Sheriff's Office

Bicycle Larcenies

Bicycle larcenies tend to occur more frequently in areas that have a condensed population, as with most other crimes. It is believed that far more bicycle thefts actually occur than what is reported.

Because bicycles larcenies or thefts are very much crimes of opportunity, there are a number of ways in which you can help prevent your bicycles from being stolen:

  1. 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).
  2. 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. Please do not use your social security number to identify your bicycle.
  3. 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 bicycles 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 theft 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.”2 Secure your bicycle to the item you are locking it to by the frame and not the tire.

Bicycles 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.” 1 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.

We, at the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, are dedicated to helping citizens combat crime in their neighborhoods. But we need your help! By utilizing crime prevention techniques around your home, work place, and vehicles, you can decrease your chances of becoming a victim! If you have any questions about what you could do to help protect yourself and your property, please call either your Community Liaison Unit at (316) 660-3920 or your Community Policing Unit at (316) 660-0750.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is not intended to be legal advice, but is merely intended to convey general information commonly encountered when dealing with the subjects discussed herein. Because laws can change very rapidly, we cannot guarantee that any Information on this document (or references contained therein) is current or accurate. Additionally, laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and are subject to interpretation of courts located in each county. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case and the information provided herein may not be an appropriate fit for your particular situation. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, its employees, agents, or others will not be liable or responsible for any claim, loss, injury, liability, or damages related to use of this document or any reference provided herein

Related Links / Articles

National Bike Registry

Handouts and Pamphlets

Property Inventory Pamphlet

Property Inventory Sheet (pdf)

Property Inventory Sheet (Excel)

Property Inventory Sheet Example


1 Johnson, Shane D., Aiden Sidebottom, and Adam Thorpe. "Bicycle Thefts." Problem-Oriented Guides for Police 52 (2008): 1-63. Print.

Date Written: 12/23/2009
Date Reviewed: 12/03/2013

Written by: Deputy C. Fischer D1639
Reviewed by: J. Page D1642