SANTA BARBARA, CA – Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Santa Barbara Police Department is seeing an increase in bicycle thefts. Bicycles are commonly stolen after they are left unattended in publicly accessible areas. Many bicycle thieves carry tools and target bicycles with low-end locks that can be defeated with inexpensive, readily-available tools. Thieves have more recently been targeting high-end bicycles that are inadequately secured to vehicles (i.e. in the bed of trucks or attached to vehicle mounted bike racks).

SBPD has taken reports for over 320 stolen bicycles this year, 159 of which were valued over $950. With the increased usage of exotic, lightweight materials, as well as batteries, bicycles are becoming more and more expensive. Bicycle thefts are often unreported, because owners do not have serial numbers or suspect information. On average in the U.S., only 56 percent of bicycle thefts were reported to the police.

Here are some things to remember to decrease the chances of becoming a victim:

  • Store your bicycle indoors, in a bicycle locker, or inside of a locked vehicle. If you must leave your bicycle unattended outdoors, use a U-style lock. Most bicycle locks on the market only serve as deterrents to theft. Cable or chain-based locks are easily overcome by inexpensive, readily-available tools.  
  • Register your bike., one of the region’s bicycle advocacy coalitions, works with the non-profit Bike Index, a national bicycle registry. Take a photo of your bike when you buy it, identifying any distinguishing features; Bike Index accepts photos to assist others in identifying your stolen bike. It’s a helpful tool to increase the chance of being reunited with your bike. The link to the national site claims they’ve helped recover more than $12M in bikes.
  • Record the serial number of your bike, as well as the make, model and other features. The serial number is the most important piece of information — it’s the only way of identifying a bike beyond all doubt. All bikes have a unique serial number, usually engraved beneath the bottom bracket (the part of the frame that the pedals go through). Stolen bicycles are often repainted, or otherwise modified to change their appearance. A serial number is the most definitive way to identify your stolen bicycle.
  • File an online or in-person police report, with your bicycle’s serial number, immediately after the theft occurs. If the bicycle cannot be matched to a police report, there are fewer tools at the officer’s disposal to recover the bike, if seen.


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