Buying a bike for university is a great low cost way to get around and cycling will help to keep you healthy as well, however, having a bike can also make you a target for thieves. Bikes are often stolen because it is easy to get them away from the scene of the crime, and there is a huge market for second hand bikes so they are very easy to sell on. Although it is not realistically possible to make your bike 100% theft proof, try to follow these steps to make your bike as secure as possible:
Get a heavy duty lock
Having a good bike lock is exceedingly important. Cheap locks can break easily if the bike is rattled around or if the lock is kicked, and they are therefore next to useless when it comes to protecting your bike. Cable-locks or thin chains can also be cut through quite easily with the right tools. U-Locks or thick chains are the best option.
Where possible, try to secure the lock through the frame and through a wheel. Never put the lock through just one wheel, or you may return to find that thieves have taken the rest of the bike and just left you with that one wheel! If possible, you should take steps to secure both wheels and the seat, as these individual components can all be stolen. If you are using a chain, wind it tightly, so that thieves cannot make enough room to get their bolt cutters around it.
Where to lock your bike
The place that you lock your bike is almost as important as what you lock it up with. For example, if you lock your bike to a chain link fence, anyone who wants to take the bike will probably just cut through the weak fence. Wooden fences and posts are also susceptible. Locking your bike to a short post may also allow the bike and lock to be simply lifted up off of the post. Wherever possible, park and lock your bike into a proper bike rack. If this is not possible, choose a tall, metal post which is solidly fixed into concrete, and which cannot be dislodged.
If possible, keep your bike indoors at night. If you have to park it outside, do not leave it in the same place every time, because thieves may be monitoring it.
Protect your accessories
When you leave you bike, take your accessories with you, as these can all be stolen too. Important components like bike lights and reflectors don’t weigh very much, so you can just pop them in your bag when you leave. Never leave your helmet just strapped to the bike. These things are often stolen from bikes if the thief cannot take the whole thing. Riding without them is dangerous, so it is safest to take them with you, so that you know you will have them next time you want to cycle.
Make your mark
Unfortunately, thieves can be persistent, and even if you do take as many steps as possible to secure your bike, they can sometimes still succeed in their crimes. When you get a bike, copy down the bike’s serial number (which should be stamped on the frame), and take a photo of the bike. You can then use these things to help you with the police report, and in a social media post about your loss should it be stolen.
If your bike is insured, you will have to report the theft to the police, in order to get a crime reference number. Without this number, the insurance company may not be willing to process your claim.