The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that almost 290,000 bikes were stolen in 2017.
You can increase the chances that your bike will be found and returned to you if you register your bike though. Registration markings act as a deterrent to thieves in the first place, because they know a registered bike will be harder to resell with potential purchasers able to check if it has been stolen.
The indelible markings also mean that you’ve got a secondary identifier besides your frame number (which you should note down too).
As a matter of course, you should also make sure that you’ve got photos of your bike and a record of any non-standard components or modifications – this all helps in the event your bike is stolen and you need to identify it.
It’s also sensible to invest in bicycle insurance, not just in case it’s stolen, but in the event it gets damaged. Most insurance policies will cover third-party liability and provide other protection for the bike and rider.
How do I register my bike?
In the UK, the main bike registration database is run by BikeRegister. It’s a free service and now includes the details of over 1,000,000 bikes.
BikeRegister allows you to permanently record the basic details of your bike and ownership for free. Additionally, you can purchase one of three different bike-marking kits, which act as a visible deterrent to a would-be thief.
The simplest Membership Plus kit costs £13 and consists of two tamper-resistant labels that include a QR code linking to your ownership record on the database.
The £20 Permanent Marking kit adds an indelible ID marking to your bike, while the £30 UV Protect kit enables you to mark your frame and components with ID markers that are only visible under ultraviolet light, in addition to providing visible marking.
Police forces are working with BikeRegister to mark up bikes too. Forces around the UK regularly hold free bike registration drives as part of their operation to deter bicycle theft.
How does registration help if my bike is stolen?
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Having your bike registered helps to prove your ownership if it is stolen.
The BikeRegister database is used by every police force in the UK to search for stolen bikes – there are over 40,000 stolen bikes currently logged on its site by their owners.
If your bike is stolen, regardless of whether it is registered, you should notify the police of the theft. Giving them registration details may help further with the search.
You can also record the loss on the BikeRegister site, along with details and photos. If a thief tries to sell your bike, the registration info provides a rapid link to the record, so potential buyers can spot that the bike has been recorded as stolen.
If you’re buying a second-hand bike that has a BikeRegister sticker on it, you should check that it hasn’t been recorded as stolen.
To try to find your bike, it’s a good idea to comb sites for bikes being sold to see if any look like yours.
Find That Bike consolidates ads across multiple sites, including eBay and Gumtree, and includes photos from the original ad. You can log the theft on sites such as Stolen Bikes UK or London-based StolenRide.