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What to Do if Your Bike Gets Stolen (8 Tips)

Hey, it happens to everyone. So, what now?

It’s awful to think about your bike being stolen. It’s always disheartening to have something taken from you. But if you’re reading this, it probably happened to you. Were sorry to hear that. So, now what? What do you do if your bike gets stolen?

If your bike gets stolen, stay calm. Alert the police, social media, bike theft register, and local bike shops. For your safety, never try to confront the bike thefts yourself.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you’ll learn what to do if you’re the victim of bike theft.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on October 10, 2021, to include additional information regarding cycling theft.

How common is bike theft?

If you’re the victim of bike theft, you’re not alone. According to the Marcel insurance company, 188,500 bicycle thefts are reported stolen each year in the United States. Suffice to say that bike theft is extremely common. But there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent bike theft. Check out our full guide on how not to get your (next) bike stolen.

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What should I do if I see someone riding my stolen bike?

As much as I want you to get your bike back, I don’t recommend confronting them. It may be tempting, but you risk serious harm. Whoever stole your bike clearly does not care for the law. Remember that criminals are more desperate in law-biting citizens. And desperate people do desperate, sometimes violent things. If you try to corner your bike thief, they may retaliate with violence.

Also, consider that person riding the bike may not even be the person who stole your bike. They may be just as innocent as you and intentionally purchased a stolen bike. You wouldn’t want to go guns blazing on them now, would you?

If it were me, I’d grab my smartphone and film them riding my bike, which would get a full profile on how they look. Of course, I’d be very discrete, and I wouldn’t make it obvious. The whole point is to grab more evidence for my case.

I would also tail them by foot, or on a scooter, whatever, with the police on the phone. Hopefully, they will be able to intercept them.

But hey! I am not a lawyer or a police officer. And I’m not saying you should do that. I’m just saying that that’s what I would do in the situation.

Ok. Now, on to what you should do if your bike is stolen.

1. Call the police

The first and most obvious thing you should do is call the police. Now, of course, this completely depends on your relationship with local law enforcement.

But don’t get your hopes too high. In most cases, there’s not much they can do. The fact is that most bikes that are reported to the police are never found. At best, they can look around the area to see if they spot your ride. But hey, that’s better than nothing. And who knows. They might just finish taking a report with you, go back into their cruiser, and happen to see the bike a few blocks away. In that case, you might get your bike back.

If there’s ever an event where the thief is arrested with the bike. They might just run the bike’s serial number, and there’s a chance they will contact you.

Additionally, to claim theft protection and other items from the company you purchased your bike from, you must sometimes file a police report within 24 hours of the theft.

So regardless of your relationship with the police. Consider getting them involved.

2. Alert social media networks to the theft

Ask your friends to share your post far and wide. You never know who they know and which of their friends will share your post either. With any luck, it can help you get your bike back. At the very least, it can help prevent someone from buying stolen goods. It’s also possible someone could see a listing for your bike or see someone trying to sell your bike at a yard sale or flea market and alert you to its location.

3. List your bike as stolen

Some bike registration websites allow registrants to flag a bike as stolen. If a person is checking the records of a bike they are attempting to buy, the registration number will come back flagged for theft. This is most certainly helpful in preventing the sale of a stolen bike; it’s possible it can even help you recover it as well.

New York City Bike Rack With The Remnants Of A Stolen Bike
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New York City bike rack with the remnants of a stolen bike.

4. Check common use goods sites

While eBay is a less likely place for a bike to be resold, it can happen. However, it’s more likely for your bike to show up on local sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Anyone who has stolen property wants to unload it quickly and for cash only. Shipping it on eBay leaves a paper trail.

Check every local online site as well as a local bulletin board. Have your friends keep their eye out for anyone trying to sell a bike that looks like yours. If you find your bike, alert the police and partner with them for the next steps.

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5. Start checking flea markets, yard sales, and pawn shops

As already mentioned, a person with stolen goods wants to get rid of them fast in exchange for cash. Pawnshops provide fast liquidity for thieves. So make sure to check out your local pawn shops.

If there are neighborhood yard sales or flea markets, those also place your bike could be sold for quick cash. Start checking those to see what you find.

6. Contact local bike shops

A person can steal a bike, but It does not always mean they know what to do with it once they have it. If they are unsure about what to do with it, they may visit local bike shops to see if they can sell it bike. If you alert your local bike shops to what has happened, they can let you know if something or someone suspicious recently stopped by to sell them your bike.

Check out this video of a man who found his bike in a bike shop and was able to get it back.

7. Use local bulletin boards to post flyers

While social media has a remarkable reach, not everyone is going to see your posts.

Using traditional flyers can help you get the word out about your missing gear bike. If you have the means to do so, offer a reward for the information or return of your bike. You never know who will see this. It could even alert the thief that you’re on the lookout. Maybe they will opt not to sell and return it to you for a reward?

8. Buy a new bike

According to research on bike theft, 66% of those who have had their bikes stolen reduce their cycling, and 25% of those people stop riding entirely. Don’t let yourself become one of those figures.

It’s time for a new bike if everything else fails and your old one can’t be found. I get how terrible it is to have your bike stolen, but we must not let the criminals win.

Don’t forget to get a top-notch lock for your new bike. Below are some of the best I found on amazon. Remember that you need to lock both wheels and frames for maximum security. Also, check out our roundup for the best bike locks of 2021.

Conclusion

While having your bike stolen is an awful thing to go through, there is some hope you’ll get it back. But even if you don’t, you might just like your next one better. Blessing in disguise, maybe? Ok, maybe that’s a little too optimistic.

In this article, we covered eight to help you get your bike back if it was stolen. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Bike theft is very common.
  • If you see somone rifing yoru biek, dont confront them directly.
  • Get the police involved.
  • Alert social media networks to the theft.
  • List your bike as stolen.
  • Report your stolen bike to the police.
  • Check common use goods sites.
  • Start checking flea markets, yard sales, and pawn shops.
  • Contact local bike shops.
  • Utilize local bulletin boards to post flyers about your bike.
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So, have you ever gotten a bike back after it was stolen? I’d love to know! Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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