Cyclescheme How to: Prevent bike theft

Cyclescheme, 25.02.2016

Cyclescheme How to: Prevent bike theft

Over 6,700 bikes were reported stolen in Ireland in 2014. To protect your commuter bike, you'll need locks and tactics.

Bike theft is a kick in the teeth, robbing you of your transport and of any future salary sacrifice payments. It's not just bad luck, however as there's lots you can do to limit your exposure to theft. While a thief with enough time and tools can break any lock, a good lock is still an excellent deterrent. 

The risk of bike theft is related to where you live.  Risk is also related to where the bike is parked.   Bikes are most likely to be stolen during the day in public places and overnight from residential locations.   Interestingly the peak months for bike thefts are: July, August, September and October.

In sight or indoors

The simplest solution to bike security is to keep your bike in sight or behind a locked door. That way a bike lock is optional. At home, the bike lives in your house – on a wall-mounted rack, perhaps, or a telescopic bike stand that fits between floor and ceiling. At work, your employer provides a lockable bike store. If your partner, landlord or employer isn't keen on you wheeling your bike over the threshold, a compact folding bike is a solution.  Bag it if there's still some resistance.

Home security

Since most bikes are stolen from the owner's property but not from the home itself, any bike that doesn't live under your roof must be secure. A padlock on a wooden shed or a lockable up-and-over garage door isn't enough. Buy the best ground anchor you can afford (Abus, Squire and Pragmasis all do good ones) and fix it into a concrete floor or, if that's not feasible, a brick wall. Attach your bike to this through the frame with a thick, hardened-steel chain (Abus, Almax, Pragmasis, Squire, etc). You won't carry this chain on the bike, so weight doesn't matter. If you can't afford a security chain – remember: you can include locks in your Cyclescheme package - attach your bike to the ground/wall anchor with your D-lock, assuming it will reach.

Portable Locks

There's a strong correlation between how tough a lock is and how heavy it is. While any lock is better than no lock, cables aren't up to the job for commuting where your bike is parked for extended periods. At the other extreme, chains that are thick enough to resist bolt-cropping – look for a Sold Secure Gold rating – are very heavy. A D-lock or U-lock is the best compromise between security and portability. Shorter ones are lighter and are harder to fit a jack into, but longer ones are easier to fix to street furniture. Again, look for a Sold Secure Gold rating.  An Garda Síochána recommend you spend at least  10 –20% of the cost of your bike on a D Lock and Cable Lock so factor this in when getting your quote for your  Cycle to Work application.  It is also worth using two different types of lock, such as a chain or folding lock plus a D-lock. That way, a thief will need more tools and time.

How to lock your bike

Lock your bike in highly visible place rather than down an alley. Lock it whenever it's out of your sight or further away than you can run in two or three seconds. That's all it takes for a thief to jump on it and ride off.  Lock tight through the frame to an immovable object (keep the lock off the ground) – and not one a thief could lift your bike over or easily cut the top off. If your lock is big enough, fit the frame and the wheel that's easiest to remove in the shackle. Lock either the down tube and front wheel or the seat tube/seatstay/chainstay and rear wheel. A second lock enables you to secure the other end. Some cyclists use one lock and remove the front wheel so they can get both wheels and the frame in one shackle, but that's a faff for daily commuting and makes your hands dirty.

Fasten shackle locks low down to limit leverage with pry bars and aim to fill the shackle with bike/cycle stand/street furniture so a jack won't fit. Wrap chains so they're taut. It makes it harder to use bolt croppers. 

Protecting different bike parts

Any component with a quick release lever can be removed in seconds. At the least, use Allen bolts instead. Seat collars and wheel skewers with these are inexpensive. The next step is to use security skewers, which require a special key. These are available for wheels, seat collar, stem top cap (to prevent fork theft). Accessories that clip off your bike, such as battery lights, pump, and computer must go with you when your park your bike in public. 

If your bike is stolen

Stolen bikes are sometimes recovered by the Gardai.  Always report stolen property to An Garda Síochána.  To help get yours back, you'll need to have reported it missing and prove ownership.  When you get your bike (or if you haven’t done so already) ,ake a note of your bike's serial/frame  number and take a clear date stamped  photograph then keep it in a place where it can be easily retrieved if necessary also write your name in indelible ink on the rim strips.

Cycle insurance is essential. Check household policies with care: bikes may be covered only up to a certain value or in certain locations. A dedicated cycle policy may be a better bet. 

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