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How to Stop Ebike Theft

Bicycles are stolen every day. By the boatload. And the main reason bicycles are stolen is because it is so easy to do so. Thieves like it easy, and some cyclists literally hang a sign around the handlebars that says, ‘Take Me!’

“More than two million bikes are stolen each year in North America, equating to one theft every 30 seconds.”
“Bike theft costs North American communities more than $1 billion each year.”
“Of the hundreds of thousands of bicycles recovered by police each year, less than 1% are registered and fewer than 5% are returned to owners.”
“Only 20% of stolen bikes are reported to police.”
(source)

The above figures are in the US, and of course are related to all types of bicycle. In the UK,

“300,000 bicycles are stolen every year.”

“a bicycle is stolen every minute and less than 5% of those are returned to their owners.” (source)

We can see that bicycles are easy targets for theft, so if you have an ebike, which will tend to be a more expensive purchase, then the temptation for a thief will be all the greater. In the unfortunate chance that your ebike has been stolen, you have probably around a 5% chance of it ever being returned to you. To stop your ebike theft, you will have to ensure you can lock up your ebike securely wherever you leave it.

Theft Proof Locks

Where many cyclists fail in protecting their bicycles is in using inadequate cycle locks. If a thief can circumvent, or break, a cheap cycle lock in seconds, then there really isn’t much point in using a lock at all. Instead, hang the, ‘Please take me!’ sign on the handlebars. You may think having any lock at all is a deterrent, but to a seasoned thief, bypassing such a lock is an inconvenience of seconds.

In reality, most thieves are like anyone else in society, they will usually take the easy option. Therefore, a bicycle with no lock may be the first option, second is the bicycle with the cheap lock they have plenty of experience breaking. Third option, is look elsewhere, if the cycle they are looking at has a decent high-security lock fitted that can resist bolt-cutters and metal drills.

There is probably no such thing as a ‘thief proof lock,’ but some come close, and the more difficult you make it for a thief, the more likely they will leave your ebike alone and look for an easier target.

There is not much point investing a great deal of hard-earned money on an expensive ebike, and then securing it with a cheap lock. Better to price in the cost of a decent lock when you are selecting your ebike, and buying both at the same time.

Many towns and cities have convenient and secure locking racks for bicycles

Secure Locking Points

Of course, it is not enough just to lock your ebike. You don’t want someone in a large car or pick-up truck just lifting it, shoving it in the back, and taking off. Then they can leisurely take their time removing whatever lock you had fitted when they get back home with their haul.

To secure your ebike properly, ensure you lock it at a secure locking point. This may be a purpose-built cycle rack locking point, or it may be a metal railing, or lamppost. Wherever it is, it must be a permanent fixture and a solidly positioned structure. You must also secure the frame, as well as the wheels. A good D-lock with a cable secures both your ebike frame and wheels to a secure locking point. Remember though to take the battery case with you, if it is the detachable type.


See also: What is an Ebike, or an Electric Bicycle?

and: Why You Should Buy an ebike


Keys and Security Apps

Ebike manufacturers try their best to make the security of the ebikes they sell a priority. It is a good marketing point promising a customer no one can use their newly purchased ebike unless they have the original key, or they have registered their ebike to an app that checks ownership before allowing operation.

While these security measures are to be applauded, in reality they do little to deter theft. Locks can be picked or forced, and apps can be bypassed or hacked. The probable truth is, the person stealing your ebike is not the one who wants to use it, he is the one who is going to sell it on, and in all probability, whoever eventually buys it, will either have the knowledge to bypass any security measures, or pay someone who does, to ensure they can freely use the ebike. Security measures are great, and may put off a few thieves, but they will not stop a determined thief. Car manufacturers have been fitting complicated locks and immobilizers and alarms for years, but car theft is still rife.

Bicycle secured with a D-Lock and cable, securing both wheels and the cycle frame

GPS Trackers

Another security measure that you may want to consider is placing a GPS tracker on your ebike. These, in themselves, will do little to stop theft, especially if the thief is unaware a GPS tracker is fitted. They will though, while operational (if not discovered and disabled), give you a real time position of where your ebike can be located. If reported to the police and actioned quickly enough by them, then you may have your ebike returned to you.

Ebike Alarms

A good quality alarm may be a better deterrent for all but the most determined thieves. A loud audible warning of an ebike being tampered with may turn a few heads looking towards the thief, and the thief may run off, so your alarm worked and your ebike is safe. Others though, may treat the sound as they do a car alarm going off – a common everyday event that is usually a false alarm, so can be ignored. A brazen thief may take the chance and attempt to silence the alarm before too much commotion is caused.

Security Measures are Commendable

We can see that there are many measures available to stop, or hinder, the theft of an ebike. Many work well, and fitting a tracker and an alarm to complement a decent D-lock and cable can make your ebike that much more difficult to steal, that it will deter most thieves.

While all security measures are commendable, it would not be wise to think they are fool-proof. A seasoned and determined thief will probably have the knowledge to counter or disable some of these measures. The most difficult task he will have to overcome, is to break a high security lock and free the ebike from its anchor point. This is the one measure that may save your ebike from an attempt to steal it. Unless the thief is highly experienced and stealing your ebike to order, they will probably move on and seek out an easier target.

Ebike Insurance

As well as securing your ebike when ever you leave it unattended, and perhaps fitting extra security devices like alarms and trackers to deter thieves. It may be wise to consider having a good ebike insurance policy just in case.

As we can see from the stats above, if your ebike is stolen, you have around a 5% chance of ever having it returned to you. And if it is finally returned, what damage may have been done to the ebike during and after the theft? An ebike returned in an unusable condition may cost you a great deal to restore to good working order. A good insurance policy should either cover the costs to put the bike right, or pay out for a replacement.

Register your Ebike

Registering your ebike details may hasten its return if it is stolen. By registering it you can easily prove that you are the legal owner.

In the USA, you can register your ebike at Project529.

“Keep your bikes safe in the 529 Garage, the largest community-powered bike recovery service.”

Register Here.

In the UK, you can register your ebike at Bike Register, the national cycle database.

“Join the UK’s national, Police approved, bicycle marking & registration scheme.”

Register Here.

If you are not located in the USA or UK, then please check with your local police if there is a scheme to register your ebike against theft in your location.

(Featured image at top of post by Arnold Reinhold own work CC BY-SA 3.0)

05 Oct 2021

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