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ACPD Warns of Bike Thefts

Nearly 400 bicycles have been stolen so far this year in Arlington County. According to police, many of those thefts were preventable.

To help residents protect their bikes, the police department is asking cyclists to use a U-lock rather than chains or cables.

Police are also reminding bike owners that they present thieves with an easy target anytime they leave their bike unlocked on a front porch, in a shed or in an open garage.

ACPD issued the following additional tips for protecting oneself from bike theft.

Be prepared:

  • Register your bicycle with the Arlington County Police Department. You will receive a decal that may be a visible deterrent to theft. Your bicycle information will also be on file in case it is stolen.
  • Keep a photograph of the bike and a record of your bicycle’s serial number and distinguishing features.
  • Make a note of the brand and the style.
  • Note the identification number (located underneath the bike, between the cranks).
  • Most importantly, take a moment to consider what makes your bike unusual. What will make it stand out from the crowd? Photograph any distinguishing characteristics (unusual seat or pedals, scratches, racks, bags – the things that make your bike yours).
  • If it is generic, personalize it.

The most effective counter strategy for a cyclist is to use two types of locks; a U-lock combined with a cable or chain. As with most cycling skills, technique is everything.

  • Open the front quick-release, remove the wheel and place it next to the rear wheel. Rest the fork on the ground.
  • Put the U-lock around a fixed object (guard rail, bike rack, etc.), the rims of both wheels, and some part of the bike frame (either the seat tube, chainstay, or seatstay.) Make sure the lock goes around the rims and not just the spokes, or a thief with wire cutters can walk away with your nice set of wheels.
  • Thread the cable lock through the frame, the front wheel (if it is bolted on), and around a fixed object. Because different tools are needed to break each lock, you will have a backup if one lock is defeated.
  • Do not forget the saddle. If your seat-post has a quick-release, pull the whole thing out and run the cable through the saddle rails.

If you observe someone with a backpack, spending time around the bike racks at the Metro or in your condo garage or taking too long to unlock a bike, it may be suspicious. Call the Arlington County Police Department Non-emergency Line at 703-558-2222.

The Arlington County Police Department also has an Abandoned Bicycle Hotline. If a bicycle remains in place (unlocked) at a parking meter, lamp pole, or bike rack for longer than five days please call 703-228-4057. Leave a description, location and a contact number because the bicycle may have been stolen and left behind.

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