Bicycle Theft: our advice to keep your bikes safe at Christmas


28.11.19 at 7:30 am

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When the peak cycling season comes to an end, and with it shorter days, you’re more than likely spending fewer hours in the saddle. Sadly, the decrease in time on the bike and fewer daylight hours leads to an increase in bicycle theft. Our stats show, as a percentage of all claims, there’s a 4X increase in the number of thefts in December compared to August.

theft as a percentage of all claims

Unsurprisingly, few people gift wrap insurance for Christmas, and although it’s a quieter month in terms of sales we remain busy dealing with bicycle theft claims.

We’ve speculated as to the reasons why we experience a spike in thefts and some are obvious. The nights are longer giving potential thieves more cover. Assuming lockdown is relaxed in December, we are more likely to be away from home visiting relatives, and rather sadly there is an increased demand for stolen bikes to be sold on as Christmas presents.

The following article is full of advice to make sure your bike is securely stored when you leave it in your home, garage, car and when out and about. It’s designed to help keep your bike safe, but also make sure you’re up to speed with our security requirements (if you’re not with Yellow Jersey please check your own supplier’s policy information).

I keep my bikes in my home with me

Your home almost certainly has a 5 lever mortice deadlock on the front door, like the Yale and Chubb locks you see everywhere you go. You don’t need to do anything else, so long as the doors and windows are locked when you are out, and a thief has to physically break into the property. The same applies to a private halls of residence at university, as well as a hotel room for up to 60 days at a time.

I keep my bikes in the garage or shed

If this is on the insured property then your bikes are covered, as long as you follow a few conditions. The garage should be secured by the same type of 5 lever mortice deadlock you have on the front door to your house. Alternatively, a closed shackle padlock will provide the same level of security.

We ask that the padlock be rated by CEN (the Central European Norm) at grade 3 or better. CEN grade 3 padlocks are rated as medium to high security in their tests, but they aren’t as expensive or difficult to find as the higher grade locks. Closed shackle refers to the shape of the lock, which makes it difficult to cut with bolt cutters or a saw.

If your garage or shed doesn’t have one of these locks on its door, then you will need to lock your bike separately to an immovable object with a bicycle lock. This is something solid fixed into or onto concrete or stone which somebody can’t just unscrew, and which forms a closed loop the bicycle lock can be passed through. If there isn’t something suitable in your shed or garage, you can buy ground anchors such as these which are easy to fit, and compatible with bicycle locks.

If your bike is kept in a communal area such as the corridor of a flat or a communal bike shed, the requirement to be locked to an immovable object is the same.

Does it matter what type of bicycle lock I have?

Yes, just like with padlocks there are good and bad bicycle locks to choose from. Thieves know which locks are easy to open and which take longer. Buying good quality bicycle locks make it harder for thieves to steal your bike, and deters them from trying in the first place.

We ask that you use bicycle locks rated as ‘Sold Secure’. They are easy to find in shops and online and have been tested and approved by a third party (the Master Locksmiths Association) as fit for purpose. If your bike is valued at less than £1000, a Sold Secure Silver Bicycle Lock is sufficient for us; a Sold Secure Gold Bicycle Lock is needed for bicycles which are worth £1000 or more. If you are not sure whether your current bicycle lock is rated Sold Secure, search the product description online or you can check here.

When choosing a lock, it is also worth considering the style you are buying. As a rule of thumb, D-locks, and chain and padlock style bicycle locks are considered to be superior to cable locks; equally, they’re seen as harder targets for would-be thieves. New company Litelok offer the lightest gold-rated lock on the market, which means your bike is secure as possible without you needing to lug around a weighty, traditional lock. We offer £10 off our annual bicycle insurance for new and renewing customers if you buy a Litelok at the checkout.

Make sure to lock through quick-release wheels as well as the frame, as wheels with quick releases are not covered if they are stolen while leaving your frame behind. On our bike locking post, you’ll find more essential tips for leaving your bike unattended securely.

What about when I’m driving with my bike?

If your bike is inside your car, the doors are locked, windows closed and alarm on, then we agree you have made all reasonable attempts to keep it safe. Some insurers require their customers to lock the bike to something inside the car however we struggle to think what we could actually lock my bike to. It’s best to try and cover your bike up with something just so it doesn’t stand out.

Bicycles on roof racks should be locked through the frame by your Sold Secure bicycle lock to the vehicle, or using the built-in locks which come with brands such as Thule. Bikes locked to car racks can only be left for a maximum of one hour.

Finally, What is abandonment?

Most bicycle insurance and home insurance policies will have an “abandonment” clause, and it’s very important to pay attention to how this could affect a claim.

Your bike is covered for theft while at your insured location (this could be your home or a temporary residence such as a hotel room). Your bike is also covered while away from the insured location so long as you have followed the locking requirements above, but only for up to twelve hours at a time. Beyond twelve hours the bicycle would be considered ‘abandoned’, and no longer covered by the policy.

We have tried to make sure our policy wording is as straightforward and transparent as possible, and that our lock requirements are simple and inexpensive. We will never live in a world with ‘perfect security’; the most we can ever expect is to discourage potential thieves. The Yellow Jersey Bicycle Insurance policy is designed to give you the confidence, that should something happen to your bikes, we’ll have you covered.

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