December 2, 2015

Bike Theft: Realities and Risks

Bike theft is the 2nd most common form of larceny in Santa Cruz behind vehicle break-ins. Santa Cruz has a significant bike theft problem. Bikes are valuable, portable and easy to resell, making them attractive to thieves. 402 bicycles were reported stolen in the City of Santa Cruz in 2014. The first line of defense for our community is awareness and prevention to curb bicycle thieves.

Bicycles and bicycle parts including seats and wheels are in big demand and thieves are well equipped and well organized. With some precautions, you can lower the odds that you’ll be the victim of a stolen bike.
MAKE IT HARD TO STEAL - It has been found that in the vast majority of bicycle thefts, bicycles were either unlocked, improperly locked, or locked with inadequate locking devices such as lightweight cables or chains or low-quality U-lock devices.

Bike locking graphics from San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
LOCK YOUR BIKE - Lock your bike at all times, no matter how short of time you will be leaving it. Make sure the lock is attached to the frame of the bicycle and secured to a fixed, immovable object. Invest in a solid hardened steel U-bolt style lock. Cheap ones can be easily defeated. Use additional locks to secure wheels and other parts. Cable locks can be good secondary locks but should not be used as your primary lock.

Secure your bicycle in the garage the same way you would on the street. There is no locking method that is 100% foolproof. With time and tools, a thief can defeat your lock. Bikes left at racks overnight are particularly vulnerable. Bring your bicycle indoors or lock it in your garage whenever possible.

The Santa Cruz Police Department has launched an online bicycle license registration system. The registration is free and never expires!  To register your bicycle, simply complete the Bicycle Registration Form

The online registration was developed to make registration of bicycles easier for Santa Cruz residents and bike shops. Additionally, it will help locate owners of recovered bicycles and deter bicycle theft.

Registering discourages theft and aids in identification should your bike get stolen. Know your bike’s serial number.In addition, any personalization on your bike (stickers, markings, etc.) should be documented and kept in case your bike is stolen. This will make it easier for police to identify. All of this information should be stored and saved along with purchase receipts, manufacturer’s information, and a photograph of the bicycle.
SCPD will routinely discover stolen bikes in the course of our work. SCPD Officers will often look for the bike’s serial number to see if it has been reported stolen. - That is how a recovered stolen bike gets returned to it’s owner. Documenting your bike serial number and reporting the theft is important.

Reporting Theft -
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BIKE IS STOLEN - If your bike is stolen, file a police report as soon as possible. Call 911 or the report can be filed online click here.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU WITNESS A BIKE THEFT - If you happen to witness a bike theft, either by force or stealth, dial 911 immediately and inform the dispatcher where you are and what is happening. Try to remember as much as you can about the suspect for police reports.

Reporting a theft helps give law enforcement, public officials and property owners the most accurate picture of where thefts occur in our community. This will aid in prevention and enforcement efforts.