Basic Advice and Tips on How to Prevent Bike Theft

Bicycle theft is a constant problem here in Pacific Beach, and in most major cities and cycling communities around the world. Here at Bike Garage, we talk to customers and neighbors every day who have been victims of bike theft and try to offer the best possible advice on how to prevent bike theft. There are many ways to reduce your risk of having your bike stolen – from simple methods like using a high-quality lock and not leaving your bike outside overnight, to more expensive solutions like installing a GPS tracker or alarm system. Some people even resort to creative methods like “uglifying” their bikes to make them less attractive to potential thieves.

As we care about the safety of your bikes, we are here to provide you with some good basic advice on how to prevent bike theft, courtesy of from the San Diego Police Department.

How to Prevent Bike Theft

Make It Hard To Steal –
It has been found that in the vast majority of bicycle thefts, bicycles were either unlocked, improperly locked, or locked with inadequate locking devices such as lightweight cables or chains or low-quality U-lock devices.

You should always carry a secure lock whenever you plan to leave your bicycle unattended. The U-locks have proven to be most effective, but like all locks they can be defeated. Use a high-end U-lock to reduce the chances of your lock being defeated. You should always exercise care in where and how you lock your bike.

Always lock your bicycle through its frame and both wheels to an approved bicycle parking rack, preferably one with a thick frame. Lock all free parts of the bicycle as well or take them with you. If you lock only the front wheel to the bike lock you may return to find your bike gone and only that wheel remaining.

Leave your bicycle in a visible, well lit area and if possible avoid leaving your bike locked overnight.

If you have a quick release seat post, take your seat with you. Mark your seat post’s insert point with reflective tape to replace it back on the bike, this ensure the seat will be at the correct height and adds to your night time safety.

Document Your Bike (It’s free and easy) –
The police department encourages you to take a photograph of your bike and of the serial number with your cell phone. This will help with the identification of your bike should your bike get stolen and is extremely helpful for when you file a stolen bike report.

In addition, any personalization on your bike (stickers, markings, etc.) should be documented and kept in case your bike is stolen. This will make it easier for police to identify. All of this information should be stored and saved along with purchase receipts, manufacturer’s information, and a photograph of the bicycle.

Reporting Theft –
If your bicycle is stolen you should report the crime immediately to the San Diego Police Department. Providing the police with descriptive information such as the serial number and photograph increases the chance of recovery. You may file your crime report online at the San Diego Police Departments public website.

To report the theft of a bicycle contact SDPD at 619-531-2000 and file the report online.

What You Should Do –
If you believe that your bike has been stolen or impounded, you should contact the SD Police Department at 619-531-2000.

If you happen to witness a bike theft, either by force or stealth, dial 911 immediately and inform the dispatcher where you are and what is happening. Try to remember as much as you can about the suspect for police reports.

If you suspect that someone has stolen your bike, do not directly confront them because an incident may occur. Contact San Diego Police and give them as much information as possible. You can never be entirely sure that a suspect has stolen your bike because many bikes look the same and many people have the same bike.

And remember, if you lock your bike tightly and securely with a U-lock, your chances of being the victim of a bike theft will be substantially lower.

What are your favorite methods for protecting your bike? Let us know in the comments below!

Keep pedaling!

The Bike Garage Team