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What To Do If Your Bike Is Stolen

Follow these 6 tips when you notice your bicycle has been stolen

Happy couple with dog sitting in front of their bicycles

Bicycles are stolen in the United States more than many of us realize because plenty of theft goes unreported each year. Cyclists are plagued with bike theft and it’s important to know what to do in case yours is ever stolen. Use the tips below to better understand what to do if your bike is stolen.

What’s in this article:

1. If you’re in immediate physical danger, get to a safe place ASAP

A stolen bicycle situation can be dangerous because not all bikes are stolen in the dead of night or while you’re at work.

Bicycle muggings are, unfortunately, real and they can result in injury. If you happen to be the victim of a bicycle mugging, get to safety as soon as possible — your health is one of the most important things in the world — and notify the policy via the emergency line immediately.

2. If you aren’t in physical danger, notify your local authorities via the non-emergency police line

When your bicycle is stolen, sometimes it can take hours or even days to notice especially if you aren’t a regular rider. As soon as you realize your bicycle is missing, contact your local authorities and use the non-emergency line (this will help keep the emergency lines clear for people who need ambulances, immediate protection, etc.).

Tell the police when you suspect the bicycle was stolen, what it looks like, etc. The more detail you can provide, the better — and this includes your bike’s serial number, too. Ask the police for a copy of the report once the filing is complete.

Many on a bike fishing trip

3. Take notes and get documentation

Get pictures of where your bicycle was stolen from and any evidence that supports your case. For example, if the thief left behind a broken lock, take a photo. If there is broken glass indicating a break-in, take a photo of that also.

Collect as much information about the situation as you can and find documentation (like receipts) for anything that was stolen including your:

  • Bicycle
  • Helmet
  • Riding gear and tech
  • Spare parts
  • Locks
  • Etc.

As well, write down a statement of the event with as much detail as possible. The sooner you write up your statement, the more you’re likely to remember.

4. Let your bicycle insurance company know

Hopefully, you’ve signed up for a bicycle insurance policy to cover the costs of a stolen bicycle (in case you don’t get it back). Additionally, your bike insurance company may provide reimbursement for a temporary bicycle rental in the meantime. Reach out to make a claim which is when the following comes in handy:

  • Your police report
  • Your statement
  • Documentation for everything that was stolen

Your bicycle insurance company will take care of the rest while you do the following.

5. Notify your cycling community

Hopefully, you’ve also signed up for a bicycle registry online, with your college campus, or even with your local government. Bicycle registries let cyclists register their serial numbers so in case the bike goes missing, they can get the word out. Bicycle shops and police stations can check online registries in case they come across your stolen bicycle, and return it.

Also, plenty of bicycle buyers check serial numbers in online registry databases to make sure they themselves aren’t purchasing stolen goods. We recommend using this registry or this registry to get started if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’ve notified your bicycle registries, blast it on social media. Let your family, coworkers, and friends know about the theft so they can keep their eyes peeled. The more people who know, the more people who are looking out for your stolen bicycle.

Man sitting on bicycle by the water

6. Check online posts and ads for used bicycle sales

Thieves use Craigslist and other online platforms to sell stolen bicycles quickly and with minimal trace — sometimes they’ll even try selling them to a bike shop. Check all your local used bike listings to see if you recognize any of them as your own. There’s a chance you’ll find it and can either contact the shop, the new buyer, or even help the police track down the thief.

Let the authorities know that you’ve possibly found the thief (or at least, your stolen bicycle) to make sure you stay safe in case there’s a confrontation.

Helpful Bicycle Insurance & Theft Resources

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