolen, the victim can alert the local cycling community and law enforcement with just a few taps from their smartphone. Learn more here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each week 529’s very own Annie Rhyder answers your questions about bike theft and bike security. To get your question featured, drop her a line at: email@example.com.
Cool stories about Project529 in the press