Dear bike thief… how to write a letter that could get your bike back

Bike theft isn’t nice, we all know that. Many cyclists have experienced that sinking feeling, upon returning to the spot where the bike once stood to find nothing but… well, nothing. Perhaps a broken lock if the thief felt like rubbing it in.

To prevent this happening to you, we wrote ‘three steps to theft proof your bike’, but sadly we can’t guarantee your bike will always be safe and sound.

Lately, we’ve seen a few interesting reactions to bike thefts… here’s a look at three of the best..

The (totally justified) anger / threat

Aaron Rush, a ‘poor student’ recently had his grey Giant stolen, and responded thus:


Aaron greets the thief with: “Hi there!” and is, in his own passive aggressive voice, quite kindly offers the thief a way out of what could potentially be quite a predicament.

The ‘douchbag’ greeting adds a satirical, threatening edge to this otherwise quite amiable letter, which caused a mass of retweets and reactions, with references appearing on the Independent, Daily Mail and more.

Of course the addition of the tracker might make this a success story, but the tracker was found to be disabled, and thus unfortunately despite the mini media storm in a bidon, the bike wasn’t returned.

A letter like this is a headline grabber – will get plenty of attention, but will probably leave the thief petrified (rightly so) and unlikely to creep out from under his/her rock to return it. Arguably the high profile letter and picture might make them too scared to sell it.

The heartstring puller

Six year old Roxy Thompson left a note in the front garden when six of her father’s custom bikes were taken from their garage in Portland, Oregan:


The note read:

‘Shame on you bike thieves!!! Your mom would be so disappointed! Even if she was a villain, she still wouldn’t want you to be a villain too! Sincerely, your resident 6-year-old.’

Unfortunately, most of us know that even the disappointment of a very sweet 6 year old won’t tempt a thief to return bikes. However, thankfully one of the bikes was bought by a member of the public, who saw it on TV and promptly ensured it was returned to the rightful father.

This letter, again, received plenty of media attention. It did win the hearts of many, and meant one bike was returned, but again the newsworthy letter of disgruntlement mainly highlighted the issue of bike theft and didn’t prompt a return.

The success – humanisation of the bike

It’s not always the most high profile, anger laced, or cute heart wrenching notes that win.

Step forward, Eileen Remedios. Eileen was using her bicycle to visit patients (she is a nurse), but was saddened to find the beloved velocipede went missing from outside a patients house one day.

In a last ditch effort to have her bike returned, she left an unassuming, ‘pretty please’ note to the thief on a nearby lamppost. Humanising the bike, she wrote:


Unlike notes above, which focused on the owner, this letter which showed the poor, frightened spirit of the bike, received a more successful reaction. The bike was returned, locked to the lamp post, with keys provided:


We suppose the thief perhaps found themselves struggling with the guilt of looking at the poor bicycle, as it quaked in its rubber shoes and mourned its owner. That, and the story wasn’t in the press until the bike was returned (a rare and newsworthy thing) so the thief was probably less scared of being ambushed by the paparazzi when approaching the designated lamppost.

The moral of the story?

If someone steals your bike – try making them feel sorry for it.

However, if you want to avoid the situation entirely, we suggest you follow our bike lock buying guide for maximum protection.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

3 Responses to Dear bike thief… how to write a letter that could get your bike back

  1. Dave 22/08/2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Cycling as a whole is neither valued or respected by other road users, public services, employers and landlords. Secure bike parking is every cyclists dream at work at play and at home. We need to make all the above aware of the value of cycling and the need for adequate provision for bike parking and storage.

    All that a lock does is help an honest person to stay honest

  2. Thomas 28/10/2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I love the first one- nothing better then making a thief feel like they’ve made the biggest mistake of their lives!

  3. Detective 25/08/2016 at 9:35 pm #

    I have a lot of trouble believing the last story. It was too convenient, and the handwriting on the letters is too similar for me to think that they were written by different people.

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