Someone stealing your bike is heartbreaking and has been the end of more than one commuter cycling career. Bike theft in Metro Vancouver is an ever-growing problem. I've lost three bikes-all locked up in what seemed to be secure locations-in my time as a cyclist here.
Given the cost of the average commuter bike and the standard excess on household content insurance policies (not to mention the loopholes that insurance companies will often try and exploit), recouping the cost of a stolen bike can be an exercise in frustration. But there are ways to beat bike thieves and increase your chances of recovering your costs.
. Note down your bike's serial number in an easy-to-find spot. If you can give this to police when reporting a theft, the chances of getting your bike back if they do locate it increase considerably. Admittedly, it's not all that often police are able to track down stolen bikes, but I know at least one person who successfully recovered her bike (albeit minus one wheel) this way.
. A good lock is one of the most important investments you can make for your bike. It's an additional cost on top of whatever you spent on the bike, but if it keeps your two-wheeler in your possession, it's worth it. Cable locks can be snipped through with a pair of common or garden bolt cutters; u-locks, while not infallible, are far more secure. Most reputable locks also come with a lock warranty, which is a great back-up for insurance coverage. With a new Kryptonite lock, for example, you simply register the lock when you purchase it and then if your bike is stolen, supply the company with proof that the lock failed (such as the broken pieces) and a police report number and they will reimburse you for the full cost of the bike.
. Pay attention to how you lock your bike. Make sure you always lock it through the central part of the frame, not through something like a wheel that can easily be removed. Make sure the lock is snug around the frame and the rack, without a lot of movement; a popular way of breaking locks is to insert something such as a car jack and cranking the lock until it pops. A thief can't do this if there's no room to manoeuvre the tool. Avoid locking your bike to the piece of the bike rack that bolts to the ground; it may look more substantial than the narrower central pieces, but it's quite easy for a thief to undo the bolt, lift the rack up a little, and slide your lock out. Look for bike racks that are in high traffic spots, or with good lighting if you're leaving your bike at night.
Beating a determined bike thief isn't easy, but with a bit of care and a solid lock, you can at least make their life a lot harder.
Kay Cahill is a cyclist, librarian and outdoor enthusiast who believes that bikes are for life, not just for commuting. Contact Kay at email@example.com.