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Bike Theft Prevention Ideas from Peter Davis

Posted by Amelia Neptune on November 13, 2013

Let's make C-U a bike thief Un-Friendly Community.

I think that our local cycling community would benefit from a relatively simple system which would compile and distribute information on stolen bikes.  I gave it some thought last night and we discussed and refined a possible system at our weekly staff meeting this morning.  This is not a finished product and I'd welcome suggestions to improve it.  But here's the idea.

The system would consist of three parts:

  1. An easy way for the owner to register their bike as stolen.
  2. A way to disseminate that information to appropriate people in our community.
  3. An accessible list of stolen bikes that people could refer to.

Champaign Cycle is volunteering to set up and run this system.  We could implement it in the following manner:

  1.  Register your bike as stolen.

The bike owner would email  (I'm changing this to with "Stolen Bike" as the subject and provide the information on the stolen bike.  We will develop an email form that they could fill out and email back.  That form would include:


  • *Serial Number
    • Check with the bike shop you bought the bike from.  They should have recorded the serial number and have that record for you.
  • *Brand
  • *Model
  • *Color
  • *Frame type (men's or women's frame)
  • *Bike Shop Sticker
  • *Distinctive Features (white aero wheels, yellow baby seat with frog stickers, 12" rusty scratch on top tube, black fenders and rear rack)
  • Size (frame size or wheel size)
  • Style (road, mountain, hybrid, cruiser, kids, etc)
  • Where it was purchased
  • Year Purchased
  • Date Stolen
  • Location of theft (First and John, Cherry Hills, UI Library)
  • Locked with (U lock, cable, chain, in garage, unlocked)
  • *Name
  • *Email
  • *Phone

We would ask that the Police departments also submit their stolen reports so we could disseminate their information.

All this information would help everyone identify the bike to help return it to its owner.  The information could also provide a view of how big a problem bike theft is and where and how bikes are stolen.

  2.  Dissemination of stolen bike information to interested parties.

We would maintain an email list and we would send the information on the stolen bike to:

  • Police: Champaign, Sheriff, UI, Urbana
  • CCB eMail list
  • KMBC eMail list
  • PCC eMail list
  • UC Bike Ride eMail list
  • Bakers Bikes
  • Bike Project
  • Bikeworks
  • Durst Cycles - Urbana and Champaign
  • Itty Bitty Bike Shop
  • Neutral Cycle Workshop
  • The local pawn shops

   3.  Maintain an accessible list of stolen bikes.

We would maintain a list of the stolen bikes on a page on our website to which anyone could refer at any time.  It would be under the Service Tab as Stolen Bikes.  The list would include all the stolen bikes reported to us and would be sortable by column of the categories listed on the report form.  So you'd be able to sort the list by brand, serial number, or whatever.  That way you wouldn't have to print out each report or keep a list which might be out of date. 

So that's the system as we envision it.  We could have it up and running next week.  Any ideas on improving it would be welcome.  We don't suggest that this is a finished project.  It can evolve as we gain experience with it.  I would especially appreciate input from our Police departments.  I'd also be glad to hand this off to another organization, but we are happy to develop and maintain it.  I don't think it will be much of a job for our staff.  We've assigned a person to administer it.  The thing that will make it work and be effective is that we list all the stolen bikes.  So promoting notifying the system of your stolen bike is very important. 

As this system became more widely used, and more widely known, it should act as a bicycle theft deterrent.  If prospective thieves know there is a system to register stolen bikes and that there are Police, bike shops, pawn shops, and individuals on the outlook for stolen bikes, it may make stealing less attractive.  Think of this as a Bicycle Community Watch.

What do you think?

Peter Davis
Champaign Cycle