Bicycle Anti-Theft Programs

Anti-theft programs reduce crime and resources needed to track and recover bicycles.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Reduced crime: Preventing theft in the first place reduces resources needed to track & recover bikes, as well as crime statistics and the perception of crime.

Increased support for bicycling: Programs also include registries and support tips.

Tip & Techniques

Bicycle registration: Bike registration is the foundation of a theft deterrence program to verify ownership & returns.

Attention to locks & securing bikes: Provide information on the best ways (& worst ways) to lock up a bike including choice of locks, securing wheels & seats, bike rack design and lighting. Work with office and apartment building managers to prevent theft in bike storage areas. 

Know where stolen bikes get sold: Inspect flea markets and check Craigslist bike offerings & check serial numbers. 

Use social media for 2-way communications: Program managers can use Twitter and chat to alert members to stolen bikes & theft hotspots. Accounts can also collect reports of theft.

Adequate bike racks: As the share of bike trips increases, there is also growing demand for racks.  Work with bike groups and the GIS department to create bike parking "heat maps" to detect & predict locations that need additional bicycle parking.

Bait bikes: Like automobiles, police use bait bikes to catch thieves. Widespread knowledge of bait bikes serves as a deterrent to would-be thieves. 

Apps & Tracking: A growing number of products and bicycles come with built in tracking so owners can locate & report a stolen bicycle. 

Hot Buttons: Bait car & bike programs  can be viewed as overly aggressive ways to enforce laws.  Bike owners who track down their bikes should contact law enforcement instead of going it alone. 


Bike Index National Stolen Bike Registry

@SFPDBikeTheft Twitter account