With bike thefts on the rise across Southern California, securing your bike from thieves won't guarantee it won't get stolen, but it will decrease the likelihood of theft and increase your chances of getting it back.
The Los Angeles Police Department recommends fastening bikes with quality latches, such as U-locks, chains and heavy padlocks in addition to garden variety cable locks, which by themselves are insufficient in deterring thieves.
Bike owners are also urged to take photos of their bikes and record their serial numbers to ensure they have proof of ownership in case they are ever stolen and recovered.
Bicyclists are also encouraged to write or etch their names somewhere on the bike frame.
Police said leaving bikes inside when at home is safest, but locking them to sturdy, permanent fixtures is recommended when outdoors and away. Authorities stress never leaving an unsecured or weakly secured bicycle alone for any length of time since thieves are capable of stealing them in just minutes, sometimes seconds.
Officials say the best fixtures to secure bikes to are:
- Bicycle Racks
- Light posts
- Fence posts
- Parking meters
- Gas mains
- Mature trees
When securing a bike, police advise clasping the frame, front wheel and rear wheel all at the same time, as shown in the LAPD illustration below at right. Locking only the front wheel, handlebars or seat by itself is not enough. Riders should also never rely on bolts or screws to hold anything down as wrenches and screwdrivers are common tools.
To combat the common practice of using bolt cutters to cut through locks, police said it is best to tighten the lock as much as possible -- or lock it as close to the fixture as possible -- so tools have no room to pry them open.
In an LAPD tip sheet for cyclists, police also asked witnesses to bike theft to call 911, or call 877-ASK-LAPD if suspicious activity is seen.