Tips and Advice

Bike Theft: What to do if your bicycle is stolen

· By Bike Hub Features · 3 comments

Crime is a sad reality of living and cycling in South Africa. While it’s not something any of us want to think about, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of theft, and maximise your chance of finding your bike, or at the very least ensure that it becomes harder for criminals to sell stolen bikes.

Thanks to our stolen bikes database we’ve collected data since 2018 outlining the type of theft and number of incidents reported. As you can see from the chart below, theft from home is by far the most commonly reported incident, followed by bike jacking and theft from a vehicle.

image.pngReported incidents by year by type according to listings on our stolen bikes database

There are certain measures you can put in place to mitigate your risk of theft, like ensuring you don’t leave your bike unattended in public places. Lock it securely to your vehicle, but even when locked up, leaving your bike unattended on a rack is risky. Make sure it is stored as safely and securely as possible at home. Also be vigilant while riding, and where possible do not ride alone.

image.jpegLeaving your bike unattended on a bike rack is risky, even if it is locked on

While prevention is obviously better than cure, there are steps you can take right now to smooth out the process after a potential future incident.

1. Ensure you have the model name, year and serial number of your bicycle and reasonably up-to-date pictures, including any damage, or unique features that differentiate your bike and make it recognisable.

2. Make sure you are covered. Bicycles are high-risk and expensive items, insurance is a worthwhile investment, particularly if your equipment is high-end.

I’ve been robbed. What next?

If you have been robbed, here are the steps you need to take as quickly as possible:

1. Report it to the police

Complete a theft report and get that case number from the South African Police Service.

The police might not go out looking for your bike but there is good reason to report the theft to them:

  • If your bike gets found and reported to the police, they can link the bike to its owner. If they can’t find you, they can’t give it back to you.
  • If you find your bike and need assistance repossessing it from the bad guys, the police have been known to enjoy a good sting operation.
  • It is important for statistics and spotting any recurring patterns.
  • If you have insurance, they will require this.

2. Post it on our Stolen Bikes database

The Stolen Bike Database is a public register of stolen bicycles and is free and easy to use.

The Bike Hub community have sharp eyes for a dodgy deal. Be it on Bike Hub, Facebook, Gumtree, or a local Cash Crusaders, if your stolen bike turns up, the Stolen Bikes Database is the go to resource to confirm any suspicions. Make sure your bike is there for people to find and that you can be easily contacted.

3. Reach out to your contacts and on social media

Get the word out! Share the details of the incident and a description of your bike to your WhatsApp contacts and on your social media accounts. The more people that know to look out for your bike the better. 

This also helps make people aware of crime hotspots, and criminal modus operandi.

4. Notify your insurance

If your bike is insured, report it to your insurance company. They will usually ask for a case number (see step 1).

5. Seek counselling

Being a victim of crime is a traumatic experience. Consider counselling, particularly if you were parted from your bike in a violent incident. Many insurance policies cover some trauma counselling, so check with them.

Why bother?

While all this reporting may seem frustrating and futile it is important to ensure that you share the details of the incident as widely as possible to make it harder for criminals to operate and resell stolen bikes.

You may not be lucky enough to get your beloved steed back, but you could help police identify a syndicate pattern, or alert other users to potential hotspots.

By listing your bike in the Stolen Bikes database you will help make it harder for criminals to resell your stolen bike, and ultimately reduce the incentive to steal bikes. There have been numerous success stories over the past few months with stolen bikes being identified and recovered thanks to the database. Some were recovered within days, and some months after the theft. You can read about one happy ending here.

As always feel free to share your own stories, advice or experiences in the comments below.




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Steady Spin

Oct 11, 2022, 2:11 PM

Step 1: Accept it

Step 2: Get a case number

Step 3: Claim from insurance

Step 4: Get new bike

Step 5: Ride new bike


Oct 11, 2022, 2:16 PM

Step 6: get better security


Oct 11, 2022, 2:20 PM

4 minutes ago, tinmug said:

Step 6: get better security

Security ain't gonna help when someone threatens your life with a knife when you are out riding.

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