If you’ve not yet had your bike stolen then please see: How to get your bike stolen.
Getting your bike stolen is never a nice experience. However, the next steps you take will greatly improve your chances of recovering your bike. Ideally, take these steps as soon as possible.
Report the bike to the police
If you’ve got bike insurance, then you’ll need to report the theft within 24 hours of discovery. The crime reference number the police will give you, combined with a receipt for your bike will help you make a claim.
Whilst only 4% of bikes are recovered, it’s important that the police have accurate figures so they can allocate resources to fight bike crime.
In London it may also be worth reporting the theft to the Cycle Task Force. Ideally, attach a picture of your stolen bike.
Report the theft to Bike Shepherd
Bike Shepherd will help you get the word out about your stolen bike so their community members will keep an eye out for it. You can register with their site here.
Report the theft to your insurer
It’s better to let your bicycle insurance company know as soon as possible about your bike theft. It takes a while for claims to be processed and you don’t want to be away from the bike for too long.
Track down your stolen bike
Update: A new website I was not previously aware of is: http://bikefinder.stolen-bikes.co.uk/ – this allows you to setup email alerts for your bike details and also to view new listings. It works across the UK.
If you are not in London, then keep an eye on Gumtree and eBay as you bike may appear for sale there. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on Craigslist.
Let others know about the theft
You will need to list details of your theft somewhere. I recommend Bike Shepherdwhich will provide you with a listing page and a way for people to contact you. Alternatively you can easily setup a Tumblr or forum post. Make sure you include a picture of your bike.
You can then share this link around on your Facebook and Twitter. You can also post it to forums such as lfgss.com.
Contact local bike shops that sell second hand bikes
The LCC maintain a list of bike shops in London that sell second hand bikes. Find the bike shops near you and let them know the details of the stolen bike.
Put up flyers
This is a completely optional step but it could help with the recovery of your bike.
What to do if you spot your stolen bike for sale
There are plenty of stories of people who recover their stolen bike by spotting it for sale on the internetand then confronting the seller. This can be dangerous and it is not generally advisable.
If you find yourself in this scenario, then contact the seller of the bike via text message and arrange a meeting. Then, contact the police and tell them where you’ll be meeting the thief.
Note that the police don’t have the automatic authority to pose as buyers, but they can act on information about a thief.
In particular, speak to the Cycle Task Force. They have the experience in these scenarios that other police departments unfortunately do not.