Lock your bike — and what to do if it is stolen

Minimise the Risk of Bike Theft

Plan A is to sleep with your bike and put your wife/husband in the shed.

If that isn't practical, follow Plan B:

:: Take pictures of your bike with accessories in case it is ever stolen. Keep a record of the bike's serial number and where it is located (usually on the rear stay or under the bottom bracket). Keep the original retail receipts.

:: Always try to park in a secure location that is well-lit , has plenty of passers-by and is, preferably, under CCTV surveillance. Colchester station has secure areas on both the north and south side which not only have pull-out stands but are fenced and gated. Greater Anglia make a deposit charge for a key but you do get your money back in full when you eventually hand it in.

:: Buy the best lock you can (a good guide is 10 to 15 per cent of the price of your bike) and use it to secure your cycle to a bike stand. D-locks are best and medium and small sizes are better than large ones, which give a thief more room to manoeuvre. Pass the D of the lock around the down tube and nearest point of the back wheel through to the stand. Consider securing the front wheel with a cable lock that loops back to the D-lock.

:: Mark your bike: There are pros and cons to getting a bike stamped by the police. If your bike has anything but a strong steel frame (ie, aluminium or cheap steel) stamping can damage the bottom bracket. If you do have your bike stamped, CCC recommends covering the stamped area with varnish or clear nail lacquer to stop it rusting. There are a variety of microchip options, including Bike RegisterDatatag and Immobitag  You can also use nail varnish (your wife won't notice if she's still in the shed) and put your postcode at various hidden points on the frame, such as under the bottom bracket, inside or beneath the chain stays, under the top tube and inside the front forks. This does have the advantage that it will inconvenience a thief trying to pass on the bike. Of course, all these methods depend on the police checking the bike if it is recovered.

Remember that as many bikes are stolen from home as from out of the house. Your bike will be far happier under the quilt next to you, but if you must keep it in a shed, hang a ladder at the right height on the wall and lock your bike to it — thieves don't like it when you make their lives hard for them.

If Your Bike is Stolen

If you are unlucky enough to lose your bike, report the theft to the police as soon as possible  supplying them with full details. Make sure that they give you a crime number for insurance purposes. Take the name of the officer filing the report. If you don't hear anything, follow up with a phone call in a few days' time.

Many bikes are taken to London for resale but others are traded locally or stripped for parts.

Alert local pawn shops like Cash Converters  as well as the Saturday auction at Colchester livestock market  which sells up to 400 bikes each week. Tell Re-cycle  n case it turns up there. Set up searches for your make/model of bike on Ebay and Gumtree and alert the police if it turns up; we advise against trying to meet the seller without having someone with you. Put a report and picture of your stolen bike on Facebook and Twitter and ask your friends to share it.

Remember that once your bike has been stolen from home, the thief knows you are likely to get a new one. Go back to Plan A.

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