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How can you protect yourself against bicycle theft?

Published on 21.07.2021

Watch out for thieves!

According to Chief of Police Tim Pauly, there was an increase of more than 35% in bicycle thefts in Luxembourg in 2020 compared with the year before.
Compared with 2018, the increase was almost 50%. “We’re seeing basements of blocks of flats being broken into more and more often and unsecured bikes stolen.”
To anticipate this problem, there are several solutions. But bear in mind that none of them is a sure defence against possible theft! Thanks to the advice of our two guests, police chief Tim Pauly and bike mechanic and specialist Philippe Hutmacher, you will nevertheless be able to deter potential thieves.
Frank Maas: Mr Pauly, can you tell us what is the safest place for people to park their bikes?
Tim Pauly: At home, it’s best to keep your bike in the cellar or garage and to secure it with a sturdy bike lock. If you have to leave it outside, a place with plenty of passing traffic will tend to dissuade thieves. So avoid leaving your bike in isolated or unguarded places. 
A brief moment of inattention is often enough for criminals to pounce. Consequently, you are strongly encouraged to lock your bike even during short stops or when it is being transported on another vehicle. Another piece of advice is to remove part of the bike, for example the saddle – or the battery in the case of an electric bike. That will make the bike less attractive to thieves. We also advise you to use a quality bike lock following the basic principle of investing 10% of the value of the asset in the means of protection.
FM: Mr Hutmacher, what advice can you give us for correctly securing and attaching a bike?
Philippe Hutmacher: As far as possible, the bike must be attached to a fixed object, preferably using two different padlocks so as to secure both the frame and the wheels. The fixed structure must be high enough to prevent the bike’s being simply lifted above it together with the bike lock or chain. The bike locks must be as tight as possible and placed as high as possible, making it harder for criminals to bring tools to bear. For still more protection, the best idea is to use a locking system with a keyhole towards the bottom. To avoid making it too easy for organised gangs to put together a plan to steal your bike, change the place frequently, but always choosing a place with as many passers by as possible. All these measures will have a deterrent effect on thieves. In order to encourage “soft mobility”, employers have every reason to make secure bike parking facilities available to their personnel.
FM: What systems give the best protection against theft?
Philippe Hutmacher: There are currently a large number of systems on the market. Ranging from bike locks costing three euros to high quality systems. “U”-shaped anti-theft clamps and chains made of hardened steel are the safest. The sturdier their design, the greater protection they provide against theft. They do however have disadvantages: on the one hand they are difficult to put in a backpack, on the other their weight when travelling. Bike lock cables are lighter and more flexible, but less resistant than U-shaped bike locks. Protection systems with keys are generally safer than padlocks with codes. A good quality protection mechanism will increase the time needed to break the bike lock. Although there is a scale informing buyers of the potential quality of bike lock products, it is recommended to ask the opinion of an expert in view of the wide choice available.
FM: Question for Chief of Police Tim Pauly: what advice can you give us for protecting against bicycle theft in general?
Tim Pauly: It’s a good idea to note down all the important information in a bike passport. In particular the brand, the frame number, the colour and other special features of the bike. Photos and an invoice can also be useful in the event of theft. You can also use the police application to provide the essential information on your bike so as to be able to access it in the event of theft. We also encourage owners of stolen bicycles to come and report the theft. With the help of the information from the app, it will be much easier to locate the owner when the two-wheeler reappears. Bikes can also be equipped with GPS trackers, but the fact is that sometimes stolen bicycles disappear completely from circulation. In this regard, insurance against theft of the bicycle may be a wise move.
Thank you very much for the interview.
Frank MAAS


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