In San Francisco, a bike is stolen every three hours and there has been a 70% increase in bicycle theft since 2006. The SFPD has a warehouse filled with hundreds of recovered bikes, most of which were probably stolen, but they have no way of returning these bikes to their owners because many people don’t keep a record of their serial numbers and don’t register their bikes.
To combat this problem, San Francisco SAFE and the SFPD have just started a bike registration program. By going to the Safe Bikes website, you can register your bike, upload a copy of your purchase receipt and also upload photos of your bike. Then, if your bike is ever stolen, there is a much greater chance that it can be returned to you.
The Safe Bikes website has tips on how best to lock your bike including diagrams and videos. In general, you should lock the rear wheel with a U-lock that also goes through the rear triangle of the bike frame. The lock should be attached to a solid, immovable object. You should use a second lock (preferably another U-lock) to lock up the front wheel. You can also use a cable or chain to lock the saddle, however chain and cable locks are easier to cut than U-locks. You might also consider replacing the quick release skewers on the wheels and seat post with locking skewers.
In the Richmond District, a lot of bikes are stolen out of garages. It’s a good idea to lock your bike when it’s in the garage the same way that you would lock it when it’s out in public. To reduce your chances of theft from your garage, make sure that all of your garage doors are closed and locked and avoid putting valuable items by a window.
Safe Bikes is hosting an upcoming bike theft prevention workshop in March. You can register for this workshop on their website and if you are one of the first 45 people to bring in your old cable style bike lock, you can trade it for a brand new U-lock.
Bike insurance is another good thing you can implement in your ownership. This is very inexpensive coverage provides you with limits to replace a stolen or damaged bike as well as liability insurance for accidents involving other bike owners, autos and pedestrians.