Theft & Locking

How to Lock Your Bike

Proper locking is the first defense against bike theft. In San Francisco, always use a hardened-steel U-Lock as your primary lock. Cable locks and cheap U-Locks can easily be cut. Secure your wheels with locking skewers (best) or cable around both wheels. Lock the U-Lock to the bike frame (never just the wheels) and to a secure rack or pole. Allow for as little space within the lock as possible; loose locks can be more easily broken open.

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Suggested Locking Techniques

Register Your Bike

If the police recover your bicycle, you must have a serial number to reclaim it. SAFE Bikes is a program of San Francisco SAFE in partnership with the SFPD and the SF Bicycle Coalition to create a voluntary registration program that will help you more easily retrieve your bike. Go to to register your bike with the free database. Your serial number can be found on the bottom bracket.

Register Your Bike

Checklist if Your Bike is Stolen

  1. File a report with the SF Police Department. You can file it online, but investigators strongly recommend reporting it in person at the nearest station. Provide serial number and pictures if you have them.
  2. Register your stolen bike with and
  3. Look for cameras near where bike was stolen. Often times, buildings will have cameras facing the street. Contact the building owner to recover tapes.
  4. Post the bike as “Stolen” in bikes section of Craigslist. If you receive a tip or info, contact the police. Do not attempt to recover bike on your own. You can use to create an alert.
  5. File a claim with your renter or homeowner’s insurance company. Sometimes bike theft is covered.
  6. Visit local flea markets to look for your bike. Some people have reported finding their bikes at San Jose (Wednesday, Friday); Coliseum (Saturday); Laney College (Sunday) flea markets. If you do spot your bike, call the local police immediately and ask them to assist in your recovery.