On Bike Theft and Keeping Your Bicycle

You may have seen the Outside Magazine’s recent article on bike theft entitled “Who Pinched My Ride?” The story sought to find out where stolen bikes go via a GPS tracker attached to a poorly locked bike in NYC. I asked some of our shop employees to respond with their input on bike theft. Considering Bicycle Habitat employees have successfully kept our bicycles here’s what we had to say.

The overarching agreement among employees is – do not lock your bicycle overnight and do not leave accessories on your bike.

Eduardo sees bike theft as a cycle.

I disagree with the [Oustside] article. Bicycles are not easy to steal if they are properly locked and not left unattended overnight.  This is what I have learn about bicycle theft over the years.

Scene 1: Customer buys nice expensive bicycle and refuses to buy a solid lock.
Scene 2: Bicycle gets stolen.
Scene 3: Convinced that the bicycle was stolen because it was brand new, the customer buys an used bicycle from Craigslist (possibly stolen). S/he uses the same or a cheaper lock because this time it is not a brand new bicycle.
Scene 4: Bicycle gets stolen.
Scene 3 and 4 repeat until customer realizes he/she is spending more money fixing the clunker “no one will want to steal” than what a new bicycle would costs.
Scene 5: Customer gives up riding for a while, but the subway’s smell, waiting for the bus, the price increase on metro-cards makes him/her realize how much he/she misses riding a bicycle.
Scene 6: Buys a brand new bicycle at Habitat. S/he listens to the sales people about where not to lock the bicycle and invests on a solid lock and registers bicycle at police station.
Scene 7: Bicycle gets stolen (just kidding). Customer gets to enjoys his/her bicycle for years.

Anita agrees that bike theft is a problem in the city but has managed to keep her Surly locked safely on the streets for 3+ years.

I used to work in the Empire State Building and would lock my bike out in Midtown for 10 hours a day without a problem. I did the same when I switched jobs and moved to Soho. My wheels and seat are locked to the frame and I use Kryptonite’s NYC lock if I leave if for the day. Never lock your bike overnight.” I’ve also posted over on Brooklyn by Bike about locking bikes.

Amanda tries to avoid locking her Globe Roll on the street but when she does she uses an orange Kryptonite u-lock & cable. She has had lights stolen.

And there is always mechanic Hal’s video on locking your bike for a great reminder.


About bicyclehabitat

New York City's neighborhood bike store since 1978
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3 Responses to On Bike Theft and Keeping Your Bicycle

  1. Bluejay says:


    I grew up with Huffys and Murrays. Inexpensive bikes that for me never failed to get the jib done. My dad assembled the ones I had when I was little and I assembled the last two. I’ve never had a bike stolen, but I never lived in city before.

    My new ride is a Huffy Nassau, a simple one speed cruiser to run errands on in Hoboken. Every week there are reports of bikes being stolen in the paper/blog. I have watched your videos, so I know how to lock my bike, I would like a recommendation on what lock to use.

    An $80 lock on bike that costs $119 makes zero sense.

    • It depends what kind of security you think you need. A cable lock is lower cost but less secure as it can be cut using simple bolt cutters. A stronger u-lock can cost more but keep your bike more secure. If you are locking up outside in the greater NYC area (which it sounds like you are) and budget is a strong concern, you might just keep your eyes peeled for a promotion on the more secure locks. We’ve done some with Abus, for example, and Transportation Alternatives members get $20 off Kryptonite NY locks with us when they join. We usually recommend a Kryptonite series 4 or higher.

      • Bluejay says:

        I found an On Guard U-Lock and cable pack that was in my price range. Not knowing anything about the brand I hit google. There were a lot of complaints about the keys breaking. I see you carry the brand, Is it really an issue, you find more people online willing to trash a product rather than take the time to say something is great.

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