Theft, locks and insurance

Article reviewed: 2013/01/31 | Next review due: 2014/08/19

Don't be a loser! In Greater London about 80,000 bicycles were stolen last year and fewer than five per cent of these were returned to their owners. Follow the golden rulesbelow to reduce the risk of theft and increase the chances of recovering your bike if it's stolen.

To protect it, register it.

If you don't register your bike immediately, you'll never get around to it, so do it as soon as you've bought your bike! Register your bicycle model, make and frame number at Immobilise ( Immobilise). Without this information the police don't stand a chance of recovering your bike if it's stolen.

Buy a decent lock - or preferably two. Check the London Cycling Campaign (London Cycling Campaign) or Sold Secure (Sold Secure) for types of lock available. Expect to pay over £40, or 20% of the value of your bike on a lock.

Get insurance

An easy way to do this is to extend your home contents insurance to cover your bicycle - but make sure it covers you for thefts outside the home too. If your bicycle is particularly valuable you may need to insure it separately. See Bike For Allfor recommended insurers.

Lock it or lose it.

To minimise the risk of theft, consider the following tips when locking your bike:

  • If you leave your bike in a public space, make sure it is left somewhere where everyone can see it - people will also see if someone is trying to steal it
  • Make sure the lock catches the bike frame as well as the wheel and the post. If it only goes through the wheel a thief may steal the bike and leave the wheel behind. Lock both wheels in this way
  • Use a bike stand if there is one available because grills and gates can be cut with bolt cutters
  • Don't leave your bike in the same place every day. It will be noticed
  • Locks can also be picked, so face the lock to the ground (but not resting on it) so it can't easily be turned upwards for picking
  • Make it impossible for a thief to smash the lock open: fill the D part of a lock with as much of the bike as possible and never leave the lock lying on the pavement - a lock can be sledgehammered easily when it's resting on the ground
  • Take with you any items that can be removed without tools - wheels, lights, pump, computer, panniers, seat post and saddle. These can go even if you leave your bike for just a few minutes

Find out more about what Bike Hub (Bike Hub) are doing to reduce bicycle theft and how to use design against it.

Parliament Square and Whitehall security zone

If you park at street level in the security zone around Parliament Square and Whitehall your bike will be removed and taken to Charing Cross Police station.

You need to take your bike to an underground car park.

Secure parking

Transport for London are working in partnership with the Greater London Authority, the police and London Cycling Campaign to tackle bike theft in London. They are working to improve secure on-street facilities like those at Finsbury Park.

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