A stolen bicycle sucks. Nothing compares to the brutal feeling of having something stolen from you, especially if it is something as beloved and useful as a bicycle. Too often, the Bicycle Coalition hears stories of bicycles being stolen from backyards, garages, and public racks.
Earlier this year our Executive Director’s bicycle got stolen and through the magic of social media, craigslist, and constant communication with the police department, it was found and returned to him in a few weeks! While the recovery rate is traditionally low, there are a few steps you can take to make it easier to get it back into your loving arms.
Register Your Bicycle
- Registering your bike won’t keep it from being stolen, but it greatly aids in its return to you if it is recovered by the police. The police will not give you back your bike unless they have proof that it belongs to you, so a serial number and photo are essential.
- The SLOPD just launched an online bicycle registration system for residents, which we encourage you to do here.
- If you are a Cal Poly student, UPD has an online bicycle registration system for students.
- If you do not live in San Luis Obispo there are still a few simple steps to take, as illustrated below.
- Lock your bike – it’s the easiest way to deter a thief!
How to Document Your Bicycle
- Download & fill-out our “Freezer Form” and keep the information yourself.
- Take a photo and type in your serial number and email it to yourself. That way, it’s stored in your email inbox forever.
- Use the National Bike Registry for a fee.
- Whether you are a renter or homeowner, many insurance plans cover the loss of a bicycle — anywhere in the city. Check in with your Insurance provider to see if your bike is covered.
- Follow our 2011 Bike Hack trick to help provide proof that it is your bicycle.
By keeping your serial number and photo handy, you can easily file a police report — or prove the bike is yours if you find it for sale somewhere.
What to Do if Your Bike Has Been Stolen
- Find your serial number and photo of the bike (as mentioned above)
- Look to see if there was a camera nearby. If so, contact the building owner to see if they can provide you with footage, to help identify the thief.
- File a police report with the local police department.
- Post the theft as STOLEN: on craigslist. The craigslist community is amazing, do not underestimate them!
- Social media is your friend in this instance, the more you share, the more eyes are on the ground to help recover your beloved bicycle.
- Come to our Bike Kitchen and provide a brief description of your bicycle. We do our best to make sure the bikes that come through our doors are not stolen and can notify you if we see them in here.
- File a claim with your insurance company, if you are covered. Call your agent to see if you will need a police report and coordinate as appropriate.
- Check out the local Flea Markets. Some people have reported finding their bike at various local markets. If you do spot your bike, call the local police immediately and ask them to assist in your recovery. They can find your police report once they begin the investigation. Do not approach or confront the seller for your own safety.