It’s safe to assume if your bike is not locked up, it will be stolen. So the first line of defense is to purchase a quality lock and use it properly whenever your bike is unattended. It should be understood that stolen bike can mean much more than just a loss an expensive item. A seasoned bicycle, regardless of its monetary value, has character, personality, and a deep connection to the owner which is often only realized after its too late. The physiological trauma a stolen bicycle can have on its owner is often underestimated. Owners may feel violated, enraged, lost, and depressed. However, you can avoid these destructive and downbeat feelings by following some simple tips.
1) Get a quality lock(s). There are many types of locks out there, but they all fit into a few categories. (1) Kryptonite Chain locks. These are generally regarded as the highest theft proof locks (around $90). However, they are heavy and may not be practical to carry with you on your ride. But they can be wrapped around the seat post to transport them, or simply left at the home and/or at your destination for when your bicycle arrives. Take note that proper chain locks are connected by a U-lock at the end. This means that you CAN’T just go to home depot and buy a heavy chain and a pad lock. The pad lock can easily be snipped. (2) U-locks. We recommend these locks. U-locks are much more convenient to ride with and still very resistant to crime. Many U-locks come with an accessory that allow you to attach the lock to your frame when riding. These locks are great for locking the frame and one wheel to the bike rack. (3) Cable locks. Do not use these locks as your primary lock. Cable locks are probably the least resistant to crime as the cables can be easily cut no matter how thick. They should only be used as a secondary lock that locks the wheels to the frame (see picture below). A U-lock or Kryptonite chain lock should always be used to lock the frame to the bike rack.
2) Lock up your bike to the rack during the day, and if possible, bring it into your house or garage at night (this will also protect it from the elements). If you have room, don’t be afraid to bring your bike into your office/lab. But be sure to still lock it up, even if it’s just locking the wheels to the frame. Below is a map of all the bicycle rack on Duke’s campus (courtesy of Duke Parking and Transportation). To zoom and look around, and to get more precise locations of the bike racks, click on the map.
3) Lock your bicycle properly. Dont be lazy and just slap on your lock. Take the extra 15 seconds to lock it the right way (see pictures below). Most bicycles have quick-release wheels which make it easy for thieves to swipe the frame if your wheels are only locked, and if you only locked the frame, thieves can steal the wheels. So to be safe, lock both the frame and the wheels.
4) Lock your bicycle to an unbreakable immovable object. A bike rack is ideal, but if you’re improvising, avoid the common mistake of locking to wood (can be sawed off), fences (can be clipped), parking meter with a cable lock (can be lifted over the top), etc.
5) Take away any easily removed accessories such as cycle computers, lights, saddle bags, seat and seat-post, etc.
Remember that you can get your bike engraved for free from the Duke Police (or any other item that has a serial number, i.e. laptop, cell phone, etc). Here is the video explaining a little more about it.