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Protecting your Bicycle Against Theft

A bicycle can be stolen from just about any place, but simple precautions can deter would-be bike thieves and prevent a long walk home. Always lock your bicycle securely, whether you’re gone for a few minutes or a few hours. Remember, most bikes that are stolen were not locked!

Mark your bicycle with an engraver to deter thieves and to help the police in identifying and returning a stolen bike to the rightful owner. Use a unique number such as you social security number.

for more information about bicycle registration…
Register your bike with the Toronto Police.

Register your bike at bikeregistrycanada.com [paid subscription applies].

Record the serial number of your bicycle and keep it with the sales receipt and a photographic of the bike. Register your bike with the police and/or with a national registry service.
The most common tools used by a bicycle thief are bolt or cable cutters. These tools are powerful enough to cut through chains, cables and padlocks up to 3/8 inch thick. A hardened steel chain or cable at least 7/16 inch thick with the same size padlock can provide a degree of security for an inexpensive bike in a low risk area. Try not to buy a chain that is hardened all the way through. Sometimes a 100% hardened chain can be broken with a hammer blow. A non-hardened inner core will still make it difficult to defeat with a hammer or bolt cutters, but the hardened outer jacket protects the chain from hacksaws.

If you decide to use a cable, select one at least six feet in length so the frame and front tire can be secured. Remember, the heavier the chain the better. Inspect the chain for welded link construction. A non-welded or twisted chain can be defeated by opening one link with a spreading tool.

A cable or chain requires an equally secure padlock. A good padlock should have at least a 7/16 inch hardened alloy steel shackle. (The shackle is the movable part of the padlock). The word ‘hardened’ will be stamped on the shackle. The shackle should also lock ‘heel and toe’. If the lock has the double-locking feature, an indentation will be present on each shackle leg.

The best security lock for a bicycle is a ‘U’ shaped lock specifically designed for bicycles. Their construction discourages sawing, cutting or smashing. Shop around and avoid cheaply made locks. The less expensive locks are usually made of a lesser grade steel and will not stand up to an attack.

How and where to lock your bicycle

Thieves tend not to like crowds, so park your bicycle where there is a high degree of pedestrian traffic. If someone tries to steal the bike, it is possible that they might be seen by a passerby.

Always attach the bicycle to an immovable object, such as a bicycle rack, light pole, etc. Make sure it cannot be taken by merely lifting the chain or cable over the fixed object. Try to avoid locking your bike to a tree or other living plant. The constant abrasion of the metal bicycle will damage the tree over time and may kill it altogether. Don’t secure your bike to handrails. Bicycles may be removed from handrails for safety reasons.

Position the lock as high off the ground as you can so it’s difficult to gain leverage by bracing one leg of a bolt cutter against the ground. This will also reduce the likelihood of anyone trying to smash the lock or pry it open. Secure the bike by closing the lock’s shackle around some portion of the bike such as the handlebar or seat support.

Always try to anchor both wheels as well as the frame with your chain or cable. If you have quick-release wheels, take the front wheel off the bike and lock it with the frame. Never lock your bike by the front or rear wheel alone. Thieves will as willingly steal part of your bike as the whole thing.

For information about bicycle registration…
Register your bike with the Toronto Police.

Register your bike at bikerevolution.ca.