Bicycle theft is an important aspect of California security and has become somewhat of an epidemic in the state. Bike thefts are on the rise, up by 10 percent over last year, and will account for billions of dollars of property loss this year. The most troubling aspect of this growing problem is that the vast majority of these crimes go unreported to local law enforcement. Here are some tips to protect you from this unfortunate reality.

Make It Difficult to Steal

The most important step you can take is making your bike an unappealing target. Many California students have even gone as far as spray-painting their bikes in pastel colors and covering brand names with stickers. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but you should at least invest in two or more high-grade U-locks. If there are video surveillance systems nearby, be sure to secure your bike within their view.

Choose a Bike with Theft in Mind

Choosing the right bicycle can also go a long way to making it a more unattractive target. One of the greatest bike security features is quick-release wheels. A quick-release mechanism allows you to disconnect and connect the wheels of your bike very easily. Many bicyclists will secure the wheels separate from the frame, and some will even carry one of the tires with them into class or place of business.

Secure Accessories

Bike accessories are also high-target items, so be sure to choose them accordingly and secure them properly. The most targeted item is headlights, so many bike owners choose a detachable model that they can place in a knapsack or similar container when not in use. Baskets and racks are also common targets, and you can easily make those more difficult to steal using zip ties with a similar color to the bike frame.

Don’t Leave It Unsecured Momentarily

Bike thieves don’t generally target your specific bike. Usually, a bike theft is a crime of opportunity or a bike thief is on the prowl for an easy target and comes across your bicycle. When you leave your bike unattended, even for just a moment to run into a store, you’re playing right into the hands of a thief.

Store Bicycles Securely

Not all bikes are stolen off the sidewalk; in fact, a significant number of them are stolen from residential property. Never leave your bicycle outside, even secured or mounted to a vehicle. Instead, secure it in a garage or similar enclosure that is protected by strong locks, a monitored security system and perhaps even video surveillance systems.

Insure Your Bicycle

You may go to great lengths to protect yourself and still be the target of a bike crime. If you invest heavily in your bike, then you should also invest in insurance that will recoup your losses in the event of theft. Here’s the good news: bicycle insurance is cheap and often included as part of homeowner insurance, renters insurance or a California security system policy.

Report All Bicycle Thefts

California security statistics reveal that police recover more than 50 percent of all stolen bicycles. The bad news is that they’re only able to return less than five percent to their rightful owners due to a lack of information. The best way to ensure they have that information is to report the crime as soon as you realize it has happened. You can also register your bike with the National Bike Registry, so that if stolen and recovered by police, they can return it to its rightful owner just by checking the database.

Write down your serial codes, which are generally located at the head tube, seat tube, under crank and rear wheel mount. If local law enforcement has a bicycle theft program, be sure to register your bike with it. A clever idea is to stick your business card or a similar item in the handlebars or under the seat.

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