It can be useful to pay extra attention to securing your bicycle, because your bicycle will not be stolen if your bicycle is more difficult to steal than the bicycle next to it. So spend some time and money on bike locks and learn what the best options are if your bike is stolen.
Part 1 of 5: Securing your bike securely
Step 1. Remove the front wheel
If you have a bike with dropouts, you need to take your front wheel out and put it next to the rear wheel so you can lock that wheel too.
If you can't remove your front wheel and you only have one chain or shackle lock (so no ring lock on your rear wheel), use your lock to secure the rear wheel and read on for alternatives
Step 2. Secure your wheels and frame to an object that cannot be moved
Attach the back of your bike to another object. Put the bracket or chain through your rear wheel, through the loose front wheel, through the frame, behind the object and then fasten the lock.
- Read the next section for advice on choosing a lock and an object that can't move.
- If your shackle or chain lock isn't big enough, put it through the rear triangle of the frame. That way the frame cannot be removed from the wheel. That is usually enough to deter a thief, because now he has to damage the rear wheel in order to take the bike.
- Insert a U-lock not through the top bar of the frame. That is the bar that runs from the saddle to the handlebars. That way, a thief can use the frame as leverage to break the lock.
Step 3. Secure the front wheel (if it cannot be removed)
The front wheel is less valuable than the rear wheel, but it is still advisable to secure the wheel as it is very easy to remove the wheel with a wrench.
- If you have a ring lock on your rear wheel and a second chain or shackle lock, secure the frame and front wheel with this second lock.
- In some places, for example in many large cities, one lock is really not enough to secure your bike. Without a second lock, your bike will certainly be stolen.
Step 4. Remove or secure any accessories from your bike
Remove panniers, lights and bicycle baskets and other loose items or secure them with an extra lock.
Step 5. Secure your saddle with a long cable
If you have a saddle that is easy to remove, it is also better to secure it properly. Use a cable lock to secure the saddle to the frame.
Part 2 of 5: Using good locks
Step 1. Invest in good locks
Cheap locks can be opened easily, thieves know exactly which locks that are. Go to a bike shop and get advice. Invest in a good lock, you won't regret it.
Step 2. Use two or more locks
A frame-mounted frame lock on your rear wheel is a good start, but it's best to use at least two good quality locks of different types to deter thieves. A thief usually carries tools for one type of lock and often doesn't feel like trying to open two locks.
Step 3. Buy a small hardened steel shackle lock
With a U-lock you can secure your bicycle to a post or bicycle rack. The smaller the shackle, the harder it is for the thief to break the lock.
- Choose a size that is just large enough to secure your rear wheel and frame to a post.
- The space within the bracket should be as small as possible, but the material of the bracket should be thick and strong.
Step 4. Consider a hardened steel chain
In many large cities you often see bicycles with chain locks that are normally used for motorcycles. A chain with thick hardened steel links will certainly deter a thief, and there is often a nylon sock around the links so that your bike doesn't get damaged. The disadvantage of this type of lock is the weight.
- The chain is fastened with a lock, which is often the weakest link. Always use a good quality thick lock.
- If you opt for a chain, a chain that is long enough to secure one wheel to an object, in combination with a lock for your other wheel and your frame, is sufficient. Longer chains are often unnecessarily heavy.
Step 5. Use cable locks only as an extra lock
You can buy cable locks that are very good, but it is still wise to only use a cable lock in combination with another lock.
Cable locks can be useful for securing loose parts, such as a bicycle basket
Part 3 of 5: Choosing a place to lock your bike
Step 1. Know what neighborhood you are in
Be wary if you are in a place where a lot of bicycles are stolen. Bicycle shops and police stations can tell you exactly where many bicycles are stolen.
Step 2. Do not lock your bike in a place where many people hang out
People hanging around can steal your bike themselves or they can tip bike thieves.
Step 3. Watch out for train stations
Thieves know exactly where people leave their bicycles all day, they know that they have a lot of time to open a bicycle lock.
Step 4. Place your bike in a well lit area where many people walk
The more pedestrians, the better, because then it is more difficult for a thief to quietly break a lock.
If possible, put your bike within sight of a security camera. Thieves often know exactly where cameras are located, and if your bike does get stolen, the footage may be used to catch the thief
Step 5. Find a good object to secure your bike to
Don't just assume that every object is a good choice. When securing your bike, choose an object with the following characteristics:
- thick and hard. Do not use a wooden fence or thin metal bar as they can be cut.
- Difficult to disassemble. If a metal rack is attached with bolts, it can easily be taken apart by a thief.
- Firmly anchored to the ground. A strong thief or group of thieves can move a heavy object with the bicycle still attached. Shake a post before securing your bike to it to test its strength.
- Impossible to lift the bike off. A tall thief could lift your bike so that the lock slides over the top of the object. He can then remove the lock at his leisure at home. Use an object anchored in the ground in two places, as a thief could even use a rope to lift your bike over a relatively tall object.
Step 6. Secure your bike between other bikes, if possible
A bike that is attached to the side of a bike rack is easiest to work on quietly, and this bike stands out the most.
Be careful not to accidentally lock your bike to someone else's bike
Part 4 of 5: Deter thieves and prepare for theft
Step 1. Replace any quick releases for a safer option
Many sporty bikes have the ability to quickly remove wheels and saddle. Many thieves happily take only the wheels and saddle, or a bicycle without a front wheel if you forgot to secure the frame.
- There are also quick releases that can be locked. In any case, replace the quick-releases as soon as possible for a safer option.
- A regular nut or allen nut can also be removed quite easily, but it discourages easygoing thieves.
- Never leave tools with a bicycle.
Step 2. Secure your saddle in other ways
If you want to secure your saddle extra, you can secure your saddle to your frame with a chain:
- Get a chain with a stocking around it so you don't damage your bike.
- First put the chain around the horizontal bar at your chain guard. Then put the chain through the metal bars at the bottom of your saddle. Secure the chain with a padlock or similar.
Step 3. Put an engraving code on your bike
With an engraving device, a unique code can be engraved into the frame, increasing the chance that you will ever see your stolen bike again. Call your municipality and ask about the possibilities. In Amsterdam, for example, the police are at a location in the city every week to provide bicycles with an engraving code for free.
Bring a valid ID with you when you have your bike engraved. You need that to have the bike registered in your name
Step 4. Make your bike look less beautiful
In a city it can be a good idea to make your bike as unattractive as possible. For example, wrap easily removable electrical tape around the frame and handles (it looks like the bike is damaged under the tape).
Take an expensive saddle inside instead of leaving it on your bike. You can also replace the saddle with an unattractive cheap saddle
Step 5. Provide proof of ownership
An easy way to do that is to take a picture of yourself riding the bike, showing a piece of paper with the bike's serial number on it.
Most serial numbers are on the frame near the pedals. Other common spots are the handlebars and horizontal bars near the rear wheel. Check with a bike shop if you can't find the serial number
Step 6. Register your bike
There are various websites where you can register your bicycle, such as Fietsenregister.nl. Newer bicycles often have a chip built-in with data about the bicycle. This chip can be read with a special device.
Step 7. Mount a GPS tracker to your bike
With bikes that are very expensive or that you are very attached to, you can spend extra money to buy a GPS tracker. This allows you to keep an eye on the location of the bike if it is stolen.
Part 5 of 5: Getting a stolen bike back
Step 1. File a report immediately
Have the serial number or registration code ready. You can file a report online or visit the police station.
Tell the police about any GPS tracker installed
Step 2. Register your bicycle with a register of stolen bicycles
By reporting this to the police, your bicycle is automatically included in the bicycle theft register.
Step 3. Notify everyone
Let your friends know that your bike has been stolen, post it on social media and tell people who often visit the place where the bike was stolen (e.g. employees at the store where you locked your bike). The more people know about the theft, the greater the chance that you will ever see your bike again.
Provide your contact information and a detailed description of your bike
Step 4. Hang notes on lampposts stating that your bike has been stolen
If you get a tip from someone, pass it on to the police immediately.
Step 5. Ask for security camera recordings
Go to the place where your bike was stolen and look around for cameras. If so, ask the administrator of the camera if you or the police can view the recordings.
Step 6. Check online whether your bicycle is for sale
For example, thieves can use Marktplaats to sell a stolen bicycle. Do a regular search with the brand and type of bicycle and see if your bicycle is listed. If so, notify the police and the website administrator.
On Marktplaats you can set that you will receive an e-mail the moment something new is posted on the site that meets your search criteria. Check the Marktplaats website for further instructions
Step 7. Go to places where used bicycles are sold
Find out where in your municipality second-hand bicycles are sold and look there. Always check whether a bicycle really belongs to you and inform the police if necessary.
Step 8. Notify your insurance company
Contents insurance usually only covers theft of a bicycle from your house or shed, but if you have taken out special bicycle insurance, you must inform your insurance company as soon as possible.
If you used an expensive lock, check with the manufacturer to see if they have an anti-theft guarantee
Step 9. Never take the risk of reclaiming a recovered bicycle yourself
Once you have found your bike, call the police and give them the information.
- Make it difficult for the thief. If it seems difficult to steal your bike, they will look further.
- Good brands of locks include AXA and Abus.
- When you go inside somewhere, for example to eat, put your bike in sight.
- Remove all loose accessories.
- Make a wall anchor on the outside wall of your house so that you can secure your bicycle.
- Check whether the municipality has clipped your bicycle. In Amsterdam, for example, all bicycles removed by the municipality are stored in a central bicycle depot.
- Remove all things that can be easily removed from the bike when you are not around.
- Do not let the lock rest on the floor. Then the lock can easily be broken open with a hammer.
- Do not lock your bicycle in a place where it is not allowed. The municipality can then release your bicycle and take it with you.
- Some insurers require the use of a certain type of lock, in other cases they do not pay out. Check whether your lock meets the requirements.