Student life

12 tips to keep your bike safe

Last updated: 16/10/20

It is estimated a bike gets stolen once every 60 seconds. Don’t underestimate bike thieves – some may be wandering past and see a chance, but others are much more considered and calculated – even carrying tools! The trick is to make it as difficult as possible for them. Here’s how:

1. Keep a note

Note down as much information about your bike as possible, such as any identification marks, stickers, badges, repairs or even grazes or visible damage.

2. Photograph it

Keep photographs of your bike. This will help the police and university locate and return your bike.

3. Mark it

Permanently mark your bike with police recommended products so it can be identified and returned to you if found by the police.

4. Remove the wheel

When leaving your bike outside, remove either the saddle or front wheel to deter thieves. No one wants a bike without a wheel. Use two bike locks and attach them to removable parts, for example the wheels. Take any light fittings with you.

5. Insurance

Whether you're cycling to work, school or just for fun, your bike gets you from A to B. So it's important to look after your bike by taking out suitable bicycle insurance, and checking whether it covers for thefts away from home. It's also a good idea to check with your insurance provider before you buy a lock, as some types will not be covered under your policy.

6. Keep it under lock and key

There are so many bike locks to choose from its bewildering, from the humble chain to the mighty D-lock, and choosing the right lock is really crucial when it comes to theft. While there are different advantages and disadvantages to bike locks, the D-lock is the one recommended by most universities and it’s simple to use, too. Invest in a good lock. It’s tempting to go for the £5 option – especially if money is tight – but it’s that cheap for a reason (it’s rubbish). Drop in at your university’s security office for more info.


Where available use a bike stand that is supported by CCTV coverage. This will automatically deter thieves.

8. Hide it

Where possible, try and keep your bike inside. Parking your bike in the back garden and expecting everything to be alright is just a recipe for disaster, as will locking it to the lamppost outside of your accommodation. Never leave your bike unlocked, even for a second. Many thefts are opportunistic. Remember to always keep it out of public view ideally in a locked bike shed.

9. Register with the police

Your bike has a serial number and you can register this number with your local police station so that in the event that your bike is stolen, you have prior proof that the bike, if recovered, is yours.

10. Report it

If your bike does get stolen, report it to your university and police within 24 hours. Give them as much information as possible about your bike. Set up eBay and Gumtree alerts on bikes that match yours. The thief just might be silly enough to try to sell it on a public forum.

11. Spread the word

Spread the word amongst friends and ask them to keep an eye out. If your bike is specialist or high value, think about spreading the word around local bike shops.

12. Tweet it

Tweet the picture you have of your bike to your local police station and get friends and followers to retweet it, getting as much reach as possible. You may be surprised at the support you get!

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