Bicycle larcenies tend to occur more frequently in areas that have a condensed population, as with most other crimes. In 2008, there were 14 reported bicycle larcenies in Sedgwick County.1 In reality, there were quite a few more bicycle thefts during this time period but bicycle thefts tend to be extremely underreported.
Because bicycles larcenies or thefts are very much crimes of opportunity, there are a number of ways in which you can help prevent your bicycle from being stolen:
First of all, RECORD YOUR BICYCLE’S SERIAL NUMBER. Keep these numbers in a safe place because it is virtually impossible for law enforcement officers to return your bicycle to you even if it is recovered if officers are not provided with the serial numbers. This can be done on the Property Inventory Sheet (see the right column for the link).
Oftentimes, the metal plate with the bicycle’s serial number on it is removed when a bicycle is stolen. It is a good idea to purchase an engraving tool and YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE NUMBER SHOULD BE ENGRAVED INTO THE FRAME OF THE BICYCLE. This can be used as a secondary identification number and will allow officers to return your bicycle to you if it is recovered.
Second of all, KEEP YOUR BICYCLE CHAINED UP AT ALL TIMES. This includes when it is parked at your house or in your backyard. College campuses and workplaces are also common theft locations. There are a number of different types of bicycle chain locks but “it is recommended that cyclists use two locks of different types because this will defend the secured bicycle against multiple perpetrator techniques.”2 Bicycle locks must be disengaged using several possible methods in order for a thief to take a chained bike. This can be done via striking, levering, or cutting the chain and/or lock. “Some robust locks are sold with an insurance guarantee for the bicycle they secure. The user must register the bike for the insurance to be valid.”3 Secure your bicycle to the item you are locking it to by the frame and not the tire.
Bicycle thefts occur for a variety of reasons. Bicycles are easy to hide and therefore make attractive getaway vehicles if needed. They are also relatively easy to steal and require few tools to do so. With the current concerns about the economy, more and more citizens are obtaining bicycles for transportation purposes, thereby providing criminals with more opportunities for theft and a large need for bicycle parts and bicycles themselves. “In addition, poor locking practices by cyclists ensure a constant supply of available targets.”4 Finally, many thieves steal a bike simply because they want one. Mountain bikes or BMXs are twice as likely to be taken as other “ordinary” bicycles.
If your bicycle is stolen, you should call 911 and advise the dispatcher that you need to report a bicycle theft. They will send a law enforcement officer to your house who will take the report. You should have your ID handy, as well as the bicycle’s serial number and any photographs of the bicycle that you might have. There will be some occasions where this type of report may be done over the telephone.