What to do if Your Bike is Stolen

stolen bike chicago


Over 4,500 bikes are reported stolen each year in Chicago. Some districts are more notorious for bike thefts than others. The three districts with the highest number of reported bike thefts each year are District 12, 18 and 10. The neighborhoods those districts cover are Lincoln Square, North Center, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, the Near North Side, Humboldt Park, East Garfield Park, West Town, Near West Side, and Bridgeport. These areas are a magnet for bike thieves because they tend to have expensive, high-quality bikes.

What to Do In Case of Bike Theft

If your bicycle has been stolen in Chicago, notify the police and make a police report. You should have the serial number, make, type, and color of the bike. You also should tell them when and where it was parked. Having a picture of the bike also helps. Be prepared to show them proof of ownership to get it back. With a little research and persistence you may be able to get your bike back.

Do Some Research

Once you file the police report, begin doing a search on your own. The first place you should look is on Craigslist. Many people have found their lost bikes for sale online. Check flea markets, some stolen bikes are located at the Maxwell Street and Ashland Swap-O-Rama flea markets. You should also contact the Stolen Bike Registry (CSBR). They can also be helpful in recovering lost bikes. Friends and family can also help. If you see someone in possession of your bike, do not try to confront them. Call the police. They will get it for you.

Did the City Workers Remove It?

Many places throughout Chicago there are no bikes racks, and you have to chain your bike to street signs or light poles. When you return, if you find your bike gone you may wonder if the bike was removed by city workers and impounded. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Before they remove a bike, city workers attach a card to it for at least a week. The card notifies the bike’s owner of the City’s intention to remove the bike. So if your bike suddenly disappears and it was not a traffic impediment, it was not removed by city workers.

make sure to secure your bike correctly

An example of how not to secure your bike.

Take Preventative Measures

Bikes are stolen every day this is particularly true of Trek bikes and other expensive types. It is important you take steps to prevent your bike from being one of them. According to the CSBR, 25% of stolen bikes were left unlocked, and 35% were locked using a cable. The average cable lock is easy to cut or broken. The Chicago Police recommends using a u-lock, a heavy-duty chain lock, or both. Lock your bike to something secured to the ground. Put the u-lock around the frame and a wheel. Loop the chain through the other wheel and lock it to the u-lock.

For more information and tips on properly securing your bike check out our recent block article

Register Your Bike

One of the first things you should do when you purchase a bicycle is to register it with the Bike Index , the largest online bike registry in the nation. You should also register it with the Chicago Police Department’s bike registry. Plus you should keep a picture of your bike, its serial number, and proof of ownership. If you don’t know your bicycle’s serial number, it will be difficult for you to prove ownership when the police recover it. If someone steals your bike, contact the CSBR. They have some resources that will help you.



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