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

MINIMISE THE RISK OF BIKE THEFT

PLAN A

Sleep with your bike, put your wife/husband/partner in the shed and never leave the house.

If she/he won’t play along, go to Plan B.

PLAN B

NOTE DOWN DETAILS We cannot stress how important this is. Join Bikeregister.com, a site approved by Essex Police, and add details and photos of your bike. You can then use this police-approved site to record a bike theft and tip off would-be buyers.

Be sure to add your bike's serial number (which is on the rear stay or under the bottom bracket). Note the brand names on the frame, the gears, the wheels and the handlebars. List anything you’ve added or changed, such as transfers, the make of new tyres, or saddle, basket, rack or saddlebag. Scan your original receipt and add it to the pictures on Bike Register.

USE A HIGH QUALITY LOCK Whether you ride a £99 special or a £2,500 leccybike, use a high quality lock. Your bike’s value is irrelevant: think of the upset and inconvenience if it is stolen, especially if you are a bus ride away from home. Buy a Sold Secure Diamond or Gold D-lock (aka a U-lock). This type of lock is best and medium and small sizes are better than large ones, which give a thief room to manoeuvre. Pass the D of the lock around the down tube and nearest point of the back wheel through to a cycle stand or tall post. Consider securing the front wheel with a second D-lock. Never think a cheap cable lock will do – it won’t. Watch this video for how to use a D-lock.

USE NEW TECHNOLOGY An Apple AirTag will link to your other Apple devices using the Find My app, and you will be able to trace your bike’s location. You can disguise it as a reflector or pop it under the saddle. If you find your bike this way, please alert the police on 101 before you go to recover it.

BE STREETWISE 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 north and south which are fenced and gated. Greater Anglia charge a deposit for a key but you get your money back in full when you eventually hand it in.

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN Pay the favour forward: whenever you pass any cycle park, keep your eye out for anyone up to no good. If you see someone get a good description or discreetly video them. Consider carefully whether you want to challenge them. If you are buying a secondhand bike, check to see whether it is stolen on Bikeregister.com

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, if it is aluminium or cheap steel) stamping can damage the bottom bracket. There are a variety of microchip options, including Bike Register, Datatag and Immobitag. A cheap option is to paint your postcode on the frame where you won’t see it in everyday use, such as under the bottom bracket. This has the advantage that it will inconvenience a thief trying to sell the bike.

THE LADDER TRICK As many bikes are stolen from home as from outside the house. If you keep your bike in a shed, hang a ladder at the right height on the wall and lock your bike to it — it will give thieves extra trouble and they could make unintentional noise that will alert you or your neighbours. Crooks don’t like it when you make their lives hard.

Remember that if your bike is been stolen from home, a thief will know that you are likely to get a new one. Go back to Plan A. Honestly, your bike will be happier under the quilt next to you,

IF YOUR BIKE IS STOLEN

REPORT THE THEFT 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.

ALERT PAWN SHOPS Many bikes are taken to London for resale but others are traded locally or stripped for parts. Alert local pawn shops such as Cash Converters as well as the Saturday auction at Colchester livestock market which sells up to 400 bikes each week. Tell Re-cycle in case it turns up there.

LOOK ONLINE 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 UP POSTERS Put up posters with a picture of your bike near to where it was stolen. It may ring bells with someone who saw it being taken.

ASK FOR VIDEO FOOTAGE Did people/businesses near by get pictures of the thieves on CCTV, dashcams or video doorbells?

USE SOCIAL MEDIA Put a report and picture of your stolen bike on Facebook and Twitter and ask your friends to share it. This page features stolen and found bikes: https://www.facebook.com/groups/265883708816264/

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