Trail Ramblings: What If Your Bike Is Stolen?

We all hope it never happens to us, but do you know what to do if your bicycle is stolen? And what should you do if you find a ditched bike? I recently learned of a bike abandoned by a dumpster, missing it’s saddle. I don’t know if it was intentionally being thrown out or had been stolen, saddle removed, and ditched. It was not a high end bike, but hey, it was once someone’s ride. The police were notified (they said that the info. would be passed along after the weekend, so not a high priority), and today it was gone, though we don’t know who picked it up. What if it had belonged to you or someone you know? Yes, there are professionals who fill up a van and spirit them away to another city, but they may also end up in a local back-alley chop shop, components interchanged or painted to make them difficult to identify before being re-sold.

There are multiple Facebook groups in Lincoln alone, showing varying degrees of activity, with the aim of reuniting people with their bikes. This only works if large numbers of eyes notice the posts and act on the information. Of the three I know of, Lincoln Nebraska Stolen/ Missing Bikes seems to have the most recent posts, though that’s not a lot. I was able to help reunite a rider with their bike using that site when we happened upon a suspiciously abandoned bike a year ago. I had seen the post a couple of weeks before.
When buying a used bike online or at a pawn shop, the worry is often if the bike was stolen. There are websites dedicated to helping with this problem and to help you report your own loss, such as 529 Garage, Bike Index, Bike Register, and the National bike theft Registry, to name a few. Locally, Cycle Works has gotten into the act with their Stolen Bike Registry Finally, the Lincoln Police Dept. asks people to register their bikes. The following information from Channel 10/11 is old, but still worth knowing:
“A large number of the bikes the Lincoln Police Department recovers are never returned to their owner.
However, a new initiative launched by LPD is making it easier for a lost bicycle to make it back to who it belongs to, as long as the owner takes preemptive steps.
So far in 2017, there have been 251 bikes (reported) stolen in Lincoln, and LPD has recovered 414. In 2016, 419 bikes were stolen, and 704 were recovered.
LPD is now offering the opportunity for people to register their bikes online, making it easier for officers to return them if they are stolen.
One of the ways someone can register their bike is by clicking here. (now updated)
Or, an owner can go to the Lincoln Police Department webpage, click on police records, then on bike registration.
A serial number will be required to register the bike. A serial number can be found on five different locations on a bike: Underside of the crank, the headset, the rear stays, the seat down tube, and the top of the crank.
If your bike is lost or stolen, call LPD at 402-441-6000.”

Sometimes the best thing that can become of an old bike is art.

Take photos of your bike(s), and of the serial number. Keep an eye on local marketplaces, Craigslist and social media. Let people know your bike was stolen so they can be looking, too. Most of all, invest in a good lock and use it correctly. A determined bike thief can defeat any lock given enough time, so try to lock up in a place where people would notice the effort.