Where Did it Go? What to Do if Your Bike is Stolen

What to do if your bike is stolen by a bike thief

More than 2 million bikes are stolen every year in the United States. It’s one of the most common crimes, which means there’s a sizable chance that it could happen to you. If you become a victim of bike theft, you need to be prepared with a plan of action. 

Wondering what to do if your bike is stolen? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Search the area to see if the bike was abandoned nearby. 
  • File a police report once you have confirmed that the bike has been stolen.
  • Check local pawn shops in your area to see if your bike was offered to the retailer for payment. 
  • Check online marketplaces to see if your bike has been posted for sale.

This article will explore all of the options available to you if your bike is stolen, including ways to look for your stolen bike and even possible reasons why bikes are stolen in the first place. To learn more about how to react when your bike is stolen, read on. 

What Should You Do if You See Someone Stealing Your Bike?

If you find yourself in a situation where you see someone actively stealing your bike, caution and restraint is always the best initial approach to take. 

Before approaching or confronting the thief, scan their body and check to see if they have any weapons. Most bike thieves won’t be carrying anything dangerous, but it’s important to check; your life isn’t worth a bike. 

If you feel the situation is relatively safe, you should immediately alert the thief that they are stealing your private property and that what they are doing is a crime. It’s tempting to call the police and wait for them to arrive, but most bike thieves work extremely quickly; by the time help arrives, they’ll probably be long gone. 

Once you make yourself known, the thief may back off or quickly flee with your bike; whatever the case may be, it is best not to engage with the thief in any physical manner. There are simply too many unknown possibilities in this scenario. And even if you think you can take them physically, you might be placing yourself in legal jeopardy if you’re the aggressor. 

Whether they take the bike or not, you should call the police and try to watch the thief’s location as they flee, as this will help 9-1-1 dispatchers route police to the area where the thief is traveling. 

Hopefully, the thief will be caught, your bike will be returned to you, and the bike thief will be subsequently prosecuted. Never get physical with a thief unless you have no other choice.  

How Can I Find My Stolen Bike?

Unfortunately, law enforcement may not be quick enough to respond to a stolen bike, or your bike is stolen without you seeing the crime occur. This situation presents one of the most difficult prospects for bike owners dealing with bicycle theft. 

Within law enforcement, bicycle theft can be harder to solve than vehicle theft, both because bicycles are extremely easy to hide and bicycles don’t have identifying license plates. Even if a police officer sees your bike, he has no way of knowing it’s your bike and not the thief’s. 

This issue naturally leads victims of bike theft to begin their own private searches for their stolen property. 

Fortunately, hope isn’t lost. 

Bicycles are a quick and easy way for thieves to make a quick buck; therefore, many victims of bike theft have found their stolen bikes for sale in pawn shops or on classified ad sites like Craigslist

However, before you start searching the entire town, you should start local. 

Once you realize your bike is gone, you should perform a basic search of the area. If the theft occurred at your home, do a scan of your neighborhood from the street to see if you can locate the bike. If you have a picture of the bike, don’t be afraid to ask neighbors if they have seen it recently; they may have even witnessed the crime. 

If this produces no results, call all of the pawn shops in your city. The inquiry process may be time-consuming depending on the size of your city, but there is a substantial possibility your bike may have been pawned or sold. 

If you don’t get any hits at the pawn shops, go to Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and any other online social media applications or websites that post classified ads in your area. 

If all else fails, create fliers and place them around time. To increase the odds of someone reporting something, offer a reward for the bike’s return.    

What Are the Chances of Getting a Stolen Bike Back?

Unfortunately, the odds of being reunited with your bike are quite low. 

As we mentioned above, bikes are both incredibly easy to hide and lack identifying license information. Even if the thief is riding it around town, you’re probably not going to catch them unless you see them riding it yourself. 

And good luck getting assistance from the cops. A study performed in London found that recovered bicycles are not treated as seriously as vehicle thefts, which means you’re not going to get much help from the police. 

This is somewhat understandable, as the value of a stolen bicycle is nothing compared to a stolen vehicle. However, it’s not very comforting to the victim of a bike theft. 

With this in mind, efforts to recover your stolen bike should not be abandoned; just because a lot of time has passed since the theft doesn’t mean that you will never find a lead. 

Is It Worth Reporting a Stolen Bike?

It is definitely worth reporting a stolen bike, since the only other option would be to just allow a thief to get away with a crime. 

Even though the police probably won’t start an active investigation into your bike theft, letting them know that you lost a bike might help you get it back if they catch the thief stealing something else in the future. 

Also, if your bike is stolen at a public place, surveillance footage and security guards can help in discovering a description of the perpetrator or even help to recover your bike. Police can also use this to improve their search for the thief, which may ultimately lead to a joyful reunion with your trusty metallic steed. 

Will Your Homeowner’s Insurance Cover a Stolen Bike?

It depends. Bicycle theft can be covered under standard homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies; however, it is important to check your policy to see if property theft is included as coverage.

Homeowner’s insurance policies can be tricky when it comes to theft. If you’re concerned about losing your bike or other valuables, make sure you get homeowner’s insurance that covers theft. 

Why Do Bikes Get Stolen?

Bikes are stolen for a variety of reasons:

  • The most common reason is for profit. As mentioned above, many thieves will sell the bike to pawn shops or sell it online. This is especially common in larger cities that have bike theft rings. 
  • Some thieves simply need a bike. Bikes are a reliable and useful means of transport. Some people might need a bike but lack the money to buy one, and thus resort to stealing. 
  • Some thieves just enjoy stealing. Most bike thefts are covered by the first two reasons. However, there is a subset of people out there who simply enjoy stealing things. As bikes can be particularly easy to nab, they’re a common target for these types of people. 


If your bike is stolen, all hope is not lost. 

While the odds say you won’t be getting your bike back, there’s still a chance; and that chance will increase if you put in the effort to look for your bike. 

No matter what, it’s always a good idea to report the crime to law enforcement to ensure that they’re aware of the theft. While they might not do anything drastic, it might get you your bike back if they catch the thief stealing something else. 

And even if the chances of police recovering the stolen bike are pretty low, you can also be proactive by searching for your stolen bike on your own. Most stolen items are now sold on the internet; therefore, there’s a good chance you may very well come across your bike online.

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