When Your Bicycle Is Stolen
When your bike is stolen, the sooner you act, the better your chances of getting it back or recouping your loss. (Plan ahead: register your bike now.)
What to Do Immediately
Be safe, be smart. Get to a safe place and call the police.
Have the following information available:
- Your bike's registration number, year, make, model, color
- List of accessories and personal belongings on the bike (basket, speedometer, water bottle, etc.)
- Where you last saw or left your bike
The police will give you a case number. Keep it with you at all times, along with the officer's contact information. (name, badge #, telephone #)
If You Have Insurance
(No insurance? Scroll down to "Follow Up With the Police.")
Check your insurance. (Call your agent with coverage questions.)
- Does your policy include bike theft?
- Is your bike is covered under a homeowner's or renter's policy (perhaps as a rider) or through your automobile insurance?
If covered, is your bike worth more than your deductible?
- No—You may want to skip the claim and buy a new bike on your own.
- Yes—File a claim with your insurance agency, providing policy number, case number and description of what happened.
Questions to ask your agent:
- What is the insurance case number?
- What is covered if the bike is recovered and damaged?
- What is the timeline for compensation?
- What is covered if the bike is never recovered?
- Will this affect my insurance rates? If so, when will the change take effect?
Follow Up With the Police
Call the police department for the detective assigned to your case and ask for a status update. (Have your case number ready.)
If the case is still open, ask these questions:
- Do you have any suspects or details?
- Have been any more bicycle thefts in my neighborhood?
- Is here anything else you need from me?
- May I have a copy of the official police report?
WHN Tip: Police Priorities
While having your bike stolen might be high priority for you, understand that the police might have other important matters to deal with first. They will do their best to follow up on the theft. However, it may not be possible to track down your stolen bicycle. Be patient.
If Your Bike Is Recovered
- The police will ask you to come to the police station to identify your bike. Ask what identification or verification you need to bring. (Photo ID? Proof of ownership: your bike's serial number, any photos, receipts, etc.?)
- If your bike was covered by insurance, notify your agent that it's been recovered. Ask where to take it for a damage assessment (name of recommended bike shop or bike technician).
- If it's not covered by insurance, get it assessed for damage to decide whether to repair or replace it.
WHN Tip: Don't authorize any repairs until you know what the insurance will pay for, which depends on the kind of coverage you have.
If Your Bike Is Not Recovered
- Ask the police for a realistic outlook on the recovery of your bike and to keep you informed of any new developments.
- If your bike was covered by insurance, contact your agent for a status update on the paperwork and the amount of reimbursement for a new bike. (This will depend on your coverage. Consult a local bike shop for an estimate of your bike's worth for comparison purposes.)
- Begin shopping for a new bike.
WHN Tip: If you want to take further action, contact the National Bike Registry. For a small fee, the registry will post a description of your bike and the conditions of its disappearance for 6 months. You can also register your new bike with them for $10-25.
The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal decisions.
Thank you ...
A special thank you to the industry professionals, lawyers, insurance agents, first responders and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.