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How to: Recovering your stolen bike

Image from WorldsBestBikeStickers.com

I’ve created a page — which you can find in the top bar of the site — that has tips about what do if your bike is stolen in Tucson. The contents of the page are below. Do you have any additional tips that I should add?

Bike thieves stink and Tucson has its share of them. According to the Tucson Police Department, more than 600 bikes were reported stolen in 2009.

If your bike is stolen, here are some steps you can take to try and recover it.

The best thing you can do is to prevent your bike from getting stolen in the first place. Check out this article for great tips about keeping your bike secure:

  1. Always lock your bike: even in the garage, the apartment stairwell, or college dorm.
  2. Lock to a fixed, immovable object like a parking meter or permanent bike rack. Be careful not to lock to items that can be easily cut, broken or removed. Be careful that your bike cannot be lifted over the top of the object to which it is locked.
  3. Lock in a visible and well-lit area.
  4. Lock in a location where there are other bikes. The chances are better that there will be a bike with a less secure lock than yours. Thieves will usually go for the easiest target.
  5. When using a U-lock, position your bike frame and wheels so that you fill or take up as much of the open space within the U-portion of the lock as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it is for a thief to use tools to attack your lock.
  6. Always position a U-lock so that the keyway is facing down towards the ground. Don’t position the lock close to the ground. This makes it easier for a thief to attack it.
  7. Always secure your components and accessories, especially quick-release components, with a secondary cable lock.
  8. Don’t lock your bike to itself (i.e. put the lock through the wheel and frame only). Lock it to something. Otherwise, it can be easily lifted and carried away.
  9. Don’t lock in the same location all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and target your bike.
  10. Don’t lock to anything posted illegal. Check with area law enforcement agencies for local bike parking regulations.
  11. Always check your lock before leaving your bike to be sure you have secured it properly.
  12. For the greatest theft deterrence, use two locks such as a U-lock and a locking cable. The longer it takes a thief to get through your bike security, the less likely your bike will be stolen.
  13. These last two are from me. Never lock your bike at a Marta station. Take it with you on the train.
  14. Register your bike. Check out The National Bike Registry

If your bike is stolen here in Tucson, here are steps to follow to give yourself a shot at getting it back.

1. Add your bike to www.stolenbicycleregistry.com. It works best if you have your serial number, so be sure to write it down when you get your bike. Some local shops will keep a record of the serial number for you. Check with the shop where you bought your bike to see if they have a record of it.

2. Post a photo and description of your bike on Craigslist in Tucson and Phoenix.

3. Send the same info to me at tucsonvelo@gmail.com and I’ll post it on the site.

4. Print flyers about the stolen bike and take them to local bike shops and BICAS.

5. Check local pawn shops to see if your bike shows up there.

6. Watch the Phoenix and Tucson Craigslist postings. Many Tucson bikes are taken to Phoenix where it is easier to sell them without being caught.

Check out this example of how a Tucsonan got his bike back by following many of the same steps.

Do you have any other tips that should be added? Leave a comment below.

6 comments
LockUp
LockUp

U lock. It would be wise to use both though. Wheels are also targeted. If you have quick releases and do not have a cable running through the wheels, they can easily be taken within 5 seconds. Front or rear it doesn't matter. Having a rear derailer does NOT affect how easy the wheel can be detached. I would get a ulock ( key ) have it run through your frame and rear tire and have a cable run to your front tire and around your ulock. If you have 10$ you can get a cheap cable to keep wrapped around your saddle. Remember NOTHING will stop bike thieves, all we can do is slow them down.

tucsonvelo
tucsonvelo

Thanks for the additional tips, Tom. I agree with Scott about the cable locks. I actually use both. I wrap a thick cable lock around my rear wheel, through my seat and then through the front wheel and then lock it using a strong u-lock which goes around the frame. I've heard that long u-locks are bad because it gives thieves more options when they are trying to pry it open.

Scott
Scott

Carolyn, everybody I know that has had a bike stolen (including myself) had been using a cable lock. I now consider cable useful only for securing quick-release bits like seat or front wheel.

Tom Thivener
Tom Thivener

Tucson Police have recommended in the past to fill out an on-line Police Report. There is a check box for bike theft. http://tpdinternet.tucsonaz.gov/Reporting/ When they recover bikes, which they do find hundreds every year, they will compare the serial numbers on the bikes to their database. If they have a match, you can get your bike back. If they don't have a match after a few months of no one claiming the recovered bikes, the bikes go to auction.http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/all,az/browse/...

Carolyn
Carolyn

I'm looking to buy some kind of locking device for my commuter. What are your suggestions? Cable or U-bolt? Combination or key? Realistically, I can't (won't) use two devices.

Mowglicorrea
Mowglicorrea

Thank you for taking the time to do this. It is a really helpful resource and it was nice that you took your own time to put this together.