Everyone has a story about a stolen bike: theirs or their friend’s or a family member’s. Many people are apathetic about it (in spite of being angry on the inside), saying there is nothing to do when you live in a place like Oxford where over 2000 bikes are stolen each year.
Our Beryls’ Night session on September 4th was about taking back control from the hands of thieves. We focused on prevention: making your bike less attractive, knowing good locking techniques, and (if the worst happens and your bike is stolen) working with the police. Here are the highlights of the session:
- 50% of people don’t lock their bike correctly.
- Invest in a high quality D-lock. You should spend at least 10% of what your bike is worth on a lock. Cable locks can be cut in a matter of seconds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YO1BMHZSDk) and should only be used as a secondary lock to secure a wheel.
- Secure your bike in a public place during the day, and out of sight at night.
- Always lock your bike to a solid object and never to itself.
- Secure your lock high off the ground so that the ground can’t be used as a platform to smash the lock or to lean weight onto when using a tool.
- Fill your lock: When using cable or D-lock, try to ‘fill’ the lock with as much of your frame and/or wheel as possible so that it harder to fit a tool, like cable cutters or a jack, inside to break it open.
- Apply the bear principle: “When being chased by a bear, you don’t need to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend.” Meaning, lock your bike near a more attractive and less well-locked bike. The thief will usually go for the easy target over yours.
- Replace all quick-release parts (seat post, wheels) on your bike with allan-key or nut and bolts. It won’t stop every thief, but if they have a choice between your wheel, that is secured with a cable lock, and the allan key release, and the one next to yours with the quick release and no lock, I can bet which one they will take.
- Need a laugh? Check out this video of lock grading in New York:
Local Police Programs
Oxford has some pretty good programmes for registering your bike. No, it won’t prevent it from being stolen, but having unique, non-removable identifiers on your bike, and having it visibly registered with the police is a deterrent. Programess are regularly run on Broad Street on weekends and include:
- Frame etching (usually your postal code and house number).
- Ultra-violet marking: a tag that can be seen if the a special light is run over the bike.
- Registering your serial number in a national database so that if your bike is stolen and turns up, either in a raid or abandoned, it can be returned to you.
Many insurance programs will include bikes automatically. Call and see what is covered and whether you need to add it, and to find out any special conditions. Alternatively, there are many reasonably-priced private bike insurance plans available.
Capture your info!!!
Lastly, we encourage you to WRITE IT DOWN. Use the ‘freezer sheet’ below to write down your serial number, bike make and model, and any distinguishing features NOW before you need it. Take a picture too. Then, if something happens, you can give this sheet to the police and if your bike turns up, it will make claiming it so much easier.