Yesterday I woke up to find that my bike, which I usually leave on the front garden, was gone. Forever. I started browsing the internet to find solace and found out that I was not the only one. 376,000 bicycles are stolen each year in the UK, around one every 90 seconds. It didn’t make me feel better though. I was particularly annoyed because I had always locked my bike, with a couple of strong, sturdy locks.
I ignored, however, that I could have marked my bicycle to improve my chances of seeing it again one day.
Cycle marking consists of writing or sticking a unique code to your bike and registering it online. When the bike is found the police can contact the owner and happily rejoin him to his bike. Easy as it sounds. The most popular website for tagging your bike is BikeRegister (which is, apparently, also the only Police approved cycle database). After registering online you are sent one marking kit to stamp a code on your bike: it could be a simple sticker with a QR code, a more sophisticated permanent marking system and even a special UV marking which is invisible unless seen under UV light. Thieves won’t see it, the police might. Buying a tag or a marking kit is not expensive (from 12 to 30 pounds).
If you think your bike is not worth the price, although you still somehow feel that you would be heartbroken to see it go, Immobilise offers a free registration to a database linked directly to the Police NMPR (National Mobile Property Register): just write your postcode on your frame, upload your bike pictures and you’re done.
Another option is joining one of the free marking sessions that the Police and some councils are organizing all over the U.K.: you can get your bike marked and if you’re lucky even a free lock.
But wait... does all this work? Well, we don’t have data for the U.K. yet, but apparently Norway saw a drop in bike theft by 50% thanks to the marking system.
And finally, if you are thinking of wandering around Brick Lane to fill the void of your loss with another bike, you can check on the Bike Checker if the bike you are willing to buy belonged to someone else before. Of course, only if it was marked.
So if you can’t keep your bike behind closed doors, just remember the essential: two strong locks, a tag, and above all a BikeParka URBAN cover with its unique lock-through panel to keep your bike hidden from view.