If your bike has been stolen there are 10 vital things you should do quickly to maximise the chances of seeing your ride again.
As a matter of urgency, report the bike as stolen to the police. Provide as much information about your bike as possible, including the frame number, bike make/type, parts, unique features, photos and any other useful information (where/when/how) about the theft.
Take a note of your reference number and keep the case updated with any new details.
If you are a member of a national bike register, such as BikeRegister which all UK police forces have access to, you should log in and mark your bike as stolen on the database. BikeRegister have a bike checker service, so it will show as stolen to anyone checking the history of the bike before buying.
Speed is key; bikes can be sold, stripped for parts or shipped abroad very quickly. Be proactive, get online and post your bike details out to the cycling community and gain help from others. Provide social media, blogs and forums with photos, bike details and the theft location.
As an example, if stolen in London, tweet the details to the successful @StolenRide community. Do not underestimate the power of having thousands of eyes watching out for you.
Tell your bike insurers within 24 hours and provide them with the full details. It can take time for claims to be processed and they will ensure that the nature of the theft, including location and lock details match the policy small print.
Some lock companies, such as Kryptonite may offer an anti-theft protection policy. Using them as an example, they would require notification within seven days of the incident.
Depending on the location, if your bike is stolen in a public place, look around for any sign of CCTV and actively approach shops or councils to source recordings that can be provided to the police.
Ask everyone and anyone who might have seen something! Is there a shop overlooking the bike rack or fellow cyclists who park their bikes at the same rack every day? Does your residential development have a maintenance team who may have seen something?
Do also warn others to be extra vigilant as it is common for thieves to target the same area, which is an extra benefit of sharing your story online.
Even though this is slightly old fashioned, if stolen from a public place or a residential development, do put flyers up with the bike details and theft details, in the hope that someone witnessed the crime.
Hand flyers out to cycle groups and local bike shops that sell second-hand bikes and offer bike repair.
Actively monitor online auctions, second-hand goods websites and social media listings, such as local buy and sell Facebook groups. Sites such as BikeShd pull in all the new bicycle listings from Gumtree and Ebay in London.
Google your bike details as bike adverts might not always appear on the large sites. Set up Google Alerts, so you can monitor the web and have alerts automatically emailed to you.
Visit local car boots and markets, some have a reputation for stolen bikes. For example, in London, Brick Lane Market has long been a hub. If you spot your bike, do not actively approach the seller, instead involve the police.
If you are lucky enough to have a GPS tracker hidden on your bike, keep an eye on it and provide this information to the police.
If your bike is spotted by yourself or a member of the public, do not meet the seller directly and contact the police immediately by calling 101 with your reference number.
If you have sourced the seller's address, phone number or a meeting date/time (public meeting place) hand this over, with any online bike advert screenshots or hard copies. In London, the Cycle Task Force are very experienced and specialised at dealing with such situations, but do convince them that the bike is unquestionably yours.
Whilst the recovery rate is low, you should never give up! I often hear about bikes becoming reunited months after the theft. Do all you can to protect yourselves against bike thieves.