Bike theft (pedal cycle)

 How to lock up your bicycle safely and securely

Video transcript

  • How to lock up your bicycle safely and securely video transcript

    Words spoken by PC Chris Miles

    When locking a bike up, firstly, we ask you to buy a decent lock. Preferably a D lock. Lock the bike, the wheels to the frame, and also to a solid structure, not something which can be moved. If the lock is only locked through the front wheel and to the bike rack, then the bike, if it is a quick-release bike, can still be stolen. We advise you lock your bike in a very well lit area, and preferably covered by CCTV.

    Although, this is a bike shed, officially, it is not very well lit, it is not overlooked by any houses or any window. It is very secluded so somebody could essentially spend a couple of minutes trying to steal your bike.

    This is an ideal bike rack. Very, very well lit. CCTV all around. Overlooked. Solid bike racks. We have got a bike here that is locked through the back wheel the frame the front wheel and a solid structure so somebody is going to have a very difficult job taking this bike.

People are being encouraged to take up cycling, both to improve their health and as an alternative form of transport to reduce congestion and emissions. With increasing numbers of people owning bicycles, it's important to know how to keep them safe.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen each year. The following advice will provide some simple tips to help residents keep their bicycles secure while at home and out and about.

Summary of crime prevention advice

  • Get a good bike lock. Look for the Sold Secure logo on approved locks - see advice on ‘Locks’ below.
  • Always lock your bike at home and when out and about - see 'Basic security at home' below.
  • Always lock your bike, even if you’re only leaving it for a couple of minutes.
  • If you have quick-release wheels, lock them up too.
  • Remove lights from the bike and take them with you.
  • Identify and register your bike - see 'Bike security marking and registration' below.

When buying a bike, budget for security

  • When buying a bike, consider one or more locks and somewhere secure at home to keep your bike.
  • Make sure you don’t buy a stolen bike – the next stolen bike to be bought could be yours.
  • Do what you can to check the bike is from a legitimate outlet, and that they are sure it is not stolen. If it seems suspiciously cheap, ask yourself why. You may be able to check the ownership of a bike you intend to purchase by searching a property register such as Immobilise, or asking for proof of purchase or ownership.
  • Take out adequate insurance, either by extending your home contents insurance or through a separate policy. Cycling organisations and bike shops may offer specialist cover. Do this at the time of purchasing the bike otherwise you may not get around to it.
  • Record and register your bike. Take a clear colour photograph of your bike and make a written record of its description, including any unique features, so that you can report it accurately if it is stolen. This will help prove it is yours if it is recovered by the police.
  • Register your bicycle model, make and frame number with a third party (the frame number is often underneath the bottom bracket where the pedals attach, or on the frame under the seat). Again, this will help anyone who subsequently finds (or even buys) it to check whether it is stolen, and return it to you. Some registration schemes allow you to register individual bike parts that have serial numbers. Further advice can be found at Immobilise (opens new window).
  • If you add an additional security mark or tag to your bike, this will again make it easier to identify as yours. The mark may be obvious, which should help deter thieves; or hidden, such as ultraviolet; or there may be a combination of both. Clearly visible marks should be securely applied. A hidden mark or electronic tag is less likely to be identified and removed by thieves.

Basic security at home

It may seem as though there are lots of things to think about when locking your bike but, once you get into the habit, you will be able to lock your bike within seconds and it will be well worth the trouble.

More than half of all bicycle thefts take place from an owner’s property. So as well as taking care of our bike when you are out and about, you should think about how safe it is at home. Some things you can do are to:

  • Keep your bike in a secure shed or garage and get into the habit of keeping the door locked. If you keep your bike in a shed, make sure you get a robust lock for the door.
  • Consider using battery operated shed alarms which will alert you to any unauthorised entry.
  • Secure your bike to an immovable object, or consider installing a floor or wall-mounted anchor lock for extra security.
  • Consider using a padlock alarm to secure your bike for shed floor or wall-mounted anchor points.
  • Keep it out of public view.

If you are going to keep your bike in a communal area, consider if there is anything you can lock it to? For additional protection, keep your bike locked, wherever you leave it at home.

Basic security out and about

  • Avoid leaving your bike in dimly lit or isolated places. Leave your bike where a potential thief can be easily seen.
  • Always lock your bicycle, even if you are just leaving it for a couple of minutes. Think about using two different types of lock – see advice on locks below.

Bike security marking and registration


Lock your bike to an immovable object. Where possible, use a proper bike rack, ground anchor or street furniture that offers multiple locking points and will stop your bike falling and causing an obstruction. Bikes locked to lampposts, railings or anything else not designed for this purpose are more vulnerable to theft, so only use these if you really have to. Remember that thieves can remove drainpipes and lift bikes off signposts. If provision is inadequate, bring this to the attention of the relevant local authority or property owner.

Lock both wheels and the frame of your bike to the bike stand or other immovable object.

Secure removable parts. Lock both wheels and the frame together. Take with you smaller components and accessories that can be removed without tools (for example, lights, pumps, computers, panniers and quick-release saddles). Fit secure skewers to wheels, headsets and seat posts. Ask a bike shop for specialist advice.

Make the bike and lock hard to manoeuvre when parked

  • Keep the gap between the bike and the lock small – the smaller the gap, the harder it is to insert levers or other tools.
  • Keep the lock or chain away from the ground; never leave them lying on the pavement – a lock can be sledge-hammered easily when it’s resting on the ground.
  • Locks can also be picked, so face the lock to the ground (but not resting on it) so it can’t easily be turned upwards for picking.


Invest in good quality locks. Hardened steel D-shaped locks and sturdy chain locks are recommended. Be prepared to spend ten per cent of the value of your bike on locks.

It is always best to use two locks. Go for two different types of lock, for example a strong D lock and a sturdy chain lock. This means that a thief will need different tools to break each lock, making theft less likely. There are many different products on the market and price is not necessarily a reliable indicator of quality and resistance to attack by thieves.

Also important is how long the product resisted attack

  • You should look for products that have been tested against attack and select locks that resist attack for the longest time. Check out (opens new window) for certified locks, or ask your local bike shop for a recommendation. If you don’t know whether a lock has been tested, check the packaging – it is likely to say if it has.

There is a grading system used by Sold Secure to assess locks, based on how long they withstand attack.

  • The Gold Standard locks resist longest; Silver and Bronze resist proportionately less well. They may be lighter and cheaper than Gold Standard locks, and still offer a good level of protection. Consider your likely risk and invest accordingly. Bronze standard is recommended as the minimum standard.


  • Inform the police if you have your bike stolen. You can report the theft by phone (999 if a crime is in progress or on the non-emergency number 101) or in person at your local police station. Ask for a crime reference number. This will help you trace the progress of your case and may be needed for your insurance claim. Alternatively you can contact us online.