In association with

IAM RoadSmart

Bike Theft

by Iain White.

My nightmare began when arriving back to Heathrow Terminal 5 after a business trip. I always used my bike, as the parking is free for Motorbikes at most UK airports.

Imagine the feeling of turning up where you had left your bike only to find 1 pannier and the remains of a LiteLok.

My Bike had been secured with a disk lock, a LiteLok and the factory fitted alarm, none of which seemed to have deterred the thieves.

What I would have done different, and why.


I would always take a full inventory of what is extra on the bike. It is amazing what we personalise our bikes with, seat covers, fitted camera systems, extended mudguards, the list could go on but you get the idea.

Know how to contact your insurance, and understand if they will help get you home. It is amazing how stranded you feel when your expected mode of transport has gone.

Securing your bike:

Fit a cheap tracking device, I had an Apple AirTag on my bike (cost of £40), this ultimately enabled me to recover my bike before too much damage was done.

Immobilise both front and rear wheels with disk locks, and put them in locations that are difficult to use bolt croppers .

Chain your bike to an immovable object, and ensure the chain is raised off the ground.

If you can afford it get a subscription tracker that has a bike recovery service, it is surprising at how little the police can and will do to find and recover your bike.

If you have space to carry a cover, use one to hide the identity of your bike. They are normally targeted by make and model.

Basically make your bike as difficult to get to and move, it may take you time when you need to manoeuvre your bike when you return to it, but what is difficult for you could be the what eliminates your bike as a target for thieves.

The aftermath:

If your bike is stolen, do not expect to get a swift replacement. Most insurance companies will have a waiting period (1 month is not uncommon) before paying out on an unrecovered bike.

If you get you bike recovered (like I did with mine), it may be stripped down and this can lead to even longer delays. My bike was stolen on 16th June and I did not get it returned until 17th October!

Inform the police immediately and get the crime number, do not expect any real action to take place. I was tracking my bike, and did not see a policeman until I had tracked my bike to a location 60 miles away, 2 days later.

If your bike insurance does not cover any item, try your household insurance. This is how I claimed for my £1200 jacket and £600 helmet with £300 communication unit.

If your bike is stolen and you have secured it, do not blame yourself. If a professional thief wants your bike they will take it.

Would I leave my bike at an airport again? My answer may surprise most, as yes I would. I would take a few more precautionary steps (see above), and have some nervous moments until I see my bike safe and sound.