Recently we have heard about a rather alarming number of bicycle thefts along Northcote Road and the surrounding Battersea and Clapham areas. Whatever the type of bike you ride it is really important to protect it from theft.
Here's what I suggest doing now to help prevent bike theft
GET A STRONG LOCK
There are so many people who buy expensive bikes and then skip on the lock. It is SO IMPORTANT to get yourself a good quality lock. A good, often heavy, strong lock will make all of the difference in stopping somebody stealing your bike. When buying a any lock look for a Sold Secure sticker, this is a great indicator that the lock is strong. Sold Secure tests and rates cycle locks sold in Britain. Each lock model is graded as Bronze, Silver or Gold. The three levels represent how long it would take for a thief to break the lock. The higher the grading, the greater the level of security provided by the product. Most insurance companies will insist you have a Sold Secure lock.
If you're looking for that strong lock, we sell, use and highly recommend the Knog Strong Man. You can read the BikeRadar review here.
Or how about adding more locks rather than just one super tough one? The upshot is that this may move the thief on to another poor bike - sad but true. Also try pin head skewers for quick release wheels, a small chain around the saddle rails and then one lock for the front wheel and a bigger D or U shape lock for the frame and rear wheel.
With a bit of experience in London, you'll develop an instinct where it's fairly safe to lock your bike and where it isn't. Look for cameras pointing your way and well lit areas with other good bikes already locked up there. Or hide your bike in the middle of a busy rack; sadly it is always likely to get some scratches or marks this way, but will be safer. An old inner tube cut in half and wrapped around a frame makes a light and simple protection for your carbon or aluminium frame as well.
INSURE YOUR BIKE
Consider insuring your bike. There are lots of specialists out there who specifically offer cycle insurance. Companies such as Yellow Jersey have affordable plans and are cyclists themselves. This means should the worst happen and you're beloved bike gets pinched you will get financial help towards buying a new one.
Take lots of clear photos of your bike(s) from different angles - and make sure to get a shot of you on it. Then add some photos of parts you may have upgraded, for example wheels. Note down the frame number and try to get a clear photo of it; sometimes this is quite hard as sometimes they are hidden by the gear cable guides. Frame numbers are usually on the bottom bracket shell on the underside of your bike, so you may have to turn it upside down to see it; all bike's have one unless you've had it resprayed. It's impossible for the police to return bikes without these so make sure to find it!
The police run regular bike marking sessions around London such as Bike Register or Immobilise property databases. Please note that the Metropolitan Police no longer support Immobilise for stolen bikes and have switched to Bike Register. Their advice is that you should re-register your bike on Bike Register if you have previously registered it on Immobilise, as the two companies do not appear to share data.
INDIVIDUALISE YOUR BIKE
Think about individualising your bike. Wrap it with knitted covers, stickers, spray paint or hi-viz tape, plus try hiding your contact details in the frame or in a tool bag attached to the bike, it all helps. Whether you put a note or write in the frame or stamp your saddle, this could all help the police when they find your bike and need to return it to you or if an honest but unwitting buyer of stolen goods happens upon it.
SECURE BIKE PARKING
Ask your employer about secure bike parking, they may know of a collective parking scheme underground. Or they may want some installed to help their staff with health and transport.
In the event of a theft:
The Cycle Task Force are a good unit to whom to report your loss. Their contact details: via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of London Police can be contacted on 0207 601 2000.