Have you ever had a bike stolen?

bike-lock-cutFor this weeks Comment Friday it’s time to revisit a deep and repressed memory! Bike Theft! Have you had it happen to you and if so what happened?

I remember well my bike being stolen outside college. I returned from my class, walked to the bike shed and it just wasn’t there. At first I was completely stumped and even started to wonder if I had actually cycled that day. Looking back it’s no surprise it was taken. It had a cheap £10 lock attached to just the front wheel. I wasn’t saddened by the monetary value of it (an old mountain bike) but more the fact suddenly I didn’t have my beloved bike to get me home. I talked to the security about any footage of the theft happening but they had nothing. Defeated, I took the bus to get home.

Share your bike theft experiences in the comments..

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Image via Barry Pousman

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83 Responses to Have you ever had a bike stolen?

  1. James 04/03/2011 at 7:06 am #

    Yep – don’t leave bikes in communal hallways guys. Some hoodlum kicked in the front door and ran off with with bike. I’d only left it there for a minute while I put the shopping away. Very frustrating as insurance wouldn’t cover it either.

  2. Bartek 04/03/2011 at 7:29 am #

    Yep. Stolen overnight from bike stand in security protected yard in my building complex. As always security didn’t see anything and police probably even didn’t check CCTV (5 cameras on the way from where bike was to exit gate). And they send me letter saying that my case is closed almost next day.

  3. Rob 04/03/2011 at 7:40 am #

    I had mine stolen from my back garden on my birthday. Stupidly I hadn’t locked it but the garden does have an 8 foot wall topped with a huge wisteria so I underestimated the commitment of the thieves.

  4. Drew 04/03/2011 at 8:50 am #

    My wife’s bike was stolen on Christmas Eve in broad daylight. It was in the street, right outside my bedroom window and I heard it happen. I heard the sound of the metal chain rattling and the lock dropping to the floor. I heard the cycle moving off.

    I didn’t look out and I didn’t try to do anything about it. Was I wrong?

    Firstly, when you have a suspicion this might be what is happening you try not to feed your paranoia and fight the idea that bad things like that are happening all the time. I was not in view of the window, but had I moved a half a metre and looked out I might have just seen a person trying to lock their own bike to the railings and dropping the chain, or a council worker sweeping the street and trying to get under the bike. In either case they would have seen me peering out at them in twitchy-curtain way that we all hate when we’re on the receiving end.

    Even now, knowing the outcome, I still don’t really know what I would have seen and then done – endless thoughts and questions begin. Young or old? Male or female? Scruffy & unkempt or groomed & dressed in name brands? Looking calm or on edge?

    Of course within a second, they’d have seen me too – twitching the curtain! Would they have run? With or without the bike? I could threaten or cleverly photograph them – but wouldn’t that just leave me feeling vulnerable since they know where I live?

    Is there anything that would make a bike thief fear the consequences of someone even catching them in the act? A passer-by or resident will do nothing. I certainly wouldn’t want to end up becoming the criminal for trying to stop him/her by force!

    Lock & hope.


    • Bdave262000 04/03/2011 at 5:09 pm #

      I would have battered them to an inch of their lifes. Did the same to some c u next tuesday who smashed my car window and was in the process of going through my glove box through the smashed window. I kicked him so hard up the A*se that I had brusing on the top of my foot for about two week.

  5. Sweek 04/03/2011 at 8:55 am #

    I’d like to know what kind of locks and locking techniques you guys use… And yes, gardens, secured bike sheds, communal hallways etc. don’t mean you can let your guard down. I’m fine so far with my two Kryptonite D locks, a Fahg Mini and a Series 4.

  6. Tim Beadle 04/03/2011 at 9:20 am #

    Similarly to Rob, my Gary Fisher hardtail was stolen from our back garden. It was unlocked, but due to the 6ft fence my insurance company at the time (Co-op) still paid up, and I got a Trek 7.6 FX as a replacement.

  7. Dave Escandell 04/03/2011 at 9:27 am #

    Had a bike stolen from outside work a few months ago.

    locked and on private property
    work clearly shown to be a firm of solicitors

    Some people have huge balls – either that or a colleague was playing a joke and has forgotten to tell me

  8. Katja Leyendecker 04/03/2011 at 9:29 am #

    Once. It was in 1984 (or thereabouts), in Germany. Despite being locked, it was stolen from a communal backyard. I obtained a new second-hand bicycle and lived on, happily ever after. No permanent psychological damage was done – no resultant depression or latent aggression or anything =)

  9. ian 04/03/2011 at 9:32 am #

    I left my bike at Marylebone station for 2 weeks while I went on holiday. Came back and found not only was the bike still there, I had failed to lock it properly. Clearly the bike I used for London commuting was so bad it wasn’t worth stealing

    • Mike 04/03/2011 at 2:50 pm #

      I think there are so many bikes at Marylebone station that if a bike thief decided to nick one, you’d be very unlucky for it to be yours.

  10. themicksa 04/03/2011 at 10:08 am #

    I’ve lost count of the number of bikes I’ve had stolen in my half century on this planet. The first was my tricycle. The second was the old postie’s bike I’d retrieved from a skip and got back on the road. I didn’t think much about security back then.The third was locked to a great lump of concrete in our front garden which I later found in the park where the thieves had carried it along with the bike.
    I didn’t cycle for a long time after that and when I did it was always on crap bikes because I couldn’t bear the thought of losing a brand new one. I guess I also bought crap locks because sooner or later they always got nicked–from the racks at the swimming pool, from the car park at work, from the railings on the Strand. So I started using Kryptonite New York locks which seemed to work until I stupidly left both bike and lock when I left the bike against the window of a caff where I stopped to pick up a croissant. I took my eye of it for about ten seconds and it was gone gone gone.
    The whole family cycles now and as the bikes got bigger and the hall got fuller we invested in a Trimetals bike shed for the front garden. Last summer thieves came and bolt-cuttered the hasps of and went off with two bikes. They performed the same trick on 4 or 5 sheds within a couple of streets of ours. The police came and stroked their chins, asked whether we had insurance and suggested a visit to Brick Lane. Trimetals kindly sent us new much thicker hasps. Two weeks ago the (same?) thieves returned to collect the two shiny new replacement bikes, chopping through the thicker hasps just the same. They visited at least one other shed in the street. The police came and stroked their chins, offered their condolences and a leaflet about victim support. The retail cost of replacing bikes, locks, racks, lights is likely to be around £900.
    The next morning there was a nice note through the door from the police cautioning residents to remove radios and satnavs from their cars because there has been a spate of auto break-ins.
    Never mind. Spring is here, the insurance money will come through soon, new improved external and internal security is planned for the shed and the cycle of life rolls on.

    • Bart Govaert 04/03/2011 at 11:12 am #

      We also had lots of bikes stolen out of our shed (several times). The police actually found one of the bikes in somebody’s house. Arrest were made, fingerprints taken, statements typed in MS Word and signed and countersigned, but finally the CPS decided there was no evidence.

      The cops were as annoyed as I was but it seems there is nothing I can do against the CPS decision. The police actually did a very good job.

      At least I got the bike back. I picked it up yesterday. It took my quite a while to wipe off all the fingerprint stuff.

  11. Andrew 04/03/2011 at 10:12 am #

    This being London, surely a more unique topic would be “Has anyone NOT had a bike stolen?”

  12. Ben Brown 04/03/2011 at 10:17 am #

    Had two of the same bikes stolen from Southbank – a giant fcr2. Got security footage but not clear enough. In interview police kept on calling me the loser, which my wife found hilarious. “So, when you, the loser….”. Now ride with two d-locks and that photo at the top is scaring me. Really I should have 2 different types of locks. They are both gold secure locks though and my bikes are all registered with police. Very glad of police using planted bikes to catch thieves, if it works I’m happy.

  13. Aurora 04/03/2011 at 10:24 am #

    I got my Team Banana stolen from my doorstep about three weeks ago.
    It was a terrible loss because It has been incredibly cheap and now I have to find a part-time job to pay another one. I will be paranoid as soon as I get a new one, will problably lock it in three or four different ways.

  14. Mark Culmer 04/03/2011 at 10:32 am #

    Yes, my lovely Scott Expert Racing mountain bike.

    Stolen in Islington 4 years ago now!! All that was left was the broken lock.

    So now two locks, big and up to the job – cost a bit though!

    But for the most, try not to lock my bike up if quickly popping in to a shop – just wheel it in and mumble, pretending not to speak english!!

  15. JonF 04/03/2011 at 10:40 am #

    In 1991 my purple Specialized Rockhopper Sport was taken from round the back of the factory I was working at. A year or so later burglars took the replacement Kona Cinder Cone (Jackson Pollock paint splash effect design) from my hallway. Since then I haven’t used a mountain bike for cycing round town. When I was in Leeds someone cut the cable lock on my Raleigh Arena GT and took only the crash helmet – they left the bike! Seems it was a safety-minded petty criminal. I instantly bought a Squire Paramount D-lock which I still keep at the railway station to use in addition to my Abus Granit. The bike (Dawes) I found in a skip, but I still use £100 worth of locks. I refuse to let anyone take my bike.

    My girlfriend’s bike (1970’s Raleigh Caprice) was stolen from the hospital where she was working a couple of years ago. Was only using a feeble cable lock on the grounds that D-locks were big and heavy and no one would steal a girls’ bike from a hospital. I guess the thief got £20 for it but she’d had it for 20+ years and loved it. Now uses a Kryptonite Series 2 D-lock.

  16. Dunc 04/03/2011 at 10:56 am #

    Mine was stolen from the secure yard at my office. Security “didn’t have the capacity” to review CCTV. Police also “didn’t have the capacity” to review the tapes. Luckily my home insurance covered it but the ETA insurance policy that I got for third party didn’t as it was locked there for over 24 hours. The moral of my story is to not leave your bike overnight anywhere unless you know your insurance covers it. Don’t bother with ETA as you can join CTC/LCC and get third party insurance plus with CTC you get other great perks like discounts in shops.

    I have a Kryptonite NY 3000 which is heavy but 11/12 on the security ranking, plus a chunky chain that I use in combo with the D-Lock when I lock up in the city.

  17. Izzy 04/03/2011 at 11:04 am #

    My Raleigh, kindly given to me by a friend when I was desperate, was sadly stolen a couple of months ago as I was planning for a LEJOG cycle.

    There was no sign of the (admittedly cheap) lock, and I have a horrible feeling I locked the chain only to the bike frame and missed the post. . .talk about making it easy for thieves. I’ve now invested in a Squire D-lock, but must remember to actually attach it to something.

  18. Adrian 04/03/2011 at 11:09 am #

    Mine was nicked from the front of the office I was working at. It was November, bike was 2 months old. I’d attached to an 18 foot street post. I’d checked that from ground level you would not be able to lift off the top of the pole, and the bike was right in front of the building, visible by the reception staff. The Receptionist and one of the partners saw the theives pull up in a flat bed truck, use attery operated tools to remove the street signs, and from the elevated height of the truck easily got the bike off the top. The people that saw the theft assumed the theives were council workers until the bike was lifted.

    Insurance paid out, and now I never attach to a pole with an open top. The number of poles with no signs I see makes me think this happens often.

  19. Ben Brown 04/03/2011 at 11:16 am #

    The lamp post issue just makes me furious that more counciles aren’t using cyclehoops on lamp posts, very simple and effective and easy to install. No I don’t work for them, but we desperately need more cycle parking and they are a convenient solution.

  20. PKR 04/03/2011 at 11:21 am #

    I am one of the few people who rides in London that has not had a bike stolen. I’m sure it is just a matter of time.

    I’ve got two bikes – a white boardman hybrid that I use as my main commuting bike and a beautiful pinarello I use at the weekends. Both would be easy to sell on and are high spec, so arre perfect bike thief fodder. I always use two locks, both gold rated, one cable and one D lock. I do everything I can to make sure that my bikes are not the ones that get knicked – they even get locked up inside my flat. If I’m parking outside, I try to make sure that my bike is locked up in the same area as other bikes. If there is a row of bike stands I try to make sure that my bike is not on the end and I always get a selfish happy feeling when I see nice bikes that are poorly secured – as it means that any thieves are more likely to take that one than my bike (bad attitude I know).

    At the end of the day though, there is very little you can do to stop a determined experienced bike thief. All locks can be broken or cut through with the right tools. I therefore feel resigned to having a bike stolen at some point. My bikes are insured up to the hilt, so barring a disaster there shouldn’t be a problem in getting either bike replaced. What I hate the most though is the actual loss, being stranded far from home without my transport, and the constant fear that this causes. When I lock my bike up there is always that thought that it might not be there when I get back.

    I love living in London, but I do get pangs of jealousy when I go across to places like Bruges. I have left my bike outside shops and cafes there, locked with a lightweight cable (hell, half the time not locked at all) and you just don’t have the same fear factor, because there is so little bike crime.

  21. Ian 04/03/2011 at 11:24 am #

    Cycling home along the Lea Tow Path after the Sky Ride last year my son (15 yrs) and I were mugged for our bikes in broad daylight

    I was hit over the head with a bottle, and my son threatened with a shard of glass by 3 young men (aged 15 to 18) We of course handed them over.

    After a bit of detective work we found my Bike on both GumTree and Ebay a week later. (It had a distinctive saddle rip) Whoever was selling the bike left his number and address on gumtree. I was all for meeting with the seller and taking a few large friends with me, but I was persuaded to inform the police and let them deal with it. I found out later that the Police dithered and didnt go round to the sellers house for a week by which time my bike had been sold….

    The Police told me that the seller wasn’t one of the lads who assaulted us and that he had found the bike abandoned about half a mile from the incident. Our bikes were only Insured for theft from my house and not while being used.

  22. Doug 04/03/2011 at 11:26 am #

    I have had several bikes stolen in London, and a couple from the town I grew up in too, but I won’t count them.

    The first time in London was two bikes at once, from Charing Cross Rd, chained to the railings outside the Cambridge Theatre. I had a mountain bike that I’d bought off a friend when he bought a better one, and also my sisters bike that my girlfriend was riding. Can’t remember what lock exactly but when we came out of the cinema they’d gone. Gutted! I tried to be philosophical about the loss of mine “no point getting upset about something you can’t change/undo”, but it was difficult breaking the news to my sister, she loved her bike and had done the ‘knowledge’ on it whilst working toward her cab drivers licence. No insurance, little support from the police.

    My next bike was a second hand Muddy Fox mountain bike from a friend of a friend who was going travelling. Stolen from the enclosed yard at the back of the restaurant I worked at in Herne Hill. No lock, my own fault really for being complacent about the seemingly secure yard. I had been particularly unlucky with this bike, it had previously had wheels and saddle stolen. I was starting to learn my lesson.

    After losing the muddy fox I moved to Bristol for a bit and bought myself a GT Karakoram from the classified ads in a mountain bike mag. I spent much time tinkering with it, and getting it running nicely on what little funds I had, I enjoyed many great rides in the local countryside until one day someone in our shared house didn’t shut the front door properly and a thief came and took the bike out of my room on the ground floor. I saw it once again being ridden fast down a hill in the town, too fast for me to catch up with them. I was the most gutted so far losing this one as I had really put a lot of effort into making it a good bike.

    After moving back to London, I bought again second hand, a really lovely polished chromo framed Sunn mountain bike, it needed some parts replacing and I virtually rebuilt the whole bike. It was a great bike and really well cared for, and I had datatagged it. I had it for a good while before it got nicked. I had by now started to get paranoid about bike theft, and I would never leave it locked up for long and when I did I would always put 2 or sometimes 3 locks on it. I’d ask shops if they minded if I brought it in if there wasn’t a decent place to lock it where I could keep my eye on it. Then one day after getting home from work on it I leant it up against the wall by the entrance to my block of flats, at the same time a delivery man was asking me if I could show him what floor one of the flats was on. So I went inside with him and told him what lift to get and what floor to press etc. now because I was either used to coming through the front door either with my bike or without it my mind tricked me into thinking I didn’t have my bike with me and I completely forgot I had left it outside. I got in the lift and didn’t realise I’d left it outside until I was in my flat with my coat off. I can’t even describe the sinking feeling I had when I realised what I’d done. I rushed downstairs, but of course it wasn’t there. I went to the police, I gave them really detailed descriptions of the bike, which was quite unique, and I gave them the datatag info, but as expected they did bugger all. This is the last full bike I’ve had stolen and like the one before it I saw it being ridden about a year after it was nicked. I chased them while trying to ring the police and get help, but I never caught them and the police didn’t seem to want to help. I still feel sad about the loss of that bike, and really stupid because of the way I lost it.

    I have since then built up from parts a nice new (well it was new 5 yrs ago) Cove Stiffee mountain bike, which I’m even more paranoid about than the last one. But even that has had the front suspension forks stolen from outside a supermarket, while the bike was locked with 3 good locks, through both wheels and frame, and just through the frame. The little sh**’s undid my headset and the wheel, but could take the forks because they didn’t have a lock through them, and the worst thing about that was the CCTV wasn’t good enough to ID anyone but it was good enough for me to see them do it.

    So now my bag weighs almost as much as I do when I’m on my bike, 3 locks and kryptoflex cables, tools, waterproofs and that’s before I have any other non bike related things in there.

  23. Leslie 04/03/2011 at 11:31 am #

    Yep, least year I had two (a red heavily customised Cannondale F500 and old Bickerton portable) stolen from my garden shed despite the fact there was a titanium lock on the door, the bikes were chained together inside, the shed was alarmed, there were security night lights and I was upstairs with aclear view out of the window which was open!
    A well ‘cased’ job if ever there was one.
    In all fairness my home insurance company payed up in full so I only suffered the temporary disappointment of loosing my prizes.
    Built myself an F800 which weighs less than most road bikes and restored a 1964 Moulton with the proceeds so my story has had a happy ending, not like very many I’m sure.
    Bring back the stocks I say 🙂

  24. Chris 04/03/2011 at 11:33 am #

    I had my self-assembled bike (worth about 2k) stolen 2 years ago from unlocked (yep, i know) garage. Enraged! Police did usual stuff; nothing. There’s happy ending though 😉 Two weeks later my mate was approached in his local pub (other side of london) by two chavs, asking if he wants to buy a bike. He knew my wheels well. The rest is history 😉 Interesting fact: they wanted 100 quid for it; who says there’s no bargains to be found?! Safe ride people.

  25. Will Meyer 04/03/2011 at 11:53 am #

    My brother and I spent 2 years building custom bikes for people in London – since then over 50% have now been stolen – if you have a nice bike I suggest never to leave it out on the streets for too long, they’ll steal it somehow. In a few cases where people had huge locks the thiefs just cut through the bike rack itself!

  26. Matt Andrews 04/03/2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Had two stolen in Leeds, none yet in the 8 months I’ve been in London for. In Leeds both were left in busy public areas at night (going for a few pints after work…) and my insurance covered them. My newest bike is my first half-decent one (Trek 1.1C) so it’s locked in our garden, which has 8 foot walls surrounding it and a steeper drop on the back wall (more like 10 feet), so I’m fairly confident with it being there. I won’t leave it locked up anywhere else even with my hefty chain lock, too paranoid now.

  27. Vicki 04/03/2011 at 1:27 pm #

    My grey Kona bike was locked to the bike stand by the thieves lock. I left my exercise class, found I could take my bike home and had to leave it for them to return to as the police couldn’t help me (it’s not against the law to chain someone’s else property apparently) and the cost for someone to cut it off was more than the excess on my insurance.

    The next one I got was a womans and pink rather than a dark boys. It lives in my front garden (I have a ground anchor that’s rated and a rain cover so possibly looks like a motorbike) as my landlord won’t allow it in the house or taken through house to garden. Had it 2years now and use three locks to secure it and the wheels. Luckily, as it’s a shared house, someone sleeps near the window where it’s kept so that might help deter.

  28. Simon Wilcox 04/03/2011 at 1:27 pm #

    April 2010, Sirrus Elite and Ridgeback Velocity stolen from our conservatory. Thieves broke the door down to get in. We’d only had them a week and stupidly they weren’t locked. I hadn’t even thought to take down the serial numbers. Police were very nice but did nothing. I got the case closed letter a day before the letter with the official crime number on it !

    We’d got them to do the London Cambridge bike ride in July for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and after faffing around with insurance we only got replacements a week before the event. We made it although it took 8 hours & we were properly sore afterwards!

    Now the bikes are kept locked in the conservatory anchored to a massive wall hoop. I haven’t dared lock them to anything outside a shop, the fear of losing them is just too great.


  29. Tiva 04/03/2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Living in Camden, it’s not a question of ‘if’ your bike gets stolen, but ‘when’. I regularly see hungry-looking hoodies cycling around on £2k bikes and I’ve even clocked them walking around with chain-cutters in their sleeves.

    All of the signage on my street has been vandalised as a result of bike crime too – when people chain their bikes to the ‘no parking’ signposts and things, thieves just remove the signs from the top of the posts and then lift the bikes straight off. It has the knock on effect of people constantly getting parking tickets in my road because there are no visible parking restriction signs left on the street.

    The gangs around here steal bike lights and accessories as a status thing too – a bit like they used to to with car parts in the 90s. A mate of mine caught a kid nicking the lights off his bike the other day and the kid had the audacity to say that if he wasn’t allowed to take the lights away with him his mates were going to beat him up!

    And just as an aside, can I just say how incredibly frustrating it is to see how crap most people are at chaining their bikes up. I often think, if you can’t even be arsed to lock it properly, then it serves you right when it gets nicked. That said, if they want your bike, they are probably going to find a way to get it, no matter how well protected up it is.

    I started riding in London a few years ago on a battered old 1970s Raleigh Honey – with all original parts and an unusual wheel size. I always kept a big chain on it to discourage kids from nicking it, but it was so battered that it was hardly worth stealing. Since then, sticking to the ‘when’ not ‘if’ adage, I have graduated to a Brompton and lug it up three flights of stairs daily to avoid having to keep it in the corridor or out in the street. I don’t have a lock for itmy Brompton and always take it with me when I stop somewhere because locking it up defeats the purpose of having a folding bike. You might as well put a sign on it saying ‘help yourself’.

    I’ve been a London cyclist for four years now and so far so good for me – I’m still lucky enough (and careful enough) to be an ‘if’ and not a ‘when’.

  30. Emma Davidson 04/03/2011 at 2:25 pm #

    My bike was stolen in broad daylight from outside the V&A museum during half-term week, and the thieves had to deal with both a decent cable lock & Kryptonite D-Lock – so full marks to them really…. I had the same “did I actually put it here” moment a couple of other people have described, and had to wander around for a few minutes before I fully realised what had occurred. Luckily the insurance paid up ok, and I’m not sure what I could have done differently – I take care locking up my (less desirable-looking) new bike but I guess if the theives are that determined they’re going to get it anyway.

  31. bob 04/03/2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Havnt been a direct victim but very nearly was.

    a few years back, came out of the station on the way back from work and found that the £2.99 combination lock i use to lock my “lampost commuter” was open. Racked my brains if i had forgotton to lock it in the morning but was convinced i hadnt.

    I looked around and saw a shifty looking charecter opening another combi lock. I gave him an evil stare and he jogged off and jumped into a running white transit van.

    Looks like i got there at just the right moment. a couple of minutes later and I would probably have had to walk home.

    I regret not calling the police as I didnt make note of any details (it was dark)

    2 weeks later my sisters bike was nicked from the same spot – also locked by a 2.99 combi lock.

    moral of the story, always call the police, if only for your own sanity and peace of mind, and, combi locks are good for nothing.

    • Mark Culmer 04/03/2011 at 3:00 pm #

      you could also hit them on the top of the nose with the combi lock…it would be usefull that way

  32. Corin 04/03/2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Thankfully not sin London so far, but I keep my bike indoors over night, and lock it with d-lock, cable and extra padlock in work bike stand during the day and during the brief periods I leave it in town or outside shops.

    Someone clearly had a go at the cable about a year ago because the plastic sheething is cut in one place, but they didn’t get through the metal.

    Last bike I remember having stolen was when I was a teenager and a thief took my unlocked bike from the end of a garden path while I was delivering a newspaper to the house!

  33. Tim 04/03/2011 at 2:50 pm #

    I live in a flat with 2 electronic secruity gates, 24hr CCTV and conciegre, and the bike was locked up on my balcony area (ground floor) with a cable and d lock.

    CCTV clearly shows 4 youngsters in hoodies, saunter up with bolt cropper in hand – then walking off with my bike, about 4 am in the morning.

    I keep the new one in doors now.

    I think you have to havethe mindset, its not if but when and do everything you can to delay it!

  34. Uzair Siddiqi 04/03/2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Definitely. My Pinnacle Mean Streak Hybrid was locked on Wood Lane outside the Burger King in Westfield in September last year. It was locked with an Abus steel chain thing combination lock. Couple of hours after I was done in Westfield, I was inside (about to go out) and could see the cycle parking spaces through the windows. After staring, I saw it just wasn’t there. Instead, a road bike (assumably stolen) was in its place, and my lock cut in half on the floor.

    The insurance company did nothing, claiming we never spoke to them regarding a bike, despite having done so.

    My uncle bought me the 2010 version a few weeks after because I needed a bike, and also looking at the statistics of stolen bikes in London, acknowledged the slim chance of a return. Then in October, I received a call from Hammersmith Police Station reminding me of the stolen bike and asked me for a wider description of it. Turned out they found my bike. How? Well a dedicated cycle theft team in the police found a guy who was selling 10 or so above decent bikes on Gumtree. One of the policemen recognised fake ads like this one, and tracked down the man. They found him in the Hammersmith area and knew he had a stolen van too. After searching for 2 hours in Hammersmith, my bike, along with the 9 others was found.

    I’m pretty paranoid now. It’s registered with the insurance company for an extra fee, Immobolise, Bike Register and Bike Revolution.

  35. Patrick 04/03/2011 at 9:58 pm #

    Had my hybrid bike stolen from outside my flat about three years ago. It was not an expensive bike but I had looked after it and it probably looked more expensive than it was. My reaction? I was absolutely furious and if I had the chance at the time I would have happily strangled the bastards. The police did not want to know except to say that there had been a lot of such thefts in the area. Well if they knew that why dont they stop it – they are the police after all!
    It is noticeable from all the stories that most people who cycle in and aound London (or other cities and towns for that matter) have accepted that sooner or later it will happen to you. This is similar to the belief that if you cycle in London sooner or later you will be hit (probably by taxi or white van). I really believe we should try to stop with those attitudes – having my bike stolen or being hit while riding are not badges of courage to be worn with pride.
    Sorry if that sounds a little pompous but if we accept such things as inevitable then nothing will change.

  36. Elena 04/03/2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Yes! Two in the last 2 years.
    1) 2009. A light blue Dahon 3 speed folder that I imported from the Netherlands (hub-geared – I’ve never seen any like it in London, in case any readers should happen to see it?) that was locked to a railing (medium-heavy cable lock) inside the gated courtyard of a friend’s apartment building in Bethnal Green. We came down to find bike and cable had vanished; the courtyard gate was propped (something people regularly did at this building because the buzzer didn’t work.) Tower Hamlets police abandoned the case in about 24 hours.
    2) 2010. A black gaffer tape covered Pinnacle Mean Streak 3.0 locked (again, heavy cable lock) to a massive fence along a public passage between office buildings in EC4A, taken literally 2 meters in front of the Senior Courts Cost Office. The guard on duty saw nothing, no CCTV – but when I went back, he did spot I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, and did I want to go out with him one night? City of London police were brilliant – they sent someone to fingerprint my cut lock, and stayed in touch over the next month before giving up. All the other bikes nearby were locked with D-locks, and not one was touched. Guess what I use now….

  37. Oscar 05/03/2011 at 4:29 am #

    Yes, very recently (jan 2011), on a bike I bought in jan 2010.
    I left it outside my flat, near the stairs, inside a drying room where only the residents have access (6 flats in that entry, on a second floor). Chances of anyone nicking it were low, I thought. Another neighbour also left his bike in there.
    One day it wasn’t. I wasn’t pissed off about the price (as I considered it already on profit of how much I’d saved on public transfer), but about the fact that, until I got a new bike, the journey to work would take 1h20′ by bus instead of 20 minutes. Each way.

  38. Paul 05/03/2011 at 9:07 am #

    Had my GT Avalanche nicked from outside work, in a fairly public place with a Kryptonite cable lock. Even though we had CCTV of him doing it and a full face shot of him from the office the police closed the case a week later.

    The fury I felt at having my bike snatched from me…. The guy even had the cheek to dress in bike gear with a helmet to look authentic.

    On a positive note I had bike cover on my home contents insurance and should recieve a voucher for a replacement next week.

  39. emma 05/03/2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I don’t know whether these comments are more angering or heartbreaking… the almost complete lack of interest on the part of the police to do anything at all about it. This does seem to be changing in London with specialist bike units, it’s late but at least it’s happening. Wonder if they’ll stick around when the cuts kick in…?

    Security for bike parking in central London is shite. I’d happily pay a one-off/weekly/monthly/yearly charge to use a network of secure, covered bikeparks with CCTV all over London.

    The central London office building where I work has a garage on the ground floor, accessed from a mews at the back of the building. A pair of big sliding gates to let cars in, a small pedestrian door, four Sheffield stands (for 6 companies with a combined workforce of about 150, maybe?) and space for 6 cars or a mix of cars and scooters.

    The big gates frequently jam and when this happens they’re invariably fixed to stay open rather than shut. This happened this week and a couple of days ago I was outside the back of the building, checked my bike was still there, saw a couple of kids on bikes haring up the mews, nothing unusual about that. They stopped at one end, got off their bikes and wandered through the open gates – they hadn’t seen me as it was dark – I followed them in and they skulked off. About five minutes later the building manager had me (and others) called back down there as he’d seen people trying to nick stuff on the CCTV – one of the scooters parked in there had a screwdriver jammed in the lock and they’d been trying to smash it with rocks. Turned out a guy from another company had had his brand new £1,500 bike nicked from there a couple of weeks previously.

    The gates are still busted, my boss won’t let me have my bike in the office despite the fact it’s in the empty corner in my office and in no one’s way (I have no idea what his reasoning is but whatever, it’s his company), I really don’t want to leave it in the garage any more, I can’t face having to use public transport – work takes me all over London from 9am-1am – and can’t afford public transport anyway.

    I have an alright cable lock and a kickass Abus D-lock. Anyone recommend a solid chain lock that doesn’t cost a million pounds?

    • Amoeba 07/03/2011 at 7:02 am #


      Perhaps your best bet would be a sold-secure motorcycle gold chain and a high security padlock.

      This will be too heavy for daily transporting by bike. But it will be very hard to cut, bolt cutters won’t touch it. Note: Always keep chains and padlocks tight and off the ground.

      Determine the length of chain needed by using a rope. Since chains only come in a series of lengths, you will need to buy the next longer length.

      Typical lengths are 0.8; 1.0; 1.2; 1.5; 2.0; 2.5; 3.0 metres and so on. You will need to allow for the ‘loss’ of the length of one link, because with most of these chains one link passes through the end of the other and the padlock only secures the end link.

      I can’t recommend any particular one of these chains because I’ve never attacked one as if I were a thief. However, I have a Sold-Secure Bicycle Gold 11 mm link Boron steel Pragmasis ‘Protector’ chain with a Squire SS5CS padlock, which I use and am very pleased with (and I’m considering another), but it may not be enough for central London (to some extent, this depends on the value of your bicycle). If I were you I would be looking at the 13 mm link version as an absolute minimum, but perhaps the 16 mm link version. You may also need the more secure Squire SS65CS padlock for the 16 mm chain or the cheaper but still SS-G rated ‘Untouchable’ lock [not usable with all chains]. Other SS-G chains and padlocks are available, I really don’t know which is best. I would choose SS-G over Thatcham ratings for physical security [mechanical].

      Warning: Big chunky chains sold at supermarkets are probably cheap crap. You need to buy high quality European (British) chains.

      Sold-Secure’s current catalogue is here (if it isn’t in here, if I were you, I wouldn’t bother):

      If your bike is insured or you are considering insurance, appropriate SS rating (or higher), is essential

      You could use two padlocks and shorter chains, say 0.8 metre. One for the front wheel and frame, the second for the rear wheel and frame. This would be more secure, lighter easier to handle than the longer lengths of chain and probably not too expensive if the ‘Untouchable’ lock is used. Alternatively, you could use a good SS-G rated U-Lock in combination with a SS-G padlock and chain. Important with the U-lock, you need to take care to FILL THE LOCK with bike and Sheffield Stand so that it can’t be ‘jacked’ or ‘torqued’. If it’s a short U-lock, that won’t be a problem, but with a long U-lock, that might be. Using two different types of security automatically makes your bike more secure, because the thief is unlikely to have the ability or tools to defeat both locks. Two locks means twice the amount of time and time is a luxury that thieves don’t usually have.
      There are also various alarms available.

      Warning these large chains and padlocks are heavy and could damage a carbon frame if dropped. You need to look at your bike and establish whether the links will fit through the spokes and frame. You will need to secure both wheels as well as the frame.

      Always lock to an immovable object that can’t be cut or the bike lifted over the end. These chains will be a lot harder to cut than a Sheffield stand.

      • emma 09/03/2011 at 12:19 am #

        Thanks Amoeba! I’m going to investigate these and sort one out next payday. Much appreciated!

      • Will 11/03/2011 at 9:09 pm #

        Why do you rate SS-G over Thatcham? Thatcham as I understood was for validating car and motorbike security, generally of higher value than a bicycle. Having recently bought a new bicycle and locks, I had to question this with insurers and my insurers despite saying publicly they only accept SS-G, conceeded that they will also accept Thatcham. I think they only publicise SS-G because it’s aimed at the bicycle market, where Thatcham isn’t. Am I wrong?

        • Amoeba 12/03/2011 at 6:23 am #

          “Why do you rate SS-G over Thatcham? Thatcham as I understood was for validating car and motorbike security, generally of higher value than a bicycle.”

          I said: “I would choose SS-G over ratings for physical security [mechanical].”

          FYI, SoldSecure do approve motorcycle security devices, but IIRC, they are purely mechanical. Whereas Thatcham assesses mechanical and electronic security as well.

          I’ve heard that Thathcham isn’t as demanding as SoldSecure in respect of MECHANICAL security. This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that IIRC Insurance companies often do not consider Thatcham rated products – certainly as far as bicycle security is concerned. Were Thatcham approval always superior to SS approval in respect of mechanical security, this makes absolutely no sense.

          Insurance Companies are in business to make money and if logic has anything to do with things, would choose the severest and best testing methods to assure them of the physical security of items that they insure against theft. I am assuming that there’s a technical reason, but for obvious reasons the details aren’t easy to come by. The preference of SS over Thatcham in respect of mechanical security must surely be because the latter is considered less secure. I understand that SS test procedures are becoming increasingly stringent, so that older locks that passed a particular security rating (e.g. Bicycle Gold) tested in earlier years may no-longer pass the same rating in subsequent years.

          Please prove me wrong. I enjoy being proved wrong because I learn in the process.

      • reuben 13/10/2011 at 9:04 pm #

        I borrowed a friend’s knackered old mountain bike to go home on. It really was very knackered; rusty, flaking paint and grease oozing out of various bearings.

        As I had no lock and had to leave it outside I took the big blue (guaranteed) motorcycle lock off my motorbike, which had a steering lock and needed a key after all, and locked the mountain bike to a 30 foot lamppost. This is in the middle of an empty quayside under a big light, clearly visible from the road and within earshot of the boat where I was sleeping. In the morning the mountain bike had gone. All that remained were a few scraps of blue plastic from around the lock.

        The lock was worth several times more than the bike. Sadly it was second hand so I didn’t have the insurance. But I still had the motorbike.

    • Anthony 28/03/2011 at 3:31 pm #


      I got one with a 2m chain for £47 – locks frame and both wheels. Has Silver Sold Secure rating. Good luck!

  40. jules lost in london 05/03/2011 at 10:56 pm #

    my first properly bought grown up bike (ridgeback speed) was taken from outside work – chained up just off the harrow road. i cried. a lot.
    police sent me a crime ref number but that’s all – i checked the bike shops and said that if they got offered it to take it and get in touch with me.
    there’s a massive market around the harrow road for bikes, and i’ve had the reassurance of seeing some kids on bikes that clearly aren’t theirs (i.e ladies new hybrids, or really top spec road bikes) being stopped by the community police teams and being asked to prove they own the bikes.
    i sometimes have to lock mine in some of the nastier bits of camden and always worry about it, but try to make it as difficult as possible to take. One of my neighbours had her bike stolen from our communal hall when the shop downstairs left the door open. they’d had a go at mine (bent the hanger a bit) so now my bike lives inside my flat. given that it’s a small studio this isn’t ideal but i know it’s safe.


  41. Davide Baroncelli 06/03/2011 at 2:41 am #

    At the beginning of February I had my Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Alu Carbon stolen from the railing outside a gym in Endell Street where it was locked. I immediately reported it, but the police didn’t really do anything. The frustrating thing is that after I posted an ad on GumTree asking for info, the thieves called me offering me my bicycle back for £400: but I couldn’t organize a meeting on that night, and lost the possibility to turn up with a policeman (assuming police would have followed me on this). A couple of days later the bike appeared on GumTree, but again the police didn’t follow me when I asked them to do anything. Disappointing.

  42. Mary Westmacott 06/03/2011 at 11:13 am #

    I had my Bike stolen a couple of times, but since then I’ve had mine marked with a serial number in case it gets nicked again, Best place to start looking is the local cycle shops, carboot sales, and ebay if you lose yours, best of luck, M x

  43. Steve 06/03/2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Once, cycling to a train station, I was hit by a car, damaging my front wheel sufficiently to make the bike impossible to ride. I, somehow, was unhurt.
    So I locked it at the station.
    On my return, that evening, I found the bike gone (despite the damage). I immediately spoke to the station security (who were very difficult to locate), and was told that although they had cctv cameras overlooking the bike racks, they were never used. I quote ‘yeah, we get a lot of bikes stolen from here, nothing I can do about it mate, better leave your bike at home’
    It was quite a day. Fortunately I had insurance.

  44. Nicki 06/03/2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Three in my life so far. The last one was taken from my locked wooden garage. Some of the planks had been removed from the doors and my (unlocked) bike was lifted over my car and removed! The same weekend, my partner’s bike was stolen from Waterloo Station. That was 6 or 7 years ago – we’ve moved since then, and the bikes live in the utility part of the house, part of our reason for buying it! Many years before that, I’d cycled from the city to a smarter part of London – can’t remember if it was Eaton Square or South Ken – and chained my bike to the railings outside a block of flats. That vanished within a few hours.

  45. Michael 07/03/2011 at 12:39 am #

    There’s a Twitter called Stolen Bikes London. Follow it here: http://twitter.com/StolenBikesLond

    If your bicycle is stolen, please tweet details of what, when, where @StolenBikesLond

    Also be sure and let the police know by email cycletaskforce@met.police.uk

    And before you get your bicycle stolen, register it at http://www.immobilise.com and get it security marked.

  46. Amoeba 07/03/2011 at 5:48 am #

    Luckily, so far, I’ve never had a bike stolen, but I am particularly nervous of theft. I live on the edges of a large city in a fairly low-crime area, but I only use Sold-Secure Gold locks*. Some areas nearby are notorious for bike theft. I always lock my bikes and the most valued are secured to ground anchors.

    Mostly I use smallish U-locks and some boron-steel chains and high security padlocks.

    I am also careful about locking techniques and where I leave my bikes.

    The bikes are recorded, marked and registered with various anti-theft databases.

    I realise I may just have been lucky.

  47. John 07/03/2011 at 7:06 pm #


    I use a Kryptonite evolution D lock on my bike with an Abbus bracelet type lock, to date I have never had a bike stolen.
    With regards to CCTV on bikes – I use over 80 CCTV cameras where I work and I would not consider them of any use at all –
    1/ The police will not use any evidence from the cameras unless I download it for them, and then it has to be clear and obvious to be considered, otherwise it is rejected.
    2/ You can have an hours worth of footage of a teenager in a hooded jacket pinching your bike, but you or nobody else knows who they are.
    3/ Even in broad daylight without a hood if someone is pinching your bike, what are the chances of anybody knowing who it is?
    4/ All CCTV will do for you if your lucky is to give you a picture of your bike being nicked.

    Get 2 good quality locks and lock it to something substanial, a lot of the cases on here are people using cable locks and using communal hallways or shared areas that lose their bikes.
    You can’t rely on cheap locks and others to make sure they lock the door after them because you left your bike in there.


  48. Robin 08/03/2011 at 7:45 pm #

    I put my bike, a Sun, cost £5, outside the church youth club, didn’t use a lock. Went inside, enjoyed the evening, came out and my pride and joy had gone. Searched around the town, couldn’t find it and contacted the police.

    Heard nothing for about eight weeks. My parents got a call from the police, they had found the bike plus several others. The thieves were prosecuted. The bike was a bit scratched but very usable.Of course this was in 1963!

  49. Tim 09/03/2011 at 11:40 am #

    My Specialized Rockhopper was stolen yesterday in Brentwood, Essex. I’ve always been really careful in London where I live and never leave it outside, even locked up for extended periods. Bike was locked up to a pole outside my office right in front of a window where colleagues of mine were sitting at their computers. Unfortunately the pole was too thick to fit the u-lock around so I only had a cable securing the frame. The thieves just walked up to the bike at midday right in front of people at work, snipped the cable with bolt cutters and ran off with it. My colleagues came to get me and by the time I’d run out to catch them they’d run off with it. They would have had to carry it as the u lock was still locked to the back wheel and frame. I didn’t take down the serial number and I rang Evans to see if they had the serial number on record and they said they don’t keep them on record. Not really in the business interest to do so is it? The police have been really good but because I don’t know the serial number I can’t make a statement as to my bike being stolen which I assume means I can’t even get it back if they find it. So some school boy errors there that I won’t make again if I get another bike.

    • Amoeba 09/03/2011 at 6:06 pm #

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Cable locks are just too vulnerable. I think they’re only suitable for short-term use, like outside a shop. But even then, they’re a liability. They really are not to be relied upon in risky areas.

      In my experience, the serial number isn’t normally recorded. It’s normally down to the new owner.
      It certainly wasn’t the recorded with Claud Butler, Dahon, Scott, Pashley. The only exception was my Azor, Velorution put the serial number on the receipt.

    • Will 11/03/2011 at 9:15 pm #

      I had the same problem with Evans. They suggested it could be in the green handbook, but was at the discretion of the mechanic checking the bike.

      • Amoeba 12/03/2011 at 6:37 am #

        My son bought a Scott Sportster from Evans and the serial number was not recorded by the shop. It is now accompanied by a print-out of the bicycle information file which includes: frame number; new components Dynamo wheel; Dynamo lights – make & model; Lock and key numbers; other accessories; immobilise registration numbers.

        IIRC, that the Police have caught a ‘thief’ with almost certainly stolen bikes , but that because the bikes haven’t been reported as stolen, the bikes have to be returned to the thief.

        The moral of the story is always to:
        Record your bikes serial number; photograph it; record the accessories you fit; keep the receipt; register it with immobilise; mark it (etching); and if it’s stolen REPORT it!

        • Amoeba 12/03/2011 at 6:46 am #

          You might as well also register it with http://www.bikeregister.com/ they also do marking kits.

          That way there’s more chance of the bike being returned.

        • Tim 12/03/2011 at 10:51 am #

          That’s most likely to be true. The officer ‘investigating’ the theft of my bike, and I’m using that term loosely, said she cannot take a statement from me without the serial number as I did not see the crime committed and I cannot prove that I’ve had anything stolen! So I imagine, that even if they or I found it I could not get it back. I have a recent photo and the receipts but I have a horrible feeling the thief would still get to keep my bike without me producing the serial number.

          But to be honest I think the police just don’t want the statistic. My colleague witnessed the thief in the act of cutting the cable with bolt cutters and could give a pretty accurate description of the thiefs. Another colleague saw the two thiefs in the car they used to escape in minutes prior to the theft and could probably give a good description of the car. Do you think the police are interested? No. The theft occurred on Tuesday and they’ve still not come down to my workplace to take statements etc, although they said they would on Wed. I even went to the police station myself to give a statement and they turned me away saying they were short staffed. Is there some way I can escalate this? It’s almost as upsetting to know the police have no interest in catching them as it was to have it stolen.

          Lastly. Does anyone not think it strange that bike shops are not required by law to record the serial number? Could you imagine a car dealership not recording the chassis / engine number of a car they sold? It just seems crazy that with all these initiatives to prevent bike theft that one little detail, one extra piece of data in a database is not recorded?


  50. Kathyn 10/03/2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Last year I stumbled across a police stand where they were giving bikes serial numbers and registering them with immobilise.
    I’ve now got a new bike I would like to do this with – any ideas how I can get it sorted?

    • Amoeba 10/03/2011 at 5:09 pm #


      Bikes are marked with a frame / serial number by the manufacturer.
      AFAIK, the Police only normally mark (stamp?) bikes with Post Code and house number. Some time ago the British Transport Police were giving away free immobitags but owners needed to provide their details and those of their bikes, so the Police were registering bikes as a part of the process, for free. Anyone can buy security stickers and an electronic tag (immobitags) from immobilise and register their bike with immobilise. See http://www.immobilise.com/ for details.

      It’s best to record the bike’s frame / serial number* (some have both) without delay, (I recommend photographing the numbers as part of your records), along with the make and model and accessories, photograph it and keep the receipt and all the details safe.

      Registering with immobilise is free, register the bike and then order some holographic stickers or an immobitag if one so wishes wish but it will be necessary to update the bike’s registration with these new identifiers, (it’s very easy). Then contact one’s local Crime Prevention Officer and ask when the next post-coding session is scheduled. Alternatively, contact local cycle groups near home or work / college and ask if there are any post-coding sessions planned.

      I have to admit that none of our bikes are post-coded. I am concerned that it might damage the bike. I’ve heard that stamping can damage the paintwork / invalidate the warranty, but this may be wrong.

      Obviously post-code stamping may not be appropriate for some frame materials. My assumptions follow:
      I assume it is NOT OK for Carbon-frames.
      I have concerns about whether it’s suitable for Aluminium frames, (I assume NOT).
      Steel should be OK, but if it’s an expensive frame, CHECK first.
      As for Titanium, I haven’t a clue – I wouldn’t do it out of fear.

      The answer must be that it’s best to check with the bike’s manufacturer and only proceed if they say “yes stamping is OK and will not invalidate the warranty” in WRITING.
      It is possible to use a UV marker, but the marking isn’t permanent and needs to be renewed periodically.
      Microdots / smart water are other possibilities.

      Does anyone have practical experience of better marking systems?

      Good luck!

      E&OE Please don’t blame me if it all goes horribly wrong!

      *The serial number on my wife’s Pashley Princess is on a holographic sticker and it was terribly difficult to read. Curiously the Pashley has a frame number as well, stamped into the frame.

      • Amoeba 12/03/2011 at 6:43 am #

        I forgot. There’s also a Police approved indelible etching process, from http://www.bikeregister.com/.

        • tems 13/06/2011 at 1:52 pm #

          i have that but unless the police find the bike then its useless..

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