Preventing Bicycle Theft – How To Lock Your Bike

Best Tips for Theft Prevention

  • Always lock your bike’s frame and wheels with a high-quality, modern U-lock (with a disc/flat key)
  • Remove all detachable items like lights, bags and quick release parts and take them with you
  • Lock to a bike rack, or firmly affixed (bolts covered in concrete) parking meter or sign pole – these are the most secure places
  • See images below for locking depictions.
Diagrams showing best lock position
Diagrams showing best lock position

More Tips

  • Record your bike’s serial number. Take a photo of you and your unlocked bike. Keep the receipt. All will help you identify the bike.
  • Always lock your bike, even if you’re just leaving it for a moment
  • Always lock through the frame and a wheel. Add a cable, cable lock, or second U-lock to lock the second wheel. See diagrams to the right.
  • Buy the most expensive lock you can afford. U-locks are strong and better ones come with theft warranties. Only buy a U-lock with a flat or disc key. Cylindrical keyed locks are more easily picked. See diagram about keys to the right.
  • Beware of locking to “sucker poles” that are loosely bolted down and can easily be removed.
  • Avoid locking to private property. Store your bike inside if space is available.
  • Lock your bike when keeping it in a garage or on a porch.
  • Learn about the lock manufacturer’s warranty and product replacement policy.

Additional Resources

If it’s stolen

  • File a theft report with the Chicago Police Department by visiting your local district headquarters or by calling 311.
  • If the police recover your bike, it’s beneficial if you previously registered your bike with the Chicago Police Department. Register your bike now.
  • After filing a theft report with the Chicago Police Department, file a report on the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry as soon as possible.