9 things to do AFTER your bike’s stolen!

So your bike’s been stolen. I know, I know. But resist the urge to put your fist through a wall or collapse in tearful heap. Instead, pull yourself together and get on with the following 9 steps.

A bike being stolen

They can help you get your bike back. Even if they don’t, at least you’ll know you did everything you could! And if you need to buy a new bike, they’ll make that a bit easier too.

Hopefully you’ve already done the 7 things to do BEFORE your bike’s stolen and you have a file of information on your bike. (If you haven’t and you’ve still got a bike do them now!)

This file includes all your receipts, the make, model and serial number, a full description and a few photos. Now is the time when it really comes in useful…

1. Alert social media

Get the word out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, Grindr, whatever! Put all your bike’s details on your social media feeds, include where and when your bike was stolen and ask people to share.

Stolen Bikes UK twitter feed

There’s actually loads of websites and social media profiles that have been specifically set up to help you here. Let them know your bike’s been stolen and they’ll send out tweets to their followers who will keep their eyes peeled for your bike. So what are these sites?

In the UK there’s Stolen Bike Alert, Stolen Bikes UK, Stolen Ride London and probably several more local to you. Google is your friend here. Search for “stolen bike alert [where you live]”.

There’s not so many in the US, but BikeWatchNYC is trying to a similar things in New York. Let me know if you’ve got any other good ones and I’ll add them here.

2. List your bike as stolen

If you’ve already registered your bike with the various online organisations that keep track of bicycles (such as Bike Index, the National Bike Registry and the National Cycle Database), now’s the time to log in and tell them that your bike’s been stolen.

They may have Twitter feeds and Facebook pages that will publicize the theft. But more importantly, their databases will be updated so that if the police recover the bike, or anyone is offered the bike (and they check the serial number), they’ll see that it’s your stolen bike.

If you haven’t already registered with one of these organisations, it’s not too late. You can still add the details after a theft. Simply create an account and add the make, model, serial number and any other information you have.

You do know your serial number don’t you? If not and you’ve still got a bike, go and find it now. It will only take 5 minutes and will save you a load of problems and possibly a lot of money later on.

2. Report the theft to the police

File a police report as soon as possible. This is really important. You might not have insurance. You might think the police will do nothing. You might think it’s a waste of time.

Police recovered bike store
San Francisco’s vast recovered stolen bike warehouse

But the fact is that almost half of stolen bikes are eventually recovered by the police. And the only reason that only 5% of stolen bikes are returned to their owners is that the police can’t link the bikes to the owners.

But if they recover a stolen bike and you’ve filed a report with a serial number, they’ll link it to you and you’ll get your bike back!

It will also give the police a more accurate picture of the extent of bike theft where you live so that hopefully they’ll be able to allocate more resources to it.

So collect all the information you have on your bike. Hopefully that includes the make, model and serial number, some photographs and a detailed description. And either give your local police station a call or go down there in person.

You must do this as soon as your bike’s been stolen. Your insurance policy probably stipulates that you file a police report within 24 hours. And certainly both Kryptonite and OnGuard’s “anti-theft protection” require you to report the theft to the police within 72 hours.

You’ll need to give them some personal details, which will typically include your name, gender, date of birth, some contact information and a mailing address.

And you’ll also tell them everything you know about the circumstances of the theft, including where, when, how and anything else that might be useful. For example, are there any CCTV cameras in the area that might show the theft?

In exchange they’ll give you a police report which is of course vital if you have insurance or you registered with one of the “anti-theft protection” programs from Kryptonite or OnGuard.

3. File an insurance claim

Hopefully you’ve got some sort of insurance policy. Either you’re covered by your household insurance. Or you have specialized bicycle insurance.

Get in touch with them by phone as soon as you have the police report. They’ll require the same information you gave the police plus the crime reference number from the police report and your receipts of purchase.

Again, do this as soon as your bikes been stolen. Most insurance companies will stipulate that you need to at least alert them of the theft within a certain amount of time. And of course the sooner you file a report, the sooner you’ll have a new bike!

4. Report it to Kryptonite or OnGuard

If you’re registered with either the Kryptonite or OnGuard “anti-theft protection” scheme and your bike was secured with their lock when it was stolen, then you should make a claim.

OnGuard vs Kryptonite

Make sure you do so within seven days of the theft and include all the necessary information. I go through everything you need to do here.

5. Check ebay, Gumtree, craigslist

Check out the listings on ebay, Gumtree and craigslist. Thieves will often try to sell stolen bikes through these sites. But a bike probably won’t be listed as soon as it’s stolen. So the easiest way to keep an eye on the adverts is to set up alerts.

With all three sites you’ll need to register so that they can send you emails (don’t worry, it’s free). Then search for the make and model of your bike and save the search criteria so that any new listings are sent to you via email.

How to set up alerts

How do you save your search? With ebay just look for the “follow this search” option at the top of the search results. On Gumtree there’s a pretty obvious “Set search alert” button. And on craigslist it’s a “save search” link.

ebay search

And from then on, you should get an email everyday with any new listings that match the make and model of your bike within the geographical area that you specified in your search!

Getting your bike back

So what do you do if your bike comes up in a listing? You definitely shouldn’t accuse the seller via email or phone. You could be wrong. And if you’re right, they’ll simply get rid of the bike before you can do anything else.

You definitely shouldn’t go and buy your bike back from them either! Bizarre as it sounds, I’ve heard of people doing just that. But it obviously stinks of defeat and will only encourage further thievery.

You should probably avoid going down there to reclaim your bike yourself too. Any sort of confrontation could easily escalate into something very nasty.

No, the sensible thing to do is contact the police. They will advise you of the best course of action. And hopefully they’ll even come down and sort the situation out themselves!

6. Check the flea markets and pawn shops!

Many towns and cities have informal areas where stolen bikes are traded. You probably already know where they are in your neighborhood. If you don’t, ask around.

Brick Lane bike market

In London for example, Brick Lane market is notorious as the place to go to buy or sell stolen bikes. I’m not sure what it’s like these days but it used to be a very blatant thieves bazaar.

Again, if you spot your bike it’s best to contact the police rather than try to sort the situation out yourself.

7. Let your local bike shops know

Pass all the information you’ve got on your bike to your local bike shops. It makes it so much easier for them to spot something suspicious if they’ve already got their eyes peeled for a bike like yours.

8. Put up posters

Maybe this is a last resort. But putting up posters in your local area will reach a whole load of people that the other steps won’t. Maybe someone’s seen or heard something. It’s worth a shot!

9. Buy a new bike

One of the most depressing statistics that I’ve come across regarding bike theft is that of the 50% of us that have bikes stolen, 66% cycle less and 25% give up cycling altogether!

Don’t be one of those statistics. If all else fails and your bike isn’t recovered, it’s time to get a new one! You have to keep riding. I know that it’s gut wrenchingly upsetting when your bike is stolen, but we can’t let the thieves win.

Get a new bike. Get a better lock. Make sure you know how to lock your bike properly. Don’t let it happen again. Bicycle security is all about finding the right balance of security and convenience. So readjust the balance.

Now obviously this is going to cost money. But if your bike was so expensive that you can’t replace it easily with the money in your bank account, then you’ve probably got insurance, right?

Buying a stolen bike

I know that when I’ve had bikes stolen in the past and I’ve been short on cash, I’ve been tempted to buy a stolen bike myself. Obviously it’s a easy way to get back on a bike for a cheap price.

Resist this temptation! It goes without saying that you’re only perpetuating the whole sorry mess. If everyone stopped buying stolen bikes then bike theft would virtually disappear overnight.

Instead, if your buying a second hand bike, be extra vigilant. Insist on seeing receipts. Check the serial number using Bike Index, Bike Register or Check that Bike.

But it’s usually pretty obvious when someones selling a stolen bike. If it’s unusually cheap. If he won’t meet you at home. If he’s double shifty. You know it’s stolen. Don’t buy it!

Discounts for theft victims!

I’ll end on a heart warming note here. State Bicycles have a stolen bike policy that will give you $100 (or equivalent) off one of their bikes if you send them a police report filed in the last 90 days.

You can buy online and there are stores that sell their bikes all over the world. I think that’s a pretty nice offer. It would be great to see other businesses doing similar things!

Wrapping up

Having your bike stolen is a proper bummer. And unfortunately it will probably happen to most of us over the course of our cycling lifetime.

The best thing we can can do is to prepare for the eventuality. And then when it happens, do everything we can to improve the chances of recovering our bikes.

The worst thing we can do is to stop riding.


25 thoughts on “9 things to do AFTER your bike’s stolen!

  • May 14, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    My bike was stolen this week. It was a yellow ladies Nishiki.
    I’ve had it for 35 years here in Brooklyn. I do not own a car.
    This is how I get around.
    I am quite sad about the whole thing.
    I loved that bike, and I think it loved me.

    It had a seated smiling Buddha sticker on the seat stem.
    If you see it. … it’s mine.
    THANK YOU for listening.

    • May 15, 2017 at 5:41 am

      I’m really sorry to hear that Lisa. 35 years is A LONG time to have one bike!

      • August 6, 2019 at 11:52 pm

        My name is mya and my bike just was stolen and I saved me money it was a green, black and grey mongoose. I really liked it and it was my only way of transportation.

    • February 2, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      Hi, mine was just stolen too. I built it up piece by piece. But I moved on found a decent deal on eBay and I might even live the new bike more. Hoping you find the same!

    • August 16, 2019 at 1:49 am

      So? Did you find your bike? I got a little sad reading this

  • December 5, 2017 at 3:46 am

    Hello my name is Clev, I work at the Wholefoods In Chealsea New York City, my bike was stolen it was locked up right across the street from me. I came back from my lunch break only to find it gone. I did file a police report. I was wondering where can I go to find a replacement bike to purchase or even a used one?

  • June 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    My ebike got stolden last night i onley had it for a few days but i am so sad cuz its my onley sorce of transportation to go to my dr appointment s everyday i am so sad i dont even want a nother one now

    • June 14, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      I’m really sorry to hear that Steven. Don’t give up yet though. With the information on this site, you can find a way to beat the thieves!

  • June 19, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Yah me to my 3500 specialized full suspension was stolen tonight and I am in Chippewa Wisconsin!!! I had it for 2-3 months and I love that bike. This is a first for me. I thought people were better than this hear ;(

    • March 5, 2019 at 4:39 am

      Had my carbon salsa bear grease stolen from my apt in eauclaire. Karma kills.

  • June 28, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    My bike was stolen it was navy green with a black seat, it also had a Cade’s cove sticker on the bike. As well as a yellow name “death” or”darth” on it

  • July 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Just a note compensation wise, I had my bike stolen while I was saying hi to a friend and you might be able to get a replacement through like insurance or even your credit card company. Check your account if they do buyer protection because if you paid for your bike with a credit card like I did, they may refund you the cost of the bike (mine does return/replacement of things bought with the card). They don’t do vehicles but they will do bikes, so try looking into that as well.

  • July 17, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    My bike was stolen in front of my home. It was locked to the iron gate no more than two hours in daylight and there are evident saw cuts in the iron that idicate power saw usage. The lock was a nyc kryptonite lock. I have the bike fixed with pinheads so it will be difficult for them to disassemble it save a proper suzed drill to get them out.
    Totally gutted. Love that bike and worse it is from in front of my home.
    Filed a police report, have/gave serial number. Not much else I can do except wonder if it is the neighbors or someone on the street.

    • July 17, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      Sorry to hear that Bo! Doesn’t sound there was much more you could have done really. If they’re using power tools then it’s only a matter of time 🙁

      • July 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm

        Thanks, Carl. No I couldn’t, just sad that there are meanies like that out there… Boo on them! Trying to keep positive!

  • August 6, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    My 16yr old daughter’s bike was stolen from the back yard of a rental beach house last week while we were on vacation in Atlantic City, NJ. She’s had it for 4 years and took amazing care of it. We filed a police report (thankfully had the serial number from the bike shop where we got it), but she’s still completely distraught. Fingers crossed they might find it. It wasn’t crazy expensive still but a nice Trek mountain bike. There were 4 other bikes back there, including another newer Trek but hers was the only one swiped 🙁

    • August 13, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Sorry to hear that Julie 🙁

      Make sure you regsiter the bike with Bike Index. You can do this even though it’s already been stolen.

      Then, if it turns up anywhere, the police will be able to find you through Bike Index. Plus prospective buyers will be able to check the Bike Index database to see if the bike they’ve just been offered is stolen.

  • August 25, 2018 at 2:20 am

    A desperate soul stole my blue Walmart bike from Parkview Ave. In Pittsburgh. I paid $100 for that bike (Avalon) and put so many happy miles on it. Obviously it was not worth much, and it was a 7-gear bike that had the brakes hang up a bit. it was not fancy but it did the job of getting me around for fresh air and exercise. RIP royal blue Walmart bike .

  • October 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I had a $400 bike stolen in corpus Christi TX at the stripes on ocean dr and ennis Joslon rd. just this morning, it was a giant with flashlights in the front and a tool box in the back. it was bright green and grey/black. look for it

  • January 31, 2019 at 7:24 am

    I had a $500 PRIORITY BIKE stolen today from my work in LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA.

    It is GLOSS BLUE with BROWN Handel bars and it says PRIORTY BICYCLE on it in black and a belt drive.

    This was my only way of transportation.

    I’ve had this bike for almost five years and it’s myself and it’s like my baby we go everywhere on it.

    If anyone lives in CALIFORNIA and sees it and not notify me i would a appreciate it.


  • February 3, 2019 at 6:24 am

    My bike was stolen on 1 feb at 7.30pm ..pulsar Jk02AG2998 …FIR bhi krwaye hai but Janipur police officer no take any action… I am from Paloura top jammu. The name of a FIR person is Kamal kumar ..I am requesting to our Janipur police officer… Please take immediate action… Many CCTV cameras are available in this location… Please check CCTV cameras…

  • September 16, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    M my specialized carbon carbon fiber bike clip pedals was stolen out of my storage unit FYI it’s registered to me I don’t know where the paperwork is it’s been in my unit for a couple years now and I would like to get it known that is missing has been stolen and making a police report Jose’s filing a claim black and red specialized clip pedals


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