10 things to do if your bike’s been stolen!

Last Updated on January 14, 2024 59 Comments

So your bike’s been stolen. I know, I know. But resist the urge to put your fist through a wall or collapse in a tearful heap. Instead, pull yourself together and get on with the following 10 steps.

A bike being stolen

You're not alone: 50% of us will have our bikes stolen at some point

They can help you get your bike back. Even if they don’t, at least you’ll know you did everything you possibly 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 should include all your receipts, the make, model and serial number, a full description of your bike and a few photos. Now is the time when it really comes in useful.

So here are ten things you should do right now if your bike's been stolen...

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, include where and when your bike was stolen and ask people to share.

Stolen Bikes UK twitter feed

Loads of social media channels will publicize your stolen bike

There’s 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 AlertStolen Bikes UKStolen 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 local services in the US, but BikeWatchNYC is trying to do 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 schemes that keep track of bicycles, now’s the time to log in and tell them that your bike’s been stolen.

And if you haven't already registered, don't worry: you can still add your bike after a theft. Simply create an account and add the make, model, serial number and any other information you have.

The big ones are Bike Register (UK), Bike Index (US and International) and  529 Garage (US).

If you live in the UK, then Bike Register is the first place you should register your bicycle. It's free. And every police force in the country uses their database.

(Bike Register: every police force in the UK uses their database)

So if your bike is recovered by the police (and nearly 50% of stolen bikes are), if it's in the Bike Register database, you're almost certain to get it back.

Once you report your bike as stolen with Bike Register, it will automatically send out a tweet to their social media following to further publicize the theft.

Bike Index

Bike Index: the worlds largest bicycle registration and recovery scheme

I can also highly recommend Bike Index, which is the most widely used bicycle registration and recovery service in the world and should certainly be your first choice if you live in the US.

It's free to register your bike. They're very active on social media, automatically publicizing your stolen bike on all their various channels.

Bike Index stolen bicycle alert

Bike Index stolen bicycle alerts

And they also have a promoted alerts service that will generate Facebook ads that specifically target cyclists (and other people who are likely to be sympathetic), in your area, alerting them to be on the lookout for your bike.

It's important to tell these schemes as soon as your bike is stolen. Then 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 organizations, do it now. All you need is the make, model and serial number of your bike.

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.

3. 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 just 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!

Filing a report 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.

4. 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!

5. 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

OnGuard and Kryptonite offer "anti-theft protection" schemes that are similar to insurance

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.

6. Check ebay, Gumtree, craigslist

Check out the listings on ebayGumtree 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 “Set search alert” button. And on Craigslist it’s a “save search” link.

ebay search

Set up alerts on sites that are used to sell stolen bikes

And from then on, you should get an email every day 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 probably 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 probably shouldn't go down there to try and reclaim your bike yourself either. Any sort of confrontation could easily escalate into something very nasty.

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!

7. 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

Stolen bikes are often sold around street markets

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

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

8. 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.

9. 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!

10. 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 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 hopefully you’ve got insurance.

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 an easy way to get back riding 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 you're buying a second hand bike, be extra vigilant. Insist on seeing receipts. Check the serial number using Bike Index or Bike Register.

But it’s usually pretty obvious when someone's 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. 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 do is prepare for the eventuality. And 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.

More Good Stuff:

How to lock your bike

How to lock your bike (properly)

Win a Free Bike!

Win a Free Bike!

Bike Storage Ideas

18 Sensible Bike Storage Ideas

About the author 

Carl Ellis

I've had bikes stolen in London, New York and Barcelona. Yep, I was a serial, international, bike theft victim. In 2015 I decided to stop the rot. And not a single bike's been stolen since! Brakes, yes. Bells, yes. But they're another story. Everything I learn, I document on this website. More about my story. Contact me. LinkedIn.

  • Hi,
    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.

  • 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?

    • Go to a bicycle shop that has been established in the area for a long time and see if they have used bicycles of the same quality you were used to riding in other words if you are riding a touring bicycle touring bicycle or if you’re riding a mountain bike mountain bicycles they are most likely to check the serial numbers when they come into the store and ask for personal information when someone sells them at used bike

  • 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

    • 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!

  • 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 ;(

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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 🙁

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

  • 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 🙁

    • 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.

  • 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 .

  • 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

  • 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.


  • 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…

  • 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

  • My bike was stolen on Oct 10 2019 from the bike parking area right outside the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza in New York. I have contacted NYPD 78 Pct. and spoke to library security, but so far it was of no avail. The library has cctv but they aren’t keen on reviewing the footage and they wouldn’t let anyone see it unless they get a subpoena. Specialized Elite Sirrus 27 speed bike.

  • My bicycle was lost on October 30 to 31st 2019. I think that’s maybe because of HALLOWEEN, and people who are trick or treating might have taken my bicycle. It’s a light blue Roadmaster Bicycle, which is about 180 dollars, 24 inch. It’s lost in Jersey City, and i’m really sad because i don’t know my bikes serial number!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT SHOULD I DO?? SOMEONE PLEASE HELP! AND KEEP A WATCH FOR ANY ROADMASTER BLUE BICYCLES!

  • my bike was stolen few day ago , i doesn’t know .this women bike , purple color if some one see it . please call 226 240 8938 ỏr email

  • hello there. my name is mohmabd and I am a local bike theft. I previously stole a bike from a lady named Diane and now I am wanted by Cops. What do I do?

  • Hello guys my cycle was stolen on 2 February 2020 at 8 30 pm.
    My cycle has a damaged disc brake and very special type of mudguards . If you even found it then please kindly report to me. I’m from raebareli UP India. My cycle was Avon neowave all blue with white strips and especially my cycle don’t have a chain cover. Please report if you find it anywhere.

  • hey I had a rei 1.3 I say army green bike that got stolr in October or September i got green grips and green pedals and it had expensive accessories on it. In all I spent on the bike and accessories are abt 2-$3,000 maybe even more.

  • Hi everyone, my bike was stolen on 6/15/20. It was a black recumbent bike with side handlebar and side mirrors. My cycle was specially purchased for me so I can restart being active after my very evasive back surgery which hasn’t allowed me to exercise or be active at all. I can no longer run and I’m not able to ride a traditional bicycle. I’m in constant pain and this bike was helping me relieve some of that pain. I had just purchased two weeks earlier. This was EXTREMELY heartbreaking for me! I can’t afford to buy another one and given our current situation in this country, it was just another blow to already stressful situation.

  • My bike was stolen yesterday,it’s actually a tri bike that I made. It’s been with us for over 15 years,it may not be that valuable but it definitely is in good condition and it’s the only one in Edmonton,Alberta Canada. It has a sentimental value for my family. I still hope I can have it back.

  • My bike was stolen last night, 8/5/2020. It is a Trek 7500 Fx hybrid with vector wheels, presta valves, clip-in pedals, and a cat eye computer. Also had a gel padded seat cover. It was stolen between 7:30-8pm from the Safeway at SE 136th and SE Mill Plain, in Vancouver, WA USA. It was locked to the bike rack. There were 2 other bikes on the neighboring bike rack. I think it was a targeted theft, which makes it even worse than if it were a transient/homeless person. I’m so angry and definitely afraid to buy and have another bike stolen.

      • It was not a good lock. I even thought about grabbing a second lock before I left. But I incorrectly felt the quick 25 min in Safeway wouldn’t be a problem. I am very sad and won’t use a crappy lock again. That is for sure. I will also probably use 3 locks at a time because I hope no thief has time to dink around with 3 separate locks without people noticing.

        • Yep, once bitten twice shy eh!

          But be careful you don’t go too far the other way. If you lock your bike with a crappy cable lock there’s a very good chance it will be stolen, even in the 25 mins you’re in Safeway.

          But you probably don’t need 3 locks (that are going to weigh you down and be a pain to lock and unlock every time you leave your bike) to stop that happening again.

          One (or two) decent locks will do the job, and shouldn’t make using your bike more difficult.

  • My bike was recently stolen in Concord, California. It was a specialized bluish black bike that I was really attached to. Luckily I had the serial number and I filed a police report so there’s still hope. Stay strong everyone who’s got their bike stolen, you can get thru this

  • Hi my shed was broken into 2 nights ago and my pretty well new hardly used mongoose mushaboom fat tire bike was stolen it had a few add ons and i got compliments on it a few times, it was such a cool bike. My wife and i where just about to start going for rides as she also has a bike in the same condition and the weather is just starting to cool off, it is a very sad event and i can not understand how people can be so cruel as to put another person through this.

  • Large mini bike white frame green oversized tires 20+8+8 front fender bent to fit red pull cord cover right foot pedal broken fix no weld

  • My 30-month old Carrera Crossfuse was stolen this afternoon (6 September 2021). A warm sunny day in Manchester, UK. So, after lunch, I thought I would cycle into Manchester and work on my laptop, sitting outside Starbucks in the sun, having a coffee. It was stolen within 2 hours.

    I started cycling 20 years ago. I’m a retired guy, an ex-motorist. And, being older, an electric bike has made the world of difference.

    Since I started cycling, believe it or not, I have had 14 bikes stolen (not counting wheels stolen!). They have ranged from cheap bikes bought at an auction (of police bikes unable to be returned to their owners!) upwards. The most expensive losses were bikes costing around £150. But nothing like the £1800 my Carrera cost!

    I put a stop to the thefts by investing in a motorbike lock system.. very heavy chain combined with powerful padlocks.

    But who decided today to pop into Manchester using a combination of relatively lighter chains… and a quasi-rubber thing. Dummy!

    I have a Christian faith… and the faith doesn’t tell me to pray for its return or to ask God to protect it. No sir. The faith tells me in effect to hold possessions very lightly. And not to seek their return. (We have better treasures waiting elsewhere).

    So why am I posting this?

    Because I have a human side that doesn’t like being robbed. Also to ‘get it off my chest’.

    And my faith is helping me surf the loss, Looking at my finances, there’s just no way I can replace an electric bike. (I’m a pensioner; active, yes! healthy, yes! but not well off).

    And I’m having to learn to be thankful in all situations. So… I am accepting this (albeit somewhat sulkily) as a test. It’s putting my first world consumerism in perspective. After all, I’m not in Afghanistan, thankfully.

    Things could be a whole lot worse. And, after all, an electric bike is ultimately just that; a thing. Albeit a nice one.

    Thanks for reading (and helping me get the hurt off my chest!)

    • Here’s an update. (28 March 2023).

      Well, I got over the loss.

      Now I have a new e-bike. I’ve had it for almost 18 months. It’s not as good as the one that went walkies… having a rear hub-drive as compared to the Bosch centre-crank drive. Doesn’t do quite as many miles… and the rear hub-drive takes a bit of getting used to when setting off from traffic lights.

      You should see the locks I have!

      Three Kryptonite gold standard locks!!! 2 locks with chains and one D-lock with a long, snaking flexible cord.

      I try to hold my possessions lightly (sometimes not easy… but then, I’m human!). The bike theft was a salutary reminder of the transience of material possessions. I’ve wound down my expenditure on things since. (The pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis has helped).

      Thanks, Carl, for your kind comments. It’s kind of reassuring to know there’s at least one other serial bike theft victim out there.

      Thanks for your site!

  • My bike was stolen from a residential property from a locked shed. The bike was strapped with two fasteners. Earlier I left the bike for people for safekeeping and then when I came to pick it up, another person lived there who said that, she had bought this house and said that the bike was not there. What to do in such a situation? Is there any chance to get the bike back?

  • How to check if a bike is stolen when you want to resort to second-hand bikes to cut costs, while not compromising bike quality. First, you should:  Read and inspect the seller’s information. The seller’s information is the number one factor in knowing whether you are dealing with a stolen bike. Another way to determine a stolen bike is through a bike serial number check is usually found on the bicycle’s bottom, below the pedals, and bottom bracket or   if you are highly suspicious of the seller, check the bike if it underwent repainting.

  • In the bike room of my apartment, all my bikes except one were stolen. The bikes were locked up at stands and whoever stole them cut the bike locks to steal them. I saw they were gone just yesterday and I don’t know who went into the room most recently but I remember the last time I used my bike was around August or September. The last time I may have seen it may have been in October but I don’t remember exactly. I don’t have any pictures of my bike but it was gray, blue, and black, it was adult size, it had two brakes: one on each handle, and it had a number dial on one of the handles that you could change for different surfaces and speed. I would like people to know what my bike and everyone else’s looks like and where they could have gone so they can maybe get recovered. I want to know from my receipt and manual I got from first buying my bike so I can know the name, size, colors, and serial number of it.

  • Had my brand new electric bike stolen today. Had ridden it 4.5 miles to work. Heartbroken. Can’t afford another one.

  • My friend locked his bike around a metal street pole yesterday in a very public area where you would not think that anyone would be bold enough to steal it and where we could check by the window to see that it was still safe within a few minutes later we looked through the window and saw a guy on a motor bike acting suspiciously by looking at my friends bike but at a distance and when he noticed we were watching he rode off and when we looked again within 5 minutes the bike had been stolen! It has devastated my friend and myself but we know thst the police will not be able to do anything because these thieves know all the tricks so we have to all club together and get another one for my friend it a horrible experience.

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