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Anti-theft Measures and Preparation for Theft

To protect your bike from theft, it is important to understand the methods of theft often used by criminals. By becoming aware of the situation and learning how to take measures for bike theft, you can take the necessary steps. Of course, it is not just about how you store and lock your items, but also about being aware of the possibility of theft at any time. By understanding the criminal methods and theft prevention measures introduced in this article, you will be better prepared for theft.

Road bikes are very common targets

Every year, many bicycles are stolen. It is important to be aware that high-end road bikes are especially common targets of theft. There are cases of bike theft where a victim’s bike is stolen during the short time when they are not looking at their bike, and taken away by vehicle, so do not lapse into a false sense of security anytime. It is often assumed that expensive bike theft is operated by professional thieves or organized criminal groups, but theft by ordinary young people, middle and high school students is very common in Japan. The fact that online auctions have made it possible for anyone to resell bicycles and parts is one of the reasons why so many bicycles are stolen by young people.

Learn about the methods used in bicycle theft

Bicycles are stolen in a variety of situations. On the other hand, due to the price and weight of the bicycles, there are some regularities in the ways bikes are stolen. By being aware of the patterns, you might be able to reduce the risk of your bike being stolen.

Theft method No. 1 - Targeting a road bike that the suspect sees often

The drop handlebars and elaborately painted frames of bikes are eye-catching in themselves. If these road bikes are always parked in the same place, they stand out and are easy targets of theft. Especially habitual thieves sometimes loiter around specific bicycle parking areas waiting for bikes to be parked there. Therefore, even if you are in a public place such as in front of a train station, school, or apartment complex, your bike is still an easy target. In addition, shopping malls with bike stores are also popular places for bikes to gather and are often stolen.

Theft method No. 2 - Theft by cutting the lock

In a survey, around 90% of cyclists who have experienced a bike theft had locked their bike. Lock cutting is not only a method used by habitual thieves. With portable tools and power tools available at DIY shops, everybody can easily cut most locks, not just wire ones.

Theft method No. 3 – Stolen for personal use without selling it

In some cases, the objective of the theft is not for reselling the road bike, but simply for its performance. In such cases, the thieves often ride the bikes themselves and eventually leave them somewhere. If the victim spreads information about the theft through social networking sites, the abandoned bike may be found by luck.

Theft method No. 4 – Theft by car

Bicycle keys are not always destroyed at the bicycle parking lot, but may be destroyed after the bike is taken to a secluded place. Road bikes are very light and can be carried by one person. Therefore, habitual thieves who plan to resell them may load them directly into their cars. The key should always be locked to a structure connected to the ground, so that it cannot be carried.

Theft method No. 5 – Parts are also easy targets

Most parts of expensive bikes are also expensive. So, unfortunately part theft is also common. Lights and cycle computers can be removed easily. While wheels are one of the most expensive parts, they are also easy to remove. Some wheels have a quick release and do not require tools to remove.

Theft methods

  1. If your bike is targeted, it will be stolen even in public places
  2. Lock cutting
  3. Riding the bike without selling it
  4. Taking it away by car and reselling it
  5. Parts are also easy targets

Where road bikes are most often stolen?

Analyzing cases of bike theft, you will find that there are key places where theft is common. The best thing to do is to avoid parking your bike in these places, but you likely have no choice but to park in such places. It is important to be extra cautious when parking your bicycle in those areas, and to keep the time parked to a minimum.

Common Location No. 1: Home grounds are one of the most dangerous places.

One of the most common places for bike theft to occur is on your own home grounds. If you find out that this is a place where criminals can break in, you cannot feel safe, even if it is the bicycle parking lot of an apartment building or under the eaves of your house. In the case of apartment buildings, even if the entrance is locked with an auto-lock, it is often possible to break into the bicycle parking lot. Also, at night, not only are there fewer people around, but it is also more difficult to identify the culprit by using security cameras.

Where did you encounter theft?

Common Location No. 2: Shopping malls easily stand out to the public

Even at shopping malls, where you can easily be seen by many people, many cases of theft have been reported on SNS. Even if there is a security guard at the bicycle parking lot, it is difficult to keep an eye on all the bicycles. It is possible that someone may cut the lock out of sight or take a bicycle that is not locked and anchored to the ground.

Common Location No. 3: Bicycle parking lots at stations and schools

When people who ride bikes as part of their daily routine use bicycle parking lots at train stations and schools, it is as if they are letting people know that their bikes are always there. In fact, the reason why there are so many cases of theft at these bicycle parking lots is that criminals are more likely to take notice of bicycles that are always parked there for a long time. Knowing where you park your bike regularly also means knowing what kind of key to use beforehand. In other words, it gives them an opportunity to prepare cutting tools.

Common Location No. 4: Streets and storefronts

There have been reports of theft at grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants where cyclists stay only for a few minutes or a few dozen minutes and take their eyes off the road. Cafes where many cyclists gather can also be tricky, and there have been cases of theft there as well. Always take anti-theft measures when leaving your bike alone, no matter how short the time.

Common Location No. 5: Event venues are a treasure trove of high-end bicycles

Event venues such as road races and enduro events are one of the most dangerous targeted placed, regardless of the scale of the event. In fact, there have been cases where several high-end road bikes have been stolen. Also, due to the characteristics of the event, many road bikes with expensive parts gather. Theft of these parts is also a common occurrence. We should not be too careless in thinking that the event venue is safe.

Places where bicycle theft is common

  • On the premises of homes and apartments
  • Bike parking lots at shopping malls
  • Bike parking lots at stations and schools
  • Streets near cafes and other stores
  • At race events

Specific anti-theft measures to protect your bike

It is difficult to completely prevent theft, as regular offender thieves may use unexpected methods to commit their crimes. However, you can certainly reduce the risk of theft by taking a combination of the following measures.

How to park and store your bike

No. 1: Always store bikes indoors

Because there are many cases of theft even on residential premises, the only safe way to store your road bike at home is to store it indoors, and you should consider that there is no other option. If you have no choice but to store your bike in a garage or on a balcony, you can reduce the risk of theft by making sure that the bike is not visible from the outside. Covering the body of the bike will also reduce the effects of wind, rain, and ultraviolet rays.

No. 2: Minimize the time spent parking bikes

Of course, the longer you park your bike, the more likely it is to be stolen or tampered with. The length of time you park your bike is also related to where you park your bicycle. Bicycle parking time tends to be shorter in places like grocery stores. On the other hand, bike parking lots at train stations, schools, and shopping malls often require longer parking times, which increases the risk of being targeted. If you must park your bicycle for a long time, you should take strict anti-theft measures so that it cannot be easily accessed.

No. 3: Avoid parking bikes in the same place as much as possible.

Parking your bicycle in the same place all the time increases the possibility of being involved in a premeditated crime. Due to the characteristics of bicycle parking lots at stations and schools, people tend to park their bikes at fixed times, so culprits may commit crimes after discovering the owner's behavior patterns. If you have no choice but to use a bike parking lot all the time, you should not only make sure the locks are tight, but also pay attention to the placement of monitors and surveillance cameras.

Points on bicycle parking and storage

  • Always store bikes indoors at home.
  • Keep bike parking time to a minimum.
  • Avoid parking bikes in the same place at the same time as much as possible.

Anti-theft measures (locks, alarms, GPS)

No. 1: Wire locks, chain locks, and blade locks

Light and elastic wire locks are one of the most widely used locks, but they can be cut with small tools, making them very insecure, even if you park your bicycle for only a short time. Chain locks and blade locks are much heavier than wire locks, but they are also more robust. Recently, there are locks that are both lightweight and robust. However, there is always the risk of locks being cut, so it is not advisable to rely on them alone.

No. 2: Use a D-lock in case of emergency

D-locks are said to be the most robust of all keys. The heavier the key, the more robust it tends to be. However, they are not very portable and need to be carried in a backpack or large saddlebag. Also, due to the characteristics of road bikes that require light weight, D-locks do not work well with them. Rather than carrying one with you all the time, it is better to use it in different ways depending on where you park your bike.

No. 3: Reduce the risk by using devices with alarms and communication functions

Devices with alarms and communication functions have a vibration detection that can be used to scare off criminals who are trying to steal or misbehave. Even with the most robust locks, it is difficult to ensure that theft or mischief will not occur. However, when a vibration is detected, the owner will receive an immediate notification and be able to get to his bike without delay. This will have a deterrent effect on theft and provide a sense of security that cannot be obtained with a key alone.

No. 4: Location tracking devices to increase the detection rate after theft

Location tracking devices focus on increasing the detection rate after theft. There are two main types of devices: those that track your location via a Bluetooth network, and those that use GPS to directly check your location.

Bluetooth type

The effective range of communication in the Bluetooth type is about ten meters. It uses the network of users who are using the same product within this range to track location information. This makes it particularly effective in densely populated areas. However, while it is highly effective in searching for lost items such as wallets, you never know where your bicycle will be taken. It is difficult to use it to track a stolen bike.

GPS type

With the GPS method, a GPS module installed in the device receives location information from satellites. If you can see the sky, you can receive location information, which makes it more suitable for tracking bicycles than the Bluetooth type. It should be noted, however, that a separate service fee will be charged since the location information needs to be communicated to the owner. In addition, the GPS function consumes a lot of power and can quickly run out of battery. Therefore, a device with a mechanism that works only when the device is stolen, such as "AlterLock," is suitable.

Summary of anti-theft items

  • Use a more robust key instead of a wire lock, even if you park your bike for a short time.
  • For unavoidable long-term parking, a strong D-shaped lock will be best.
  • Use a vibration detection alarm to deter theft.
  • Use GPS instead of Bluetooth for location tracking devices.

    How to lock your bike

    No. 1: Locking it with a structure fixed to the ground is the most basic approach.

    This is a basic anti-theft measure because it avoids the risk of your bike being taken away while locked.

    No. 2: Attach the lock off the ground.

    No matter how strong the lock is, it can be easily cut by using the principle of leverage or putting weight on the tool. To prevent criminals from gaining an advantage, make sure to lock the bike in a high position that does not touch the ground.

    No. 3: Lock the bike with the wheel.

    Wheels with quick release can be easily removed without tools, so it is common to lock them with the bike. If you want to lock the front and rear wheels together, you will need a long chain or wire. Therefore, consider using more than one lock in those cases.

    How to lock your bike

    • Locking it with a structure fixed to the ground is the most basic approach.
    • Attach the lock off the ground.
    • Lock the bike with the wheel.

    Measures against theft of parts

    No. 1: Lights and cycle computers should be removed, even if it is a hassle.

    Lights and cycle computers can cost more than GBP 100 each and are often stolen. However, it is not possible to lock all these parts together. If you are going to be away from your bike for even a short period of time, remove them each time and carry them with you, even if it is a bit of a hassle.

    No. 2: Special parts that are effective against wheel theft.

    One way to prevent wheel theft is to use special parts. If you use special parts instead of the quick release, the wheel can only be removed with special tools. Of course, there is the drawback that the wheel itself will be harder to remove. However, most of the time, wheels are removed only for maintenance or wheel replacement, and rarely in a situation where every minute counts.

    No. 3: Prevent theft of saddles with special bolts

    The saddle and seat post are parts that can be easily removed by anyone with a hex wrench. And carbon saddles and seat posts are expensive. It is possible to prevent theft by replacing the bolts with special ones that cannot be turned with a hex wrench.

    Preventing theft of parts

    • Do not leave lights or cycle computers attached.
    • Use special parts to replace quick-release wheels and prevent theft.
    • Prevent theft of saddles by replacing them with high-security bolts.

    It is important to always be prepared for theft.

    No matter how many measures you take, theft may still occur. Therefore, it is important to always keep in mind that your bike might be a target. You cannot feel safe even at home, so if you keep your bike at hand, keep it indoors. Not only should you avoid parking your bicycle for long periods of time, but you should also secure your bicycle with a lock other than a wire lock when you leave it alone. It is also important to use a device with a vibration detection alarm or GPS, such as AlterLock, to increase deterrence and peace of mind.

    Theft prevention for bikes is not only about locks, but also about position.

    A strong attitude for preventing theft is also important to ensure that anti-theft measures are taken. If you are going to be away from your bike for even a short period of time, make sure to take anti-theft measures no matter what the situation. If more cyclists take thorough measures to prevent theft, the number of cases will decrease and the number of people trying to steal will also decrease, creating a virtuous cycle.