Are Electric Bikes More Likely to Get Stolen? [STATISTICS]
Ever since I became an owner of an electric bike last year, I started becoming gravely concerned about the safety of my bike.
In the past, I only ever rode “cheap” bikes.
And while I’ve done my best to protect them (mostly), I wasn’t too worried about one getting nicked. Qué será, será and all that.
But that was when my bike was worth a couple of hundred quid. I didn’t want to have to buy another bike, but in the worst case scenario, the cost wouldn’t be too abhorrent.
However, my electric fat bike cost €1,699. That is not an expense that wants repeating in a hurry.
And it’s not just my unwillingness to spend a lump on replacing a bike. It’s also the fact that e-bikes (especially eye-catching fat e-bikes like mine) will trigger dollar signs in the eyes of potential thieves.
At least, that’s my assumption…
So before looking into how to protect your electric bike from being stolen, let’s take a look at e-bike theft stats.
- How Many E-Bikes Are Stolen Each Year?
- Preventing E-Bike Theft
- Do E-Bike Batteries Get Stolen?
- E-Bike Insurance
E-Bike Theft Statistics
One of the biggest challenges about gathering data about bicycle theft is that only 1 in 3 bike thefts are usually reported to the police. Why? Because victims of bike theft typically believe that telling the police is a waste of time and that the force is incapable (or unwilling) to find your bike.
And while it’s true that the police are unlikely to investigate individual cases, they do manage to crack professional bike thief organisations regularly and thus seize great swathes of bikes when they do.
But then another problem emerges… the police don’t know who many of the bicycles belong to as many bikes haven’t been reported stolen. It is, therefore, always worth reporting a bicycle theft to your local police service within 24 hours of it happening (24 hours is also usually the window that your bicycle insurance gives you to report it to the police).
The other problem with calculating how many e-bikes are stolen per year is that electric bikes are still very new to the mainstream market. However, one study in the Netherlands found that electric bikes are three times more likely to be stolen than regular bikes.
So, let’s do some quick maths to figure out the likelihood of an electric bicycle being stolen…
In the UK, despite only about 100,000 bike thefts being officially reported per year, estimates have shown the reality is closer to 376,000. And with around 30 million bicycles in the UK, we can estimate that 1 in 79 bicycles are stolen each year (i.e. 1.3% chance). Obviously there are many ways you can increase or decrease your chances, but this is just the broad figure.
A study in the Netherlands also found that electric bikes are three times more likely to be stolen than a regular bike. Which, if the same pattern was to be found in the UK (which is likely given their high value), would mean that 1 in 26 e-bikes would be stolen each year (i.e. 3.8% chance of your e-bike being stolen per year).
The UK government doesn’t currently differentiate between “bikes” and “e-bikes” in their bicycle theft statistics, but we start to paint a bleak picture about the risk of owning an electric bike.
How Many E-Bikes Are Stolen Each Year?
Studies have shown that electric bikes are three times more likely to be stolen than non-electric bikes, due to their high value. In the UK, the chance of a regular bike being stolen each year is approximately 1.3%. The chance of an electric bike being stolen is about 3.8% per year.
This is undoubtedly bleak reading. But not all bike thefts are the same and there are many, many things you can do to make your bicycle harder to steal and, even if it is stolen, more likely to be returned or, failing that, refunded.
How Do I Keep My Electric Bike From Being Stolen?
Did you know the two places that a bicycle is most likely to be stolen from?
The first one I’m sure you know: public urban areas.
But the second one may take you by surprise: your own property – specifically sheds and garages. People let their guard down at home, but sheds and garages are typically very easy to break into and people don’t normally lock their bike up in their home shed or garage. In the case of a shed, especially, a thief usually just needs to break a simple door padlock and they’ll quickly make off with your prized ride.
TIP 1: Bring your bicycle inside your home (especially at night)
But if you really need to leave it in a shed or garage, lock it up as if you had a left it in a very rough part of town and attach it to a bicycle anchor if you have nothing secure to lock it to.
Making an Electric Bike Theft Proof
I obviously don’t need to tell you about the importance of locking a bicycle. But it does amaze me the amount of bikes I see “locked” up that I know I could steal with my bare hands in about one minute. Not that I ever would, of course…
The number one mistake when locking a bike? Attaching your bike lock only to your wheel (let alone a front wheel with a fast-release skewer!). A thief will happily leave your wheel safely locked up while he takes off with the rest of your bicycle.
TIP 2: Always ensure your bike lock goes around the frame of your bike
If you like keeping your bicycle in one working piece, you’re probably going to want to keep the wheels and seat attached to your bike too.
That leads me on to a common tactic among bike thieves…
Some bike thieves steal or damage part of your bike during the day (such as taking a seat or wheel or flattening a tyre) in order to make it unrideable. When the bike owner returns to their damaged bike, they are then likely to swear, grumble and then opt to take another mode of transport in order to get home, with the plan of fixing the bike the next day.
But this gives the bike thief the perfect opportunity… a whole night to steal your bike with barely anyone around to question their intent.
TIP 3: Move your bike immediately if it has been damaged or had parts stolen
Not sure how to securely attach your bike seat to your bike? Check out these anti-theft seat clamps and locks.
Are Electric Bikes Easily Stolen?
Electric bikes are just as easy to steal as regular bikes. How difficult a bicycle is to steal depends on its location and how well the bicycle has been locked.
The most important factor in prevent an e-bike from being stolen is location. Whenever possible, store your bicycle indoors (but still lock it). If this isn’t possible, try to lock it in a busy area that ideally has CCTV.
How to Lock Electric Bike
You should use a minimum of two Sold Secure (ideally Gold or Diamond rated) locks to secure an electric bike (even better if the lock also has an alarm). The object to which you lock your bike should be attached to the bike frame (plus a wheel if possible), while the other lock should connect your frame to the other wheel.
Do Electric Bikes Batteries Get Stolen?
Electric bike batteries have a significant risk of being stolen due to their high value, which makes them a target for thieves. While e-bike batteries normally come with a built-in lock and key, a thief with decent lock picking skills will be able to remove this lock in very little time.
With prices starting at around £500 while being relatively easy to steal, it’s no wonder that electric bike batteries are a common target of thieves. But is there any way you lock your electric-bike in public areas without being worried sick about someone nicking your battery?
E-Bike Battery Lock
Aside from the built-in lock that attaches the battery to your bike, there aren’t a whole of other other bespoke e-bike battery locks currently available. So, for now at least, you’ll need to get a bit creative in other ways to secure your battery.
There most obviously solution would be to snugly wrap around a long chain lock around the battery pack and the frame. This would, at least, make it more difficult for a potential thief to remove the battery even if they were able to pick the lock.
TIP 4: Wrap a long chain lock around your bike battery and frame if you have to leave it in a public place
How to Combat E-Bike Theft
It’s clear that e-bikes are hot property. Not just for people looking to buy one, but also the prats looking to acquire one via less-than legal means.
So, if you are prepared to splash out on a flash new e-bike, make sure that you also splash out on the best bike locks and comprehensive electric bike insurance too. High value bicycles are exponentially more likely to be stolen than cheap bikes, so you need to go the extra yard when protecting it too.
TIP 5: Insure your electric bike!
E-Bike Theft Insurance
Again, when I had a cheap bike, I didn’t bother with insurance. If I needed a new bike for whatever reason, I’d go back to the bike shop and spend a couple of hundred quid.
However the idea of spending well over a grand on another electric bike is not something I am eager to do. So just as you might do with more valuable things like your home or a car, e-bike theft insurance seems a wise option.
How Much Does Electric Bike Insurance Cost?
The price of insurance can vary depending on what your policy covers (e.g. theft, third-party liability, injury etc.), your age, your claim history, your bike value, the excess you’re willing to pay and your address. The price for basic theft coverage for an electric bike worth £1,000 in the UK starts at £40 per year.
You can also add your e-bike to your home insurance policies in some instances but take great care to read the conditions of your coverage, as standard policies won’t cover theft that takes place away from your property.
Best Electric Bike Insurance Companies
E-Bike Theft FAQs
Are E-Bikes Safe to Leave Outside?
While it is possible to leave an e-bike outside, there are at a significantly higher risk of being stolen than non-electric bikes. Therefore, bring your electric bike inside whenever possible and don’t forget to lock it, even if its in a shed or garage.
Are E-Bikes Targeted by Thieves?
Electric bikes are more likely to be targeted by thieves due to their higher value. Studies have shown that e-bikes are three times more likely to be stolen than normal bicycles.
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