Every year, countless bicycles are stolen in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Not only on unlit street corners in the middle of nowhere but also from supposedly safe basements and underground garages. For owners, the crime is a shock, especially if the bicycle costs several thousand euros.
However, especially then, it is important to keep a cool head. Because if your bike is stolen, you should take some measures as soon as possible to get it back or have your insurance cover the damage. We will explain what these are in the following.
The 3 most important steps to take if your bike is stolen
Let us say you have just discovered that your bike has been stolen. Once the initial shock is over, you need to take action.
Take the following steps in order:
- Report the theft to the police
- Contact your bicycle insurance or household insurance
- Start your search
Report the stolen bike to the police
The priority is to report the theft to the police. Depending on where you live, this may be possible online. Otherwise, visit your local police station or call 110. It is even easier with the app of the GPS tracker BikeTrax. Here you can compose and submit a theft report in the app.
Either way, it is not enough to record that your bike was stolen. You must also present the following documents:
- Identity card
- Purchase contract or invoice for the stolen bike
- Bike passport
Excursus: What is a bike passport?
You will receive a bike passport when you buy a bike, or you can make one yourself. It contains important information about the bike – see below. If you have the GPS tracker BikeTrax from PowUnity, you can store the bike passport in the app and send it as a theft report to the police if your e-bike has been stolen.
The police also need information about the stolen bike so they can identify it.
The following information is important:
- Brand and model
- Frame size and frame (serial) number
- If available coding
- bike lock used
Think also about photos of your bike and information about special features like conspicuous accessories or damages. The more detailed you can describe your bike, the higher the chances are that the police will find it.
The bad news is that the police rarely recover stolen bikes or e-bikes that are not equipped with a GPS tracker. In most cases, the thieves are quickly on their way. That is why the detection rate barely exceeds 10 percent. Nevertheless, you should always make a theft report. Without it, the chances are even lower.
The best thing to do is to contact the responsible local lost and found office. Have them certify that your bike has not been returned.
Send a digital theft report to the police using the PowUnity app.
In the PowUnity app for BikeTrax theft protection for e-bikes, a theft report to the police can be generated directly in the app. If your e-bike was stolen, you can send it together with the bike passport by mail to the local police station. In addition to the bike passport, the police will receive the following information:
- When did it happen?
- Where did it happen?
- Last position before the theft (GPS location and map view)
- Current position (GPS location and map view)
By clicking on “Create theft report” you can send the generated PDF by mail or messenger within seconds.
Report the theft to the insurance company
You have been to the police, submitted a theft report in person, by phone, or digitally, and contacted the lost and found office? The next “place to go” is your bike insurance company, assuming there is one.
The insurance company also needs some documents and information from you. What these are, depends on the provider, often they include the following:
- Proof of purchase of the bicycle or other proof of ownership.
- Proof of your report to the police (for example, a crime reference number)
- Certificate from the nearest lost and found office that your bike was not handed in there
- Bicycle passport
In addition, the insurance company will probably need more information about the place and time of the theft.
Important: Bike insurance usually only pays in case of theft if your bicycle or e-bike was locked. Therefore, keep the receipt for your bike lock so that you can show it. Even then, you will need a little patience. It can take two or three weeks before the insurance company compensates for the crime.
Search for the stolen bike yourself
Not every bike is stolen out of malice. If it was badly secured or not secured at all, maybe a drunken partygoer hijacked it to get home faster. With a bit of luck, you as the owner will find it a few corners away in the bushes, undamaged, or with superficial scratches.
Already, for this reason, it is worth checking the surrounding area in case of theft. If you do not find it there, you can do some research on the Internet. Some sites specialize in registering bikes and searching by frame number. In addition, it is worth taking a look at social media groups, eBay, and other second-hand shops. If a bike is stolen, it sometimes turns up there a short time later.
Tip: You want to buy a second-hand bike or e-bike? Then make sure you have proof of ownership, for example, a proof of purchase. If you do not have one and it turns out that the bike was stolen, you may be partly to blame. You can not claim that the bike is yours.
Effective prevention – the best bike theft protection
Prevention is better than cure. Especially with expensive bicycles and e-bikes, it is worth investing in effective theft protection.
This consists primarily of two components:
- a high-quality lock
- an alert system
- a GPS tracker as e-bike theft protection (see next chapter)
Buying a good bike lock – tips for buying
A bike lock is a must-have for every bicycle or pedelec.
You have the choice between
- Frame lock
- Cable lock
- Chain lock
- Textile lock
- Folding lock
The various designs differ greatly in terms of security. A frame lock primarily makes sense as an immobilizer in addition to another lock. To secure an expensive bike or e-bike, we recommend at least a thick chain lock, or even better a high-quality U-lock. You can protect accessories and valuable components with additional locks or HexLox component locks.
Either way, saving money on locks is a bad idea. Skilled bike thieves can pick cheap locks in seconds. High-quality models at least increase the demands on the thieves’ skills and equipment and ensure that removal takes longer. In well-frequented places, this may be enough to protect your bike. An insurer also appreciates it if you have invested in good theft protection.
Install an alarm system
A lock alone is not enough for you? Then combine it with an alert system. Here, too, you can choose from different variants:
- External bicycle alarm systems: You attach these alert systems to your bicycle in addition to a lock, depending on the model with its own bracket or adhesive strips, for example.
- Internal bicycle alarm systems: In this case, the alarm system is integrated into the bicycle lock.
Whichever model you choose, make sure it is easy to operate and offers a high level of security. It is advantageous if you can set the volume of the alarm and sensitivity individually. This way, the alarm system will only go off in case of a real theft attempt and not in case of a breeze or an accidental jostling by someone passing by.
Versicherung abschließen für Schadensersatz
Even the best lock and the most secure alarm system will not prevent every bike theft. Professional thieves pack your bike into a van and make off with it. So that you do not end up empty-handed, you can take out insurance in advance. It will compensate you if your bike is stolen and all insurance conditions are met.
Household insurance and bicycle insurance – the differences
There are two types of insurance for bicycles:
- Household insurance: Household insurance usually only pays if your bicycle has been stolen from your house or the basement belonging to it. However, some household insurances offer the possibility to insure bicycles in other places by means of an add-on. This option is still cheaper than special bicycle insurance, but it comes with limitations. This starts with the insured amount. Expensive e-bikes often cost more than you get from your home insurance in case of theft.
- Bicycle insurance: Special bicycle insurance is more expensive than household insurance. However, the scope of benefits is greater. Depending on the provider, bike insurance not only covers the theft of your bike but also damage caused by an accident or even wear and tear. If you ride a lot and take longer tours in rough terrain, such all-around protection is worthwhile.
We recommend: Compare different insurers and their rates carefully before you decide on a bike insurance. To get started, we recommend our article “E-bike insurance – everything you need to know about the topic“.
Advantages and disadvantages of insurance for your bike
Taking out bike insurance for a high-quality bike is not a bad idea. This way you will at least get reimbursed for a stolen bike or even for necessary repairs.
However, every bicycle insurance has one disadvantage: You will only receive compensation in case of theft. You will not get your bike or e-bike back, no matter how much you have grown to love it and how individually you have equipped it. This is different if you equip your e-bike with a GPS tracker.
GPS Tracker – how to get your stolen bike back
GPS trackers have become the new standard in theft protection, especially for e-bikes. There are good reasons for this: GPS trackers do not make a good bike lock or insurance superfluous. But they do protect your bike from thieves who can pick even the best lock or hijack your e-bike in a van. They also help you to react quickly if your e-bike is stolen.
The advantages of GPS trackers for e-bikes
GPS trackers for e-bikes can be attached to your bike or – even better – integrated invisibly into the motor.
The location of your e-bike can be tracked via an associated app – so you can always keep an eye on your bike.
If a thief tries to steal your bike, you will benefit from the following advantages:
- The app notifies you immediately if your bike is moved without permission. You can then take immediate action to prevent your bike from being stolen.
- If you arrive too late, you can use the GPS tracker to track your bike together with the police and recover it.
Important: Even if you have equipped your bike with a GPS tracker, do not hunt for the thieves yourself. Send a theft report, including location to the police and let them do the rest.
Of course, there are also differences between GPS trackers that affect whether you get stolen bikes back. PowUnity’s BikeTrax GPS tracker tracks your bike in real-time and integrates easily with the engine, two key features such tracker should have.
Plus, our app helps you to contact the police and insurance by sending a report.
Use BikeTrax to recover stolen bikes
With the BikeTrax GPS tracker app, you can save yourself the trouble of searching for documents and going to the local police station when your bike is stolen. You can store all relevant information about your bike, including proof of purchase and photos in the integrated bike passport. This makes it easier for you to prove in any situation that your bike is yours, whether to the police or an insurance company.
If your bike is stolen, you can create a theft report directly in the app and send it to the police with details about the current GPS location of your bike. Quick and easy.
Tip: In the newsfeed in your BikeTrax app, you will continuously receive news about bicycle theft and effective protection. This keeps you up to date on how you can protect your bike.
Conclusion: How successful immediate measures are, depends on the theft protection
It is always annoying when a bicycle is stolen. The more expensive the bike was, the more annoying. Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate theft. But you can make it difficult for thieves by securing your bike with one or multiple locks and additionally using an alarm system and a GPS tracker on an e-bike. If no lock helps and the e-bike is stolen despite all security measures, the GPS tracker BikeTrax from PowUnity will help you get it back. It also makes it easier for you to take the right immediate measures and report the theft to the police. You should never do without it, no matter how you have protected your e-bike and whether you have insured it.