What to do if your bike is stolen
It’s a cyclist’s worst nightmare - Your bike is gone. Stolen. Whether from the rack in front of your apartment, your backyard, or off of your car, having your bicycle stolen can leave you feeling victimized and helpless. Bikes are highly fungible items. Easily transported, dismantled, and hocked, bikes are a currency of choice for thieves up and down the West Coast.
Stolen bikes are hard to track, hard to recover, and a low law enforcement priority. If your bike has been stolen here is what you need to do:
FILE A POLICE REPORT: Bike theft is a low law enforcement priority, but you still need to file a report to give your insurance company and if you ever spot your bike. The police department probably won’t send an officer out to take a report but they will take one over the phone. An ever-increasing number of jurisdictions are now able to take reports online.
REGISTER YOUR BIKE AS STOLEN ONLINE: There are several websites for registering your bike that law enforcement and re-sellers use to see if a bike is stolen. The sites bikeIndex.org (free) and nationalbikeregistry.com ($10-$25) are the biggest registries.
WATCH CRAIGSLIST AND OTHER SITES (AND NOT JUST IN YOUR CITY): Bike thieves do not steal bikes to ride them. They steal them to sell them. Frequently bikes are dismantled and reconstructed using components of many different stolen bikes. Watch Craigslist for your frame or any bikes that have a unique component you had on your bike.
It is very hard to prove that a bike is yours or that any component came from your bike if you don’t have the serial number(s).
bikes are often transported to different cities by organized criminals. Check different cities’ online sale sites. For the West Coast bikes stolen in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Salem, Eugene, Medford, Redding, Sacramento, San Francisco, or Oakland, could conceivably be found in any of the other cities as there is a bike theft ring that transports bikes up and down the I-5 corridor.
SPREAD THE WORD: You never know who will spot your bike out on the street. Use your social media to let your friends know your bike was stolen and ask them to share widely and keep their eyes out.
CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY: Your bicycle’s theft may be covered by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Quite often, though, the deductible and subsequent premium increase render making a claim impractical. It doesn’t hurt to talk to your insurance company to see how the claim would pencil out.
If you do locate your bike, either online or in person, call the police immediately and don’t attempt to recover it by yourself.
Charley Gee is a Portland personal injury attorney. He focuses his practice on representing injured cyclists and pedestrians in the Pacific Northwest.