How to deter bike theft
Avoid leaving your bike in high-risk areas
Some of the worst places to leave your bike are uni campuses, train stations, and inner-city streets. That said, thefts from apartment buildings and car parks are also rapidly increasing.
“Bike thefts occur when riders don't lock their bike up properly in a secure setting. If someone with sticky fingers sees an easy score, they’ll nab it,” said Bicycle Network Research and Policy Advisor Nicholas Hunter. “Ideally, places like schools, public transport hubs, workplaces and shopping centres should all have dedicated bike lock-ups, while bike hoops on the street should be placed in highly visible places with lots of foot traffic.”
If you need to lock up your bike in these areas, join a secure bike parking facility like Parkiteer or hire a bike cage at your uni campus or workplace. If these options aren’t available, try to park in a busy and well-lit area covered by CCTV. Don’t ever leave your bike unlocked and unattended, even if you only intend to be away for a minute.
Take extra precautions with your bike
When you purchase a new bike, take photographs and record its make, model, year, colour and serial number so that you can easily identify it.
Even if your bike is parked in a secure facility, you should remove any valuable components such as lights, bike computers, panniers and sensors from your bike and bring them with you.
You can also consider purchasing:
Security bolts – to replace the quick-release mechanisms on your seat and wheels to prevent thieves from bike stripping.
A bike alarm – to scare off a thief and/or alert your smartphone when your bike is jostled.
A bike identification kit – to make it almost impossible for thieves to de-identify your bike, so it’s easier to find and get back.
A covert GPS tracker – to alert you when your bike is moved and show you exactly where your bike is taken.
Remember to always lock up your bike, even if it’s parked in your garage or on your balcony. If you use Strava or another ride recording app, revise your privacy settings so that you aren’t highlighting your bike’s model and address for thieves to target.
Prepare for potential bike theft
If the worst happens and your bike is stolen:
Report bike theft immediately to police, either online, in person at your local police station, or by calling the Police Assistance Line (131 444)
Register your stolen bike on BikeVAULT, which works to recover stolen bicycles
Search for your bike on resale websites like Gumtree, eBay and Facebook Marketplace: odds are the thief will quickly try to sell your bike.
Be prepared that you might not get your bike returned. “Since bikes can be quickly dismantled and easily sold to a big second-hand market, recovering stolen bikes and catching bike thieves is difficult,” explained Hunter.