Keep Your Bike’s Serial Number Handy In Case Of Theft

Keep Your Bike’s Serial Number Handy In Case Of Theft

Everyone knows a car has its own unique identification number. Fewer might know that most bicycles have them too. Before you take yours out, write down the serial number and keep it somewhere safe in case yours gets stolen.

Photo by Richard Masoner

Having your bicycle’s serial number handy can help police track down and identify your bike much faster. Because bicycles aren’t registered, it’s more difficult to prove that a given bike is yours even if they find it, but knowing the serial number gives you a leg up. As one commenter on Reddit with experience in law enforcement explains:

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been able to recover stolen bikes. One of my best arrests was sending this thief to prison for 2 years because he had a stolen bike and the victim wrote the serial number down. Not lack of trying but lack of serial numbers or identifiable marks is what limits bikes being located. Plus If two people make claim to a bike and no one has proof that it is theirs, then how can I make a decision on who is the owner. I don’t know about you but I run into stolen stuff all the time that I can’t prove is stolen because no one writes down serial numbers.

The flip side for buyers, of course, is to keep an eye out for serial numbers when purchasing a bike from a private seller. While it’s not impossible for a thief to try to scratch out a serial number, any legitimate seller shouldn’t have a problem providing one. This can help reduce the motivation for bike thieves to steal bicycles to begin with.

LPT Bikes have serial numbers. Write yours down and keep it in a safe place [Reddit]


  • Just be careful here, that number stamped into the bottom of your frame isn’t it’s serial number. It’s the batch number. When identifying bikes that are stolen it’s likely going to be just as good as a serial number (as it’s unlikely the same thief would have stolen enough of the same make and model bike to get 2 from the same batch!), but for the purposes of warranties and stuff like that it’s different.

  • HA! I had a bike pinched from Uni, went and got a new bike, month later that got pinched too. Thought stuff it, I’ll report it this time, the guy at the bike shop had written the serial number down in the booklet that comes with the bike. His handwriting was terrible but the police station took the details anyway. A week later (after I’d already bought another new bike) I get a call from an officer from a ‘Second Hand Dealer Department’ saying he’d found my bike! It had been taken to a pawn shop and even though the serial number the officers took was slightly incorrect they were still able to pick it up! I mentioned a few details of the bike which they confirmed before I wandered to the station, signed the stat dec and off I went. Now I’ve got 2 bikes!

    • Huh. Fat lot of good that did for me. Had my bike nicked from my garage while I was away on holidays, provided the serial number to police and never heard a peep back. Guess your thieves were total n00bs at the whole robbery thing to take it to a pawn shop. Mine’s probably been filed off and hawked off on gumtree or something.

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