The most up-to-date bike theft statistics for the US come from three sources:
- FBI records of reported crimes in the United States (2019)
- A 529 Garage (the bicycle registration group) study in the US and Canada, 2019
- My own survey of over 5000 people, 2023 (see below)
While the FBI data accurately records reported bike thefts, we know that many stolen bikes are not reported to the police, so won’t appear in their numbers.
In contrast, the 529 Garage study is not restricted to crimes that were reported to the police, although it's not clear where their numbers come from.
None can be sure exactly what percentage of bike thefts go unreported, but we know it’s higher than the percentage that are reported.
In my own survey of over 5000 bike crime victims, 54% of them did not report the crime to the police.
Other surveys have found higher numbers: 80% of US bike theft victims didn’t report the crime to the police, according to the 529 Garage study.
This means that the problem is much worse than it appears from the numbers below! But with that is mind, let's get into the most up to date and surprising US bike theft statistics I could find in 2023:
How many bikes are stolen each year in the US?
An average of 175,200 bikes are reported stolen in the United States every year, according to data from the FBI. This number is calculated by working out the mean number of bicycle thefts over the last 5 years.
This means that a bike is stolen every 3 minutes in the US. Which is a lot of bike theft! And of course this is just the reported thefts. The actual numbers will be many times that.
Indeed, research by 529 Garage suggests that the actual number of bikes stolen (rather than just reported stolen), in the US and Canada every could be closer to 2 million.
Which is equivalent to one bike every 30 seconds!
The cities with the highest bike crime in the US include (somewhat predictably), New York and San Francisco!
What percentage of bike crimes are solved in the US?
Less than 5% of stolen bikes are returned to their owners, according to the study by 529 Garage.
This is hardly surprising, when we consider that their study also found that only 1 in 5 bike thefts are reported to the police, and less than 20% of victims knew their bike serial number.
These numbers are similar to those recorded in my own survey (see below).
It’s a vicious circle: the less stolen bikes are reported to the police, the lower the chance that bikes are recovered and reunited with their owners. But while the number of solved crimes are so low, there is very little incentive for victims to go through the hassle of reporting the crime.
And so it goes on.
Statistics on how bike crime affects people in the US
Of course, we shouldn’t forget that bike crime isn’t just about the loss of personal property. It can also affect the mental well-being of the victims.
The 529 Garage study also found that 25% of bike theft victims cycled less and 7% gave up cycling altogether.
These numbers are probably the most depressing and are very similar to those found in studies into bike theft statistics in the UK.
Are there any positive US bike crime statistics?!
The steady year-on-year decline in reported bike thefts in the US between 2015 and 2019 is a reason to be cheerful.
But we shouldn’t forget that these are just the reported thefts.
As discussed, not only will the actual numbers of stolen bikes in the US be much higher, they may even be increasing, and it’s just that fewer people are reporting the crime!
My Bike Theft Survey Results for US
How many times has your bike been stolen?
- 20% of American cyclists have never had their bike stolen
- 36% of American cyclists have had just one bike stolen
- 80% of American cyclists have had one or more bike stolen
- 7% of American cyclists have had 6 or more bikes stolen!
That such a large proportion (80%) of American cyclists have been the victim of bike theft on one or more occasion confirms what we already know: bike crime continues to be a huge problem in the United States!
Where was the last bike stolen from?
- 26% of the stolen bikes were taken from the street
- 20% of the stolen bikes were taken from the owner's work or public authority parking
- 51% of the stolen bikes were taken from the outside of the owner's property
- 3% of stolen bikes were taken from the inside of the owners' property!
When it comes to bike crime, we tend to think that our bikes are at most risk when we leave them in the street. And 26% of the stolen bikes in this survey were taken from the street, making it the single most common location.
But over half (54%) of stolen bikes were taken from the owner's home, either from inside the residence or from an area on the outside of the property such as the garden, yard, the garage or a shed.
And this suggests that our bikes are actually most at risk when they are stored at home!
This might have something to do with the fact that we are much less likely to lock out bikes at home.
Less than half (47%) of respondents had locked their bikes at home, while nearly three quarters (73%) had locked their bikes in the street.
What was the bike secured with?
- 38% of stolen bikes weren’t locked at all
- 33% of stolen bikes were locked with a cable lock
It seems incredible to me that 71% of the respondents either didn’t lock their bike, or locked it with a cable lock (which is not much better that not locking it). No wonder their bikes were stolen!
What security rating did the primary lock have?
- 52% of bike theft victims didn’t know the security level of their lock
- 29% of the bike locks didn’t have any recognized security level
Since most of the bike theft victims that locked their bike, used a cable lock, it’s hardly surprising that so many either didn’t know the security level, or were using a bike lock without a recognized security level. This is because cable locks are rarely rated.
But there are plenty of very poor u-locks, chain locks and (especially) folding locks too. Which is why it’s important to look for the rating of independent tester like Sold Secure (the biggest) or ART, to identify a good bike lock.
It’s also worth noting that such low level of Sold Secure rated lock use could be because it’s a UK based institution and is less known in the US.
How much did you spend on your locks?
- 77% of bike theft victims spent less than $41 on their bike lock
- 44% of bike theft victims spent less than $20 on their bike lock
There is an old adage that you should spend 10% of the value of your bike on your lock. But this is well out of date if you ask me! If you follow this advice and have a $200 bike, you would get a $20 lock.
And there aren’t any decent bike locks available for $20 or less, which is what 44% of our bike respondents spent on their locks (and which clearly didn’t stop their bikes from being stolen).
You can get a decent lock for around $35 if you shop around. But you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. OnGuard do some great value, high security locks for example. You just need to clean and lubricate them regularly to keep them working properly!
On the other hand, having a super expensive bike lock is no guarantee that your bike won’t be stolen, as the 4% of respondents who spent over $100 on their lock found out. A thief with an angle grinder is going to get through any lock eventually.
However, there does seem to be a clear correlation: the more money you spend on your lock, the less likely your bike will be stolen.
What was the approximate value of the bike?
- 47% of stolen bikes were worth $100 - $400
- 11% of stolen bikes were worth less than $100
- 11% of stolen bikes were worth more than $1000
Thieves don’t care how much your bike is worth. Whether it's worth $10 or $3000, they are quite happy to take it off your hands.
Did you have a record of the frame number of the bike?
- 77% of bike theft victims didn’t have a record of the bike’s frame number
This is pretty depressing. Despite all the noise (from me, and many, many others), about making sure to keep a record of your bike frame number, the majority of bike theft victims (77%), didn’t know the frame number of their stolen bike.
Depressing, but not surprising.
The frame number is not easily visible, (unlike a registration plate on a car). Bike shops don’t routinely inform their customers of the frame numbers of the bikes they buy, or why it’s important to know them.
People only start to think about it when it’s too late.
Did you report the stolen bike to the police?
- 54% of bike theft victims didn’t report the crime to the police
Over half of bike theft victims didn’t report the crime to the police. This echoes what the 529 Garage study discovered. And the only conclusion we can draw from this is the people don’t trust the police to find the thief or the bike!
Did you get the stolen bike back?
- 88% of bike theft victims didn’t get their stolen bike back
The vast majority of bike theft victims (88%) were not reunited with their stolen bike. Which is a pretty damning reflection on how seriously the US police take bike crime.
Now, you might think that if more people reported stolen bikes to the police, more bikes would be returned.
But you might be wrong:
There was no difference in the proportion of bikes that were returned to the victim, whether the crime was reported to the police, or not! Maybe that's why so few people bother to report the crime?
How many times have components (wheels, seats, brakes etc) been stolen from your bike?
- 59% of respondents have never had any components stolen from their bikes
I was a bit surprised by this one. I’ve had so many components stolen from my bike over the years, that I assumed it was rife! That 41% of the respondents have had bike components stolen is a sizable amount.
But it’s still a minority.
Which components have been stolen?
- 40% of component theft victims have had wheels stolen
- 16% of component theft victims have had seats stolen
- 15% of component theft victims have had lights stolen
It’s not surprising that wheels, seats and lights were the most stolen bike components (making up 71% of all stolen components). This is because they are usually attached to the bike with quick release levers, which don’t require any tools to remove.
Where this is the case, anyone who walks past your bike and fancies your wheels or seat can simply pull open the lever and make off with that part of your bike (unless you have additional security).
The other components usually require hex spanners, so a bit more commitment from the thief. And are therefore less stolen. Although I’ve got to say I’ve had brakes and gears stolen on many occasions!
The other components people reported stolen in my survey included:
- Rack bag
- Phone holder
- Under seat bag
- Pedals Pegs
What was the last stolen component attached / secured with?
- 30% of stolen components were attached to the bike with quick release clamps
- 3% of stolen components were attached to the bike with security skewers/nut
My knee-jerk reaction to these results was that you are far less likely to suffer from stolen components if you use security skewers or nuts (3% of component theft), than if you use quick release clamps (30% of component theft).
Specifically because of the extra protection they offer.
That probably is the case. But we can’t really conclude that from this data, since only a tiny minority of cyclists use security skewers or nuts, so there will less components stolen that were using them, regardless of the protection they offer.
However, a lot of people do use cables as an extra form of component protection (especially on wheels). And despite me often
There were 7% less components attached with quick release levers and secured with a cable, than not secured with a cable. And there were 12% less components attached with hex or regular nuts and secured with a cable, than not secured with a cable.
The same caveat applies: there are probably fewer people using those extra cables than not. But I would guess that the usage numbers are close enough, for the difference in instances of theft to be significant.
How Common is Bike Theft in the US?
Bike theft is very common in the US. In 2019, 154,009 bike thefts were reported to the police in the US. That’s equivalent to one bike being stolen every 3.5 minutes.