Being a life-long cyclist has brought me a lot of joy – freedom of movement, good health (and a healthy appetite too), and adventure. But there are pains involved in bike riding. And not just the kind of pain you feel pedaling up a lung-busting hill. A more lasting pain comes from having your bike stolen.
Your bike is more than a tool. It’s a companion that makes you feel more alive and connected to the world, whether for a short dash to the store or an all-day excursion. Your bike is an extension of yourself, and having it taken away is an emotional loss.
Unfortunately, Santa Cruz has a big bike-theft problem. The city police estimate that a bike a day is stolen locally. I’ve certainly had my share of bikes stolen. But the experience makes you wiser and prepares you to avoid becoming a victim again. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:
1. Don’t leave a bike unlocked and unattended, even for a few seconds.
2. Lock your bike with a U lock or a heavy-duty metal-linked cable lock. Thin cable locks scream, “Cut me free and take me away!”
3. At home, keep your bike in a secure, locked storage area. And lock it up with that same trusty U lock – even at home, even behind a locked door.
4. Never leave your bike outside overnight.
5. If you put your bike inside your car, U lock it and cover it.
6. Lock your bike when it’s attached to your car’s bike rack.
7. Don’t brag about your expensive bike on apps like Strava that can publicly map where you live.
8. Don’t leave your garage door open, even when you’re there, so that thieves can’t see your bikes and case your home.
There are also several things you can do now to boost your chances of recovering your bike in the unfortunate case that it is stolen:
• Write down your bike’s serial number. This is usually on the underside of the bike, at the bottom bracket.
• Take a picture of your bike.
• Write down a thorough description of your bike: make, model, year, color, type of parts, and any distinguishing characteristics.
• Register your bike with the local police.
o The City of Santa Cruz Police Department has an online bike registration process.
o Here is information for all other local jurisdictions.
Keep your two-wheeled buddy out of the reach of ubiquitous bike thieves so you can continue enjoying adventures short and long.
Your bike has been stolen, now what do you do?
If you do fall victim to bike theft, here are things you can do to hopefully be reunited with it:
• Report the theft to the police.
• Report it on the Facebook page “Stolen Bikes of Santa Cruz,” and post a picture and description.
• Let the City of Santa Cruz park rangers know that your bike was stolen. The rangers have retrieved many bikes, as they are on the front line of this and other issues. Also go to their Facebook page.
• Keep an eye out for your bike. A lot of stolen bikes don’t travel far.
• Check Craigslist, especially if the bike is worth more than $500.
I recently had a bike stolen. Going through the stages of bike separation grief was traumatic, but I reported it missing and posted a picture on Stolen Bikes of Santa Cruz Facebook page. My misery morphed into elation when the park rangers recovered it a week later. It was great to know that they check diligently for stolen bikes in their effort to mitigate the bike theft epidemic that plagues our fair coastal communities.