Bicycle Theft

Bicycle theft has become a tremendous problem on college campuses, and the Berkeley campus is no exception. Bicycles and bicycle parts, including seats and "quick release" wheels, are in big demand, and thieves are well-equipped and well-organized.

Some campus buildings allow bicycles to be stored in individual offices or designated bike storage rooms. The safest place to store a bicycle is indoors, in a locked room. However, indoor bike parking is never allowed in corridors, stairwells, exit pathways. Outside, bike parking is not permitted on trees, metal poles or anywhere else where it may impede emergency exit from a building. This applies even if there is no signage specifically prohibiting bicycle parking.

You may want to consider using an inexpensive and/or used bike to ride to campus to make it less attractive to thieves.

Make It Hard To Steal

We have found that in the vast majority of bicycle thefts, bicycles were either unlocked, improperly locked, or locked with inadequate locking devices, such as lightweight cables or chains, or low-quality U-lock devices. You should always carry a secure lock whenever you plan to leave your bicycle unattended. The "U"- shaped locks have proven to be the most effective, but like all locks or chains, they can be defeated. Use a high-end "U"- shaped lock to reduce the chances of the lock being defeated. You should also exercise care in where and how you lock your bicycle.You should always lock your bicycle through the frame and both wheels to a bicycle parking rack, preferably a rack with a thicker frame. Lock all free parts of the bicycle as well or take them with you. If you lock only the front wheel you may return to find only the front wheel. Leave your bicycle in a visible, well-lighted area. Avoid leaving your bicycle locked outside overnight.

An interactive animation showing How to Lock a Bike. (Flash)

Bikers Beware

Thieves are often creative in their approach-if they are unable to steal the bike, they may try to take any valuable parts. If left unattended for long periods (overnight), secured bicycles may get their unsecured parts stolen. The thief will secure his/her older bike to a more expensive bike that is parked in a rack or other area. The thief will wait until later in the evening when the area is clear and the victim has grown tired of waiting and has exhausted all ideas on how to locate the owner of the other bike or remove the lock. When the victim leaves in exasperation, the thief will then take all that is unsecured, tires, pedals, lights, speedometer, etc. Missing parts can average between $300-$500 or more depending on type of bike and parts taken.

If this should happen to you:

  • Remove all parts possible that may be subject to theft before leaving the area for the evening or an extended period of time.
  • Notify UCPD or P&T to ascertain whether assistance is available to you. UCPD or P&T can remove the lock for you if you can provide proof of purchase and/or bicycle registration in your name.

Licensing And Engraving

Licensing discourages theft and aids in identification, should a stolen bicycle be recovered. In addition, UCPD recommends that all major components be engraved with a driver's license number or state-issued identification number. This information should be recorded and saved along with purchase receipts, manufacturer's information, and a photograph of the bicycle. Do not use Social Security numbers for engraving, as they are very difficult for the police to research. Check our News page for Licensing Schedule.

Some people have reported that The Bike Index or the Stolen Bicycle Registry has helped people in a community recover stolen bicycles.  UCPD offers free Bicycle Licensing & Registration:

Reporting Theft

If your bicycle is stolen on campus, you should report the theft immediately to the UC Police Department. Providing the police with descriptive information, such as the serial number and license number, increases the chance of recovery. To report the theft of a bicycle, contact UCPD at (510) 642-6760. For more information on locking a bike, campus bike riding regulations, and a link to resources at Parking and Transportation.

Bikes, basically

Lock all free parts of the bicycle as well or take them with you.

(And note the serial number somewhere)