How to protect your bike from theft

man in helmet with hands on head has lost his bike

Alice Piper

Posted February 22, 2022

Bike theft is on the rise in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria – here’s how to keep your bike safe.  
A surge in the popularity of bike riding in Victoria has coincided with an increase in bike theft, with the state's cyclists urged to be vigilant as thefts from homes, workplaces, residential streets and community locations continue to rise.

Data from Bicycle Network reveals that the number of reported bikes stolen increased to 7,385 bikes stolen in 2021, an 82.1 per cent increase from 4,076 bikes stolen in 2011.  
The increase in bike theft comes as interest in cycling has grown rapidly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with cycling levels up 69 per cent nationwide compared to pre-COVID.

Research and Policy Advisor at Bicycle Network, Nicholas Hunter, says a major reason for the increase in bike theft is: “Bike ownership in Victoria is increasing year on year, at a rate much faster than shops can import them.” 

“This is making the second-hand market very lucrative now, both in the city and in regional Victoria, with East Gippsland, Mildura, Wangaratta, and Shepparton areas of concern [for bike theft],” Hunter adds. 
According to Bicycle Network, inner city suburbs in Melbourne including Brunswick, CBD, St Kilda, Carlton and Richmond had the highest level of bike theft across the state. 

Tips to prevent bike theft

Use a solid D-lock / U-lock 

A good quality lock should always be used to secure a bike – both inside the home and in public.

Use a D-lock / U-lock, which is a solid, curved metal lock that provides more security than chain locks, as they can’t be snipped apart with bolt cutters. 

A D-lock / U-lock is also heavier than other types of locks, enabling riders to safely attach bicycles to strong fixtures such as trees and power poles. 

A coiled wire or similar lock is also a good idea to secure the wheels of the bike to the frame, as wheels and tyres are often specifically coveted by thieves. 

"Given their value, wheels (and tyres) can certainly be a target for thieves, so a coil wire lock that is wrapped between a bike’s wheels and the frame can be extremely useful to maximise safety," says Hunter. 

Choose a safe location to park

Your bike parking location can heighten the chance of having your set of wheels stolen.

“Apartments blocks and the parking facilities around them, as well as footpaths and the front of properties, are common targets for thieves,” says Hunter.

Take advantage of indoor workplace bike parking, storage cages at train stations or apartment blocks with bike parking that enable the use of a D-lock / U-lock. 
If you’re forced to park your bike on the street, choose a well-lit area.

Remove all valuables from the bike

When parking, remove all valuable items from the bike. This includes laptops, cameras such as GoPros, bags, pumps, lights and anything else that could make your bike a target for theft. 

man in green shirt fixing bicycle chain

Make your bike identifiable by engraving your licence number on the frame. Image: Getty

Make the bike easily identifiable 

Make your bike unique and easily identifiable so that it can be returned to you if it's recovered.

This should include engraving your name or driver’s licence on the bike frame. Engrave a ‘V’ for Victoria on the bike frame, as this helps police understand that the proceeding numbers belong to a driver’s licence.  

Record key details and photos

Keeping a record of your bike’s details means that if it ever gets stolen, important identifiers can be handed to police for investigation.

Record and photograph the bike’s serial number, make, model, year and colour, and keep this information safe.

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