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Had Your Bike Stolen? Useful tips for recovery

Discussion in 'Stolen Bikes' started by mossj88, 20 Jan 2013.

  1. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    So if your reading this, chances are your bikes been stolen... Below is a quick guide to maximizing your chances of getting your bike back.

    Quick Links...
    Steps to Take
    1. Report it to the police. Go on do it now we'll wait, by reporting it not only are you helping your own chances of getting your bike back should the police happen across it, but you are also highlighting that bike theft is a huge problem.
    2. Let other organisations know (Insurers, lock manufacturer). If you bike was insured you need to let them know asap, otherwise you might invalidate your claim. Some lock manufacturers also operate a anti-theft cover, which means that if your bike was locked properly they'll pay, again time is of the essence any delay might effect a payout.
    3. Have a look around. Many bike thieves simply move the stolen bike to a new rack in the local area, so it's well worth checking this out. The reason they do this is it reduces the chances of them being caught with the stolen bike.
    4. Get the word out. Mock up some flyers and pass them out. Local bike shop's, cycling clubs, cash converters, markets and car boots are all good places to start.

      Get the word out online too, this forum is a good place to start. You then have online stolen bike registers, such as stolen-bikes.co.uk. Social media is also a good place to help spread the word. If you've got a good story to go with the theft you might even be able to convince your local rag to publish your story.

      Some people also post their flyers up on Gumtree and eBay, I have mixed feelings about this as I have seen it work but the logical side of me says that your letting the bike thief know your checking that website and therefore reducing your chances of it appearing.
    5. Keep an eye out. If you want to recover your bike it's time to put in some leg work, check your local car boots, markets, cash converters and any other place used bikes might be bought/sold in your area.

      Setup email alerts for eBay, Gumtree and other classifieds using Find That Bike. Often a bike will pop up for sale online a couple of months after the theft, giving you a very real chance of recovery.
    6. If your bikes spotted. Phone the police, many people will tell you to bring in the heavies yourself to get your bike back but this will just land you in hot water.

      If the police are truly unhelpful (and they may well be), then the following has proven successful for some..

      Arrange to buy/win the bike, when you've arrange a time/place to pickup (make sure it's a very public place or a house) contact the police again to see if their more helpful.

      If once again they tell you they have better things to do, go to meet the seller. Once you've spotted the bike phone the police (out of ear shot of the seller, make up an excuse if needs be such as forgetting the money), tell them you need help and to get to the address then hang up and put your phone on mute (they will try to phone you back). Act like nothings wrong and waste time, if you can try and get the bike off them using an excuse (flipping it over and spinning the wheels is often a good trick). *
    If you have any questions or suggestions you can PM me on here or email me using john@stolen-bikes.co.uk

    Best of Luck,

    * Only do this if you feel it's truly safe to do so, you've got to remember these people are criminals having already stolen a bike, and they think your meeting them with a decent amount of money in your pocket. It's a good way to get mugged, so take extreme caution.
  2. Psyclist

    Psyclist Über Member

    Very good information John.

    I'd add, to when you call the police (if you find your bike and meet up) to just put on a panicky voice, and say something like "I need your help at 1 Smith Street" (for example) "Please come now!" - It's not necessarily wasting police time either, as you can say you were intimidated by the people with your stolen bike.

    Also, just say to the police on the phone, "I'm the person standing with the red road bike." (again for example) so they know who to lookout for. Then, when they arrive, explain the situation, and have proof of ownership with you, so you are assured to walk away with your bike back in your possession.


    I know there's a police officer on here who (if sees this) may disapprove of this. But at the end of the day, and in my friends experience, the police took over an hour to turn up when my friend won his stolen bike on ebay. Causing him and his friends to have to handle the situation themselves (because the police didn't get there pronto)
    All in all, to justify what's classed as wasting police time, it's only fair they get there quickly if you're going to be meeting strangers/criminals who're (as stated) expecting you to turn up with cash, and who may rob you too.
    mossj88 likes this.
  3. CopperCyclist

    CopperCyclist Veteran

    Well it's not me. I'd disapprove of the call handler who wouldn't send an officer. The amount of crap we get despatched to, I'd love to go to this job - even without my cycling bias!

    Like John says, just be careful if you take this approach. I'd add that you should try and pick the location if possible. The turning the bike upside down is great advice. When you do take the front QR skewer out and pretend to check it. If you need to buy time you can then chuck the thing, rendering the bike unrideable.

    Also, consider having a friend go with you as a lookout, and get them on the phone to 999.

    Say high value bike on the phone to the call handler. Like many non cyclists they may hear 'bike' and think 75 quid new from Tescos. Plenty of 'high value' 500 quid bikes get put up on our briefing system. If yours is worth a couple of grand say so, it will make them realise that you are likely to take more risks to get if back.

    If they advise you to walk away, politely tell them that you have considered the risks, understand you are putting yourself in danger but WILL be going anyway.

    Make the polite enquiry about whether it would be legal to arm yourself with a knife. DON'T FOR GODS SAKE DO IT! Or say you will do it. It's illegal, stupid and you'll get yourself hurt - but there's nothing wrong in asking the question and again, it'll make the call handler a big twitchy and probably get someone sent out!

    Ill probably be criticised for giving some of this advice, but I see things thus: if it was my bike, I'd be wading in regardless of the risk to me. I suspect many cyclists would be the same, yet call handlers may not know or expect this - I'd rather you got police support by hook or crook.

    Last point - dont start the call on the presumption you won't get help, hopefully everything will go exactly as planned!
  4. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    Glad to have the approach validated by someone in the police.
    Roxy641 likes this.
  5. Psyclist

    Psyclist Über Member

    I do have faith in the police, don't get me wrong. But when my friend, as stated above called to say it was his bike (and he had also previously reported it to the police and given them info on value etc.) the police still took a while. Him and his friends had to 'citizens arrest' him, and hold him down until the police shown up.

    I provide I.P information to police across the U.K, of scammers on another website I moderate, when requested.
    Always glad to work with your colleagues and they're serious about things like fraud. I just wish something could be done about bike theft more to be fairly honest.
    CopperCyclist, you're an individual person I guess in the police force, as you're a cyclist. So you understand the importance of recovering a stolen bike. But other officers seem not too bothered about bikes IME.
    I had my bike taken in a street robbery. Gave the police the description of my bike which was robbed. One of the three assailants (the guy I identified in a line up) who took my bike had my bike the whole time, the police arrested him for street robbery, but didn't find my bike. A year later, I saw him riding my old bike and sternly told him that he can give my bike back, or I'll phone the police. So don't know what happened there. Got my bike back though which was a bonus.
  6. AKA Bob

    AKA Bob Riding a folding bike far too much of the time...

    This what the Met's Cycle Task Force tell victims of cycle theft in London to do

    Sorry to hear about your loss but the following information may prove useful and I apologise in advance for its generic nature.

    1.) Please report the crime in as much detail to your local Police Station in person, telephoning 101 or using the online reporting https://online.met.police.uk/ including the frame number wherever possible and as much detail including modifications and scratches and keep a note of this description.

    2.) Please visit the following two websites and register your bike and show it as stolen this will maximise the chances of the bike being return to you if recovered by the Police in the UK. Bike Register www.bikeregister.com/shop/bikeregister/bike-registration and Immobilise www.immobilise.com. At the same time register any other bikes in the household and any new ones you purchase in the future.

    3.) Finally keep an eye on these websites www.stolen-bikes.co.uk and www.bikeshd.co.uk which collates all the adverts for bicycles for sale placed on websites like Gumtree. Craigslist, Loot and EBay in London. In our experience we normally find adverts are placed within 24hrs and if not keep looking. If you do see your bike let us know and we will see what we can do to return it to you. It might be also worth visiting and making entries on the following forums to maximise the power of 'social media'; Road cc http://road.cc/forums/roadcc-bike , Bikeradar http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/ , London Fixed Gear and Single Speed http://www.lfgss.com/ and finally CycleChat http://www.cyclechat.net/ .

    5.) If your bike was stolen in London and you see your bike for sale please contact us on cycletaskforce@met.police.uk and we will see what we can do to help.

    Hope this helps?
    mossj88 likes this.
  7. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    I'm trying to compile local guides so thats a great help as far as London is concerned.
  8. Banjo

    Banjo Fuelled with Jelly Babies

    South Wales
    A few years ago the police here were criticized for using the police helicopter to chase a bike thief. The cost of the chase was probably more than the value of the bike but one scumbag not getting away with it is priceless IMHO.
    raleighnut and classic33 like this.
  9. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    Completely agree, if the Police where to start thinking like that then any crime under a certain amount would never be investigated.

    P.S I'm of the opinion that the Police should add the cost of the investigation + arrest to the criminals debt, to be paid off like a student loan should they ever start earning (with a lower threshold on when payments start). Students pay for their education, why shouldn't criminals?
  10. Hannah_cycle

    Hannah_cycle Member

    raleighnut and Wayne1971 like this.
  11. Mr Haematocrit

    Mr Haematocrit msg me on kik for android

    Out of the saddle
    mossj88 likes this.
  12. BRounsley

    BRounsley Well-Known Member

    I had my bikes stolen. This is what I’ve learnt.
    My bikes were stolen from a metal cycle store down the side of the house. 2 weeks later someone (mostly likely the same thief) broke into the same metal cycle store. They were most likely looking for the insurance replacement bikes, it’s very common. Lucky for me the shed was still empty that time.
    Tip 1, expected them to come back as it’s very likely.
    6 weeks later parts of my road bike appeared on ebay. I now know the bike had been handled by at least 3 people.
    Tip 2, you have to check ebay/gumtree for months after.
    The thieves are getting smarter and know most people check ebay. They seem to try and get around this by breaking the bike up. It’s very hard to prove/spot it’s your chainring without serial numbers. The bit of my bike where already up to £800 and climbing before they were recoverd.
    Tip 3, look for the frame or any component that’s a bit rarer.
    I knew it was my bike frame the moment I saw it but for the police to get the evidence to get a search warrant, from the magistrate, to raid the eBay seller’s address. I had to prove it was my bike.
    Tip 4, write down your frame number (like a numpty I had not).
    I had photographs of me on the bike that showed some of the same mark in the ebay posting. This is what was used as the evidence to get the search warrant.
    Tip 5, Take pictures of your bike, especially scuffs on the frame.
    Once the address was raided and the bike bits recovered other parts of my bike including aftermarket part where recovered.
    Tip 6, know what other things are on your bike and the exact names of parts. Like I had a ‘3T Team 90mm’ stem on my bike. As with Tip 4 have pictures of these.
    The police have been quick to act. When the bikes where stolen I had ‘scenes of crime’ round etc. But they were never really looking for the bike.
    Tip 6, the odds of someone else finding your bike is very low. It’s up to you to find your bike.
    So that’s the criminal side. I have also had to make an insurance claim. Obviously this depends on your policy but the more you can prove you have done to the bike the more you can claim. I buy most of my stuff from the usual online retailer.
    Tip 7, keep your email receipt for very nut, saddle etc you ever buy for bike because if you have to claim it may mean getting a real ‘like for like’ bike.

    This was a horrible experience and hopefully my misfortune can help others. I also have a nice new shiny bike so thank you M&S home insurance (there have been very good).
    Roxy641, classic33 and ianrauk like this.
  13. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    Some good tips, I added frames to findthatbike but not yet components. Although I think bikes are being broken more and more, so I may have to revisit that decision.
  14. cnb

    cnb Senior Member

    north east
    Not sure if this is the right place to put this..I recently advertised a bike on Gum Tree. A guy sent a message and expressed an interest and left his phone number..I contacted him, described the bike and where i had bought it..He arranged to call at my house to view the bike..Imagine my surprise when two police officers showed up and wanted to see evidence of purchase...This has left me feeling really deflated...I rearranged my night because i thought the guy was coming to look at the bike and i have never had a visit from the police before...I cant help but feel that there would have been a better way to find out that i was a genuine seller
  15. mossj88

    mossj88 Active Member

    It can happen but I'd say it's extremely rare (Police don't usually respond when it's certain that it's your stolen bike is up for sale, let alone when there's an ounce of doubt).

    Unfortunately there is no better way (unless you can think of one). It's likely that in the phone call your description of the bike matched perfectly, I imagine they were trying to match after market parts or marks to the stolen bike.

    I'd just rest assured that should your bike get stolen your police force at least seem proactive about getting it back.
    Last edited: 2 Feb 2014
    Roxy641 likes this.