How to Stop Bike Theft

Bicycles, like any other items of value, can be a target of theft. Thieves often target bikes because they are valuable, portable and often very easy to steal. However, there are some easy and relatively inexpensive things you can do to deter a thief and help getting your bike back if it is stolen. Here are five quick theft prevention and recovery tips:

  1. Register your bike:
    • The WSUPD offers free bicycle registration. Just bring your bike to the Wayne State Police Department's records section (just inside our front door) during regular business hours. Bring your ID and we will record your bike's identifying information and provide you with a registration tag and a copy of your bike's identifying information. 
    • Take a couple of photos of your bike with your cellphone. Then, email the photos, along with your bike's ID information and serial number, to yourself. You now have an easily accessible record of your bike.
    • For a nominal fee ($10 for ten years) you can register your bike yourself at
  2. Use a quality lock, not a cable lock. Cable locks give the appearance of strength and security but they can be easily cut with metal shears or bolt cutters. Solid metal U locks, D locks or O locks are a much better choice over cable locks, chains and pad locks.
    Bike lock cut on ground
  3. Know where to lock safely. Lock your bike to a solid metal object, not a chain link fence or metal railing. Use a bike rack. If none are available, permanently mounted metal poles or parking meters work — if they have a top that your bike and lock cannot be lifted over or bolts that can't be easily removed. Shake the bike rack, pole or parking meter to ensure that it is secured to the ground. Lock your bike in an area where there are people around. Thieves don't like being observed and will prefer areas without natural surveillance.
  4. Know how to lock safely. Every locking strategy should, at the very least, secure the bike frame and the rear wheel directly to the bike rack, with the front wheel secured to the frame or rack. Remember to secure both front and rear wheels as well if you have the "quick release" skewers on your bikes wheel hubs.
    Here's a couple of locking options…
    Diagram using the rear triangle bike rack
    Diagram removing front wheel from bike when locked

    Make sure the U lock or O lock captures the bike wheel rims, the bike frame and the immovable bike rack or the solid post.
  5. If your bike is stolen:  The critical first step is to file a police report. You might think that a police report is pointless, but stolen bikes are recovered quite often, and without proper documentation they can't be returned to their owners. Also, theft reports help police departments know where to allocate their resources, making it more likely they can resolve or reduce the theft issue.
  • Register your stolen bike on or This is an excellent, free searchable online database that also automatically posts to Twitter.
  • You can list your stolen bike on the website for $0.99. Since 1984, the National Bike Registry has helped identify and return stolen bikes (and scooters) to their rightful owners. More than 48 percent of stolen bicycles are recovered every year by law enforcement, but only 5 percent are returned, since they have no way to determine ownership.
  • Spread the word to your friends and coworkers, as well as to local bike shops and bike clubs, Post recent photos of your bike and info about the theft to social media and social news sites.
  • Scan Craigslist and eBay listings to find your bike using Google Alerts or some other automated search engine.

If you find your bike, we do not recommend confronting the seller yourself as they could react violently. Instead, ask the local police for assistance and bring a photo of your bike, serial number information and the police report as proof of ownership to reclaim your property. Even if the seller is not the person who stole your bike originally, they still have no claim to the property — you have the proof of ownership and the police theft report — and do not require compensation.


WSUPD offers the below utility/bike lock (regularly $29.99) for the discounted price of $15 at our records section, located just inside our lobby, during regular business hours.

Club utility bike lock in packageClub utility bike lock on bike