It’s never nice being the subject of bike crime. When it happens there is that awful feeling of loss for your trusty steed and of course a little bit of shock. Once that shock subsides there are some steps you should take in the aftermath of your bike being stolen.
Inform the Police immediately
Locate the police station closest to where your bike was stolen and report the theft. Make sure you report the theft within 72 hours of it happening.
At the police station, you’ll be asked to fill out a crime report form. You should give as much detail as you can on the form about the theft. This should include when and where it occurred as well as the brand name of the bike and the specific model name. The police also welcome a photo of the bike and this can be given at a later date if you don’t have one when reporting the theft.
If you know the serial number of the frame put that down on the form. Also let the police know if the bike has been security marked or tagged. This will help the police return the bike to you if the police ever recover it as they will be able to check ownership databases such as Bike Register.
Once you handed the crime report form in, you will be given a police crime number. This is a reference number that you can make further enquiries on about your bicycle theft. The police crime number is also important if you have theft insurance for your bike.
Make an insurance claim
Report the theft to your insurance company or insurance broker. Some insurance firms will just require a police crime number to process your claim, while others require additional evidence such as a broken lock.
Most insurance forms will ask for supporting information in relation to the bike theft. These differ from one insurance form to another.
Don’t make a new bike purchase until you get a claim decision as the insurance company may not pay for that bike.
Trying to find your stolen bike
A local police force only has limited resources to fight to stolen bike crime and it may be the case that you’ll never see your bike again despite reporting the theft to the police. Fear not, there are people out there who have managed to get their stolen bikes back, often through their own investigative work. Being proactive in tracking your stolen bike can be time consuming and may involve patience but the ultimate result could be having your prized possession back in your hands.
One of the first places to look for your stolen bike is online. More times than not, stolen bikes will end up on eBay or online classifieds like Gumtree. Unfortunately both sites are hotspots for stolen bikes and that’s not just us blowing our own trumpet.
It may be a simple case of just putting the details of your bike make and model into search engines on such sites to see if you can find a match. However, bike thieves are not stupid and may list a bike under a generic term such as “mountain bike”. A dead giveaway of a stolen bike being sold online is the lack of detail about the bike provided in the posting and a relatively low price for the bike. Another way of finding your bike on an online site is to search for a bike on distance. It is unlikely that the bike thief will have moved your bike out of the town or city it was nicked in.
A stolen bike may not appear on such sites immediately so make sure you take a long term view of trying to track that stolen bike. A good idea is to get alerts from eBay/Gumtree on bikes that match your bike in this case.
If you find your stolen bike
If you do manage to locate your bike on eBay, Gumtree or via a newspaper classified, the procedure is to contact the police first, quoting your crime reference number. Police advise that you shouldn’t confront the seller yourself and let the local police force deal with the situation.
Once you convince police the bike is your property, they should get into contact with law enforcement officers on such sites and hopefully the seller’s details will be passed onto the police. There is a danger of the police not acting in time before a bike is sold on by the thief but remember the police will still have enough evidence to go question the seller and a bike could still be traced to the new buyer.
Many people don’t notify the police of their bike theft and will go and meet the seller of the stolen bike themselves. We still advise you to inform the police and let them deal with the situation but if you do go and meet a seller, take someone else with you. The seller may hand the bike back to you based on information you give but remember you are dealing potentially with a dangerous criminal.
Spread the word about your bike theft
Another proactive way in trying to locate your bike is to visit national or even local cycling forums and post up your bike details in case someone else sees it online or out and about. If you have a Twitter/Facebook account, or blog, post details of the theft on there. Social networks help spread the news of the theft to so many more people. This means that there are many more eyes out there who could spot your stolen bike being sold on eBay or other classifieds.
Stolen bikes can also turn up at local markets or car boot sales so it may be worth checking these places for your bike.