Recovering Your Stolen Bike

Recovering Your Stolen Bike
John Moss
By John Moss
January 20, 2013

So if your reading this chances are you’re looking for a way to recover your stolen bike, unfortunately there is no sure fire way but you can drastically help you chances by following these 3 key steps.

Quick Links…

Spread the word

  1. Report it to the police.
    Using the 101 service which will put you through to your local police area (use 999 if the theft is in progress or just happened). Write down your crime number as this will be useful for an insurance claim and when spreading the word about your bike theft.
  2. Let your insurers know.
    Remember insurance is a business if they have a reason to not pay out they won’t, most insurers insist that your report the theft to them within 24 hours with a crime a number. If you have a Kryptonite lock you may also be able to claim under their Anti-Theft protection guarantee.
  3. Spread the word locally.
    Make up some flyers to hand out to local businesses you should try to visit every bike shop and pawn shop in your local area, although if this isn’t possible try to email them instead. Also try to get word out to car boot and market organisers although these are often harder to get in contact with. Your flyers should include make/model, a picture of the bike, approximate times it was stolen and a crime number (at the very least). If you can include the frame number and information about any aftermarket parts you fitted. If you have an interesting story (charity rides, high value, etc), it is well worth seeing if your local paper will take the story as this will drastically limit where the thief can sell the bike and help you get word out to a large audience.
  4. Spread the word online.
    Using Stolen Bikes, police also use the property register Immobilise. There are also several bike forums that have dedicated stolen bike sections. In addition contact local social media groups and cycling clubs as well.

Take a walk around

  1. Go for a walk in the local area.
    Take a walk to other bike racks in the local area, many thieves will steal a bike only to lock it up shortly after, from their point of view this reduces the chances of them being caught with it in their possession.
  2. Visit your local pawn shops, markets and car boots.
    Even if you handed them a flyer. It’s still worth checking yourself especially in the first week or so, as many bike thieves are addicts who will want to sell the bike on quickly to get their next fix. If you’re in London, Brick Lane Market on a Sunday is an absolute must following a bike theft.
  3. Spot any CCTV in the area? Ask them to check it for you.
    Whilst it’s unlikely any business will let you watch their CCTV, if you politely ask them to check their CCTV between X and Y for a bike of Z colour (hand them a flyer with this info on) then they will hopefully do this for you (although they may not inform you directly if anything came of it).

Stay Vigilant

  1. Setup alerts for online classifieds.
    The big two for bike sales in the UK are eBay and Gumtree. Find That Bike helps you combine the adverts from each into an easy to read gallery, it also allows you to setup email alerts for your searches.
  2. Keep an eye out in your local area.
    As I said earlier bike thieves will often sell the bike quickly, and it may pass through several hands before someone starts using it again. When they do it’s not unusual for the bike to pop up in the area it was stolen.
  3. Don’t give up hope!
    Whilst some bikes are recovered very quickly more often than not it can take a few months for a bike to appear. Taking a proactive approach will dramatically increase the chances of seeing your bike again.

If you need any advice in recovering a stolen bike or think a bike advert you have spotted is a bit suspect, I’m always happy to help you can email me at

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  • Chris Ng

    Where to look in London for Stolen bike. My bike was stolen last week from Mornington Crescent London and the police closed the case within hours. I was advised to go to Denham Car Boot in Uxbridge on a Saturday, Vauxhall market on a Sunday or Taplow market on a Sunday. Seems there is someone operating out of Hammersmith who uses these markets. I went to Denham and most of the bikes were old. There were two stalls however which had some very nice bikes. A Focus Cayo (£300) and a Wilier La Triester (£240). There was also a Brompton for £500. I’d taken a Polish friend along and after chatting to a couple of the stall holders, it transpires the stall holders often keep bikes in their vans – they are nervous of talking to English people in case they are the police. So, if you have a bike stolen in London, it might be worth a visit. Mine wasn’t there but hopefully this will help someone else.

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  • Adz

    On prevention, everyone should be using a sturdy U-lock and insurance cover is recommended. Additionally, it’s worth hiding a tracker on your bike ( or even 2 ). Apple or Samsung Airtags are cheap options, you can also get purpose built bike trackers like Knog Scout.