Bike theft is on the rise in Asheville, according to the Asheville Police Department. Lieutenant Jackie Stepp issued this bulletin to City of Asheville officials via email last week, and we thank Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Barb Mee for sending it along to us:
“The Asheville Police Department saw a significant increase in bicycle theft during the month of July and apprehending those involved is a priority. As you know, replacing a stolen bicycle can be costly. The bikes that have been reported stolen range from average bikes to very high-end expensive bikes. These bikes are being stolen from bike racks on the sidewalk, bikes from residences (both left secured and not secured), and bike racks on the back of vehicles across the city.”
What To Do If Your Bike is Stolen
- File a police report. Make sure the bike description and serial number (if you have it) are in the report so the police can include that information in their database of stolen goods. This database is shared with local pawn shops and they check serial numbers against the database when goods are offered to them.
- Contact your insurer. Your homeowners, renter, auto, or bicycle insurance may cover you against theft, depending on the facts of your case and what coverage you carry. You want to find out if the bicycle is covered and, if it is, if you should make a claim against your own insurance.
- Alert Asheville Bicycle forums on Facebook, especially if it is an expensive or very personalized bicycle. Local cyclists can help you spot the bike if it shows up in a public place.
- Contact Hearn’s bike shop with a description of the bike and serial number. Because Hearn’s is located downtown and because they sell used bicycles, sometimes stolen bikes are offered to them. Hearn’s does not condone bike theft and will help you if they can.
- Monitor Craigslist in Asheville and surrounding towns. For very high end bicycles, it might also show up on PinkBike.com. If your bike turns up, alert APD.
How To Avoid Having Your Bike Stolen
Here are some tips from Lt. Stepp that the APD has found to be effective in preventing bike theft (we’ve added to his list a bit, including the parts in italics). Following these tips makes it less likely that you will have a bike stolen:
- Write down your serial number, save a good photo of your bicycle, and consider joining a free bicycle registry. These steps, taken in advance, increase the likelihood you will recover a stolen bike.
- Use a U-Lock instead of a cable lock. Cable locks are easier to cut; U-Locks are more difficult for thieves to remove.
- Don’t secure your bike with a cheap lock. It’s worth an extra $20 or so for a sturdy lock to protect your investment of $100s or more, especially if it’s your primary form of transportation.
- Always secure your bike to a bike rack or solid object. Also, remember to run the lock through the frame and the front wheel, or you risk finding just your front wheel. For an entertaining video series, watch NYC bike mechanic Hal Ruzal grade people’s bike locks.
- Remember that locks are only a deterrent. But a locked bike is far less enticing to would-be thieves than an unlocked bike.
- Bikes should be stored inside when not in use. Many employers are accommodating if you just ask!
- Report all suspicious persons loitering around bikes and bike racks by calling the police. The non-emergency number is 828-252-1110, but call 911 if it’s warranted.
- If it can be removed, it can be stolen! When you lock up your bike outside, take detachable lights, seat bags, water bottles, etc. with you.
We sincerely thank the Asheville Police Department for taking bicycle theft seriously and taking steps to help prevent and reduce it.
Stay safe, and happy riding!