Preventing theft

With the dramatic increase in cycling across London over the past few years, so has the theft of bicycles, accessories and bicycle parts become an increasing problem. 1,632 bikes stolen in Islington in 2010.


How to lock your bike

1. Ideally, use TWO secure-rated locks for maximum security
2. Lock both wheels and the frame (or wheel and frame with one lock)
3. Always lock the frame to a solid object such as a bike stand
4. Two types of lock (chain/cable and D-lock) are harder to break
5. Remove all your bike accessories every time you leave it unattended

1. Don’t leave your bike locked in a secluded location
2. Don’t lock it so it can be lifted over a post (signs can be unscrewed)
3. Don’t let your lock lie on or near the ground as it can be smashed
4. Don’t leave space inside a D-lock where tools can be inserted

(from the LCC website)

Ask your employer to install secure bike parking, where you can leave your bike without worrying.

The better the lock, the more expensive and heavy it will be – there’s no getting around that. Never use a cheap cable lock on any bike – don’t forget that thieves do it for a living. They can produce a pair of extendible boltcrops from under their clothing and cut through a cheap lock, padlock, chain or cable lock in one second – literally.

Also be aware that a lot of thieves steal components, such as saddles and seatposts, or wheels. It is not recommended to use quick-release levers on seatposts on your bike in London. If you use quick-release wheels always lock both wheels to the frame or stand even if you’ll “only be away for a minute”.

With a bit of experience in London, you’ll develop an instinct where it’s fairly safe to leave your bike and where it isn’t.

Don’t think that having a cheap, old bike or disguising your nice bike with paint or tape will prevent it from being being stolen. Bike thieves are not necessarily intelligent and will often take anything opportunistically.

Thieves’ activity is often very recognisable to people living near them, e.g. bikes going in and out of the house all the time. Do report this if you can.


When you get a new bike

  • Insure your bike.  You can usually add it to home contents insurance very cheaply
  • Take colour photos, note the frame numbers and make a written record of the bike’s description, including any unique features, so that you can report it accurately if stolen. Having these to hand is absolutely key for you to have any chance of getting your bike back. If the police do recover a stolen bike (and it hasn’t been resprayed etc.) then a photo of you with the bike will help you prove it’s yours. The same goes for frame numbers. You could even take a photo of your frame number next to your face by standing the bike up on one wheel.  Frame numbers are often on the bottom bracket shell (between your cranks on the underside of your bike, so you may have to turn it upside down to see it, and are sometimes obscured by gear cable routers (bits stuck on the BB shell)), but on some bikes they are elsewhere, especially on some older bikes. Don’t give up searching for it too easily! Every bike should have a number (if it hasn’t been filed off by previous thieves).
  • Register your bike on the Bike Register database. This could help the police in case they find your bike and need to return it to you. It is often impossible to return such bikes without this information being available to them. The police run regular bike marking sessions around London and it is there that you can have your bikes registered free. You can also register your bike (and other items) on the Immobilise website which is free.

For further information, call 020 7527 4082 or email, Cycling Officer

More comprehensive advice and videos from London Cycling Campaign:

Cycle security: lock it or lose it

Security Marking and Police Tagging for Bikes