Prevent Bike Theft

Beware of bike thieves! 

Together with most other major US cities, San Francisco has a problem with bike theft. Several thousands of bikes are stolen annually – in most cases without their owners ever reporting the crimes.

Nearly half of the reported thefts take place downtown, including around Union Square, the Tenderloin, Civic Center, Market Street, South of Market and along the Embarcadero. Thieves steal seats, wheels or the entire bike. Many more bikes than iPhones are stolen, at a yearly cost of more than several million dollars.

Police recover stolen bikes all the time - in stings, during unrelated arrests, and after thieves abandon them. Yet few of them are ever returned to their rightful owners, mainly because relatively few owners take the time to register their bikes or record their serial numbers or take photographs of them to help police identify the property.

Early in 2018, the SFPD began assigning officers in all ten district stations to focus on property crimes including auto break-ins and bike thefts. But we need your help to keep you on your wheels.

What you can do

  • Thwart the thieves by investing in a good lock. A high-end steel U-Lock is best, since cheap locks and cables can be easily cut. Lock the U-Lock to the bike frame – never just to the wheels – and to a secure rack or pole. Take lights and any other removable parts along with you.
  • Park your bike in a light, well-traveled area, or if you can, take your bike into your office, as a city law now allows.
  • Record your serial number. If your bike is stolen and recovered by police, you’ll probably need to provide that number to reclaim it. Look for it on the bottom bracket of the bicycle and record it for safekeeping.
  • Register your bike! Bike Index is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the most widely used and successful bicycle registration service in the world.

If your bike is stolen….

  • File a report with the San Francisco Police Department online, or you may report it in person at your district station.
  • You might also list your missing bike on Craigslist or another online site.  But if someone contacts you, call the police at our non-emergency number: 1-415-553-0123. Do not attempt to recover the bike by yourself.
  • File a claim with your renter or homeowner’s insurance company. Sometimes bike theft is covered.
  • Visit local flea markets to look for your bike. But if you do see your bike, call the police to help you recover it.

For more information:

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, representing some 12,000 city bicycle-owners, is another great resource on bike safety and related issues. Check out their video on how to lock your bike.

Bike Index is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the most widely used and successful bicycle registration service in the world with over 235,000 cataloged bikes, 700 community partners and tens of thousands of daily searches.