What should I do when my bike is stolen?

We love our bikes.

And it’s very heartbreaking to see that it’s no longer where you left it this morning. You have not even said your formal goodbyes! The money, time, effort, and experiences you’ve shared with your bike are precious. And to lose all that in an instant is downright tear-jerking.

But alas! There is still hope. Before you collapse in a corner, crying your heart out, make sure you do these things first.

Here are the things you must do when your bike gets stolen.

Get the Word Out That Your Bike is Stolen

We live in an ever-connected world. So why not use it to your advantage? Get the word out that your bike has been stolen — Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter. And oh, don’t forget to let your Tinder matches know as well!

Don’t just post:

*Feeling sad —

My bike got stolen (insert crying emoji here).

A post like this will not take you anywhere.

Instead, post a picture of your bike. All the details you can imagine — brand, upgrades, color, etc. Be as detailed as you can and then ask your friends to share it around to create awareness that your bike is stolen.

File a Police Report

Nah, the police will do nothing.

It’s just a waste of time.

Don’t believe your skeptic alter ego. Go to the nearest police precinct and file a police report right away! Believe it or not, half of the stolen bikes are ultimately recovered by the police. Do you know why authorities only return a handful of them?

Because they can’t find the owner!

Benefits of filing a police report:

  1. If you have a bike insurance, a police report that your bike is stolen is a must to back up your claim.
  2. You improve the likelihood of getting back your bike.
  3. You help the police assess the severity of bike thefts in your city. Thus, helping them develop effective countermeasures.

 Prepare for a police report:

  1. All information you can gather about your bike. Some crucial things are the make, model/serial number, detailed descriptions, and pictures.
  2. Your personal details such as name, gender, address, mailing and contact information, etc.
  3. Details surrounding the case. For instance, they might ask you where the theft happened and what are the regular activities in the area. It’s also worth looking into nearby CCTV cameras.

Ring Your Insurance Company

So you got your police report. Great!

Now it’s time to file an insurance claim (hopefully you have one). Insurance companies usually require the same information as the police. Expect them to ask for the reference number of your police report as well.

You need to act fast! Most insurance companies require that you alert them to the theft within 24 hours. And of course, the sooner you file for an insurance claim detailing that your bike is stolen, the sooner you get a new one!

Check Online Selling Sites

Most “bikenappers” don’t steal bikes for personal use. They do it for the money. Check out popular selling sites in your area — eBay and Craigslist are some good examples.

Stolen bikes don’t get listed right away. Thieves are now smart enough to know that they have to list it a few days after. You know, just to cool off the heat.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sit all day in front of your computer clicking that refresh button every 5 minutes. You can now set up alerts that notify you via email about a certain search query — for eBay and Craigslist, at least.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Register for an account. Don’t worry, they’re free.
  2. For eBay, click the “SAVE THIS SEARCH” button.

    save search ebay

  3. For Craigslist, click the “SAVE SEARCH” link.

That’s it! You’ll get an email from these selling sites whenever a new listing matching the model of your bike within the geographical limits you’ve set comes up.

Somebody created a listing that’s exactly the same as my bike? What should I do?

Let’s talk about what you should NOT do first:

Buying the bike.

I know a few people who did this. It’s just plain wrong (and seriously, are you nuts?). Buying only reinforces the act of thievery and encourages the seller to steal more bikes. Better buy a new one if this is the case.

Contacting and accusing the seller.

You see a bike exactly like yours on eBay, posted days after the theft. The steam in your head is about to go off. You’ve prepared every cursing and threatening words you can possibly imagine. You phone the seller and oops, you’re wrong. Don’t fall into hasty conclusions that are driven by your emotions. Keep your honor intact, my friend.

And if you’re right? The seller can simply get rid of the listing. Sell the bike in another way. And poof, he’s gone forever.

Going to the seller’s house.

If you’re wrong, meaning the bike is not yours, you’re setting up yourself for a shameful display that you’ll probably remember for the rest of your life.

And if you’re right? Tense situations like these can escalate quickly. Better safe than sorry.

So what’s the best thing to do?

The best thing you can do is to call the police. Ask for their advice on how to deal with the situation. If you’re lucky enough, they might pay the seller a visit to confirm if the bike is really yours or not.

Visit Pawnshops and Flea Markets

If the theft opted for a more traditional way of disposing stolen bikes, chances are, he’ll do it in a flea market or pawn shop. If you don’t know where are the hottest flea markets in your area, ask around. It should not take you long to find one.

Again, if you spot a bike that looks exactly like yours, follow the rules above. Don’t do anything crazy. Call the police and let them resolve the situation for you.


Getting your bike stolen is a bummer. And unfortunately, none of us is 100% safe from bike theft. But you can mitigate the issue. You can invest in bike locks that discourage bike thieves from stealing your bike or prepare for the impending misfortune by getting your bike insured.

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