Yep, my bike was stolen. It can happen to anyone, and in fact has happened to me more than once. I have been able to retrieve some. A stolen bike is sad thing, but not completely hopeless!
Besides me, the victim was my "Andre Bertin." The bike was coming up to 30 years old, and is loaded with memories. Bertin is out of France, and this one was from Hallet's World Champion Bike in Albuquerque. I've coached juniors from it, toured on it, and hauled it around the country with me. It is my favorite commuter, now that I installed a tall stem and moustache handlebars. If I were to try to sell it, I might get $30, but only because people do not recognize art anymore. Seriously, it was not a valuable bike, and the person who now has it must be regreting taking it. Not the least of which, the saddle is 94cm (37 inches) from the clipless pedals. Riding away this bike must not have been a pretty sight.
The Scene of the CrimeThe theft ocucred at my house, and right out of the garage. Thefts like this also rob you of a sense of security and safety. The Bertin was on a hook hung in the garage, with the garage door open. We were home at the time, making it a brazen person to simply walk in, grab it, and go. Luckily, the Clark-Kent MTB and Tanguy road bike are still there.
Your chances, and my chances, of recovery are slim, but not zero. Act quickly, first by calling the police. If you intend to file an insurance claim, you will most likely need a police report and the case number.
In a case like this one, if you can, start looking. Begin by covering your neighborhood quickly. The best way is, of course, by bike. Borrow one or use our other bike to ride around and look. Look where people ride, such as skate parks, schools, etc.
We all have heard stories about thieves using sophisticated methods, such a liquid nitrogen or torches to get a lock open, but that is not not always the case, or even the common theft. It is likely my bike is now in a ditch or behind some building, abandoned.
PreventionTo state the obvious, don't let it happen to you. Keep the garage door shut. Better yet, keep the bikes locked. Even a simple and inexpensive cable would have stopped my ride-away theft. A favorite locking system of mine is a long cable with a changeable combination padlock. You can tell someone the combination if they need to open the lock, and then you can always change the combination later if you want.
Register your bike. My Bertin is in fact registered in several cities....but not where I am currently living. Many police departments offer bicycle registration. Take advantage of this service. It would help, however, if serial numbers were standardized on bikes. The automotive industry has done a good job with in the VIN number (vehicle identification numbers).
Take the time to get a good picture of your bike. Set up a shot with a clean and simple background. Make sure the brand is visible in the shot, and get close so the bike fills the frame. This will help with insurance collection. Create a simple flyer and get these to local bikes, and post them where you can. Offering reward can help, but it can be sometimes backfire. I once offered a reward for a stolen Mondia, and paid out to get back a bent frame, buckled from the thief hitting a curb full on.
Hand out a simple flyer.
If you are lucky, as I have been in the past, you may actually see you bike. Be careful about just grabbing it. Consider simply using a lock and cable to secure it in place, and then call the police.
It may not happen that you get back your bike, but it is worth the effort to try. Bikes are only machines, but they are also a vehicle for memories. The Bertin has Nervar cranks from a friend here in Minnesota, a water bottle cage from a friend in Texas, and the front hub from mechanic in Colorado. The thief doesn't know this or care, but I will miss this bike and what it stood for. Don't let this happen to you!
The Bertin in happier times.