The scene: You leave work, home, the store that you ran into for only a minute. You get outside and see the pole where you locked your bike up and… your heart sinks. Thoughts race: “Is that just my front wheel?” “Wait, is this where I locked it?” “Oh no! Where’s my trusty steed?!?”
But won’t taking action feel a little better? Here is what you need to do in the unfortunate event your bike is stolen.
- Call the police and report it! Make sure to provide them with as much information as possible, including a good photo of your bike, its serial number, any distinctive features, and a receipt or invoice if possible.
- If your bike was insured, contact the insurance company as soon as you can (within 24 hours). Keep in mind that if you carry a renter’s insurance policy, if the bike was parked outside of your apartment it may be covered as well.
- List your bike as stolen on websites like Bike Index and National Bike Registry.
- Check online sites like Craigslist and eBay to see whether your stolen bike has been listed for sale. The listing description will most likely be generic and broad, without much detailed information of your bike’s features. You can also create “alert” searches on these sites to email you daily with listings of products that match your search. If you think you have found your bike, notify the police first before confronting or meeting anyone.
- Shout it out and let people know! Blast it on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, etc. Look at bike theft forums and be sure to visit or call local bike shops, especially those that sell or trade used bikes. Make up posters with the bike’s photo and your contact information and post them in your neighborhood and around town. Both friends and strangers may be able to help you spread the word and the more you do, the more likely that someone will make a connection.
Need transport and prefer pedal power? Borrow a friend’s bike for now. If you do not have access to a spare bike, see if your city has a bike share program. Eventually, see if your local police hold periodic bike auctions. If they recover a bike, yet cannot find the owner, it may be sold at one of these sales.
Documenting ownership of your bike is vitally important, too! Keep a file in paper or electronic form. Take photos of your bike and its serial number and email them to yourself. Most bike manufacturers will have an online registry. The process is usually simple, entering a few pieces of info on a web form. It is crucial for there to be a record of your serial number for law enforcement in the best case scenario of your bike being recovered.
It is not impossible to recover your stolen bike. Taking these steps will increase your chances.