50% of Bike Thefts Occur at Home—Here's How To Protect Your Ride

Abus tells us to lock our bikes at home as well as away.

Ground anchor with e-bike
Abus Ground Anchor.

Abus

It's a Treehugger mantra that three things are needed for the e-bike revolution: good affordable bikes, safe places to ride, and secure places to park. Since we wrote that a few years ago, much has changed; many cities opened up bike lanes during the pandemic and some of them are sticking. But e-bikes are still a lot more expensive than regular bikes. There has been an explosion in demand for even more expensive cargo bikes and, alas, more bikes and e-bikes are being stolen every day.

We have written before about the best way to lock an e-bike and got an update from Greg Heck, marketing manager for lock maker ABUS USA. He tells Treehugger the old rules don't apply: "We used to say that you should spend 10% of the value of the bike on the locks, but the bikes are more expensive!"

My bike with 3 locks
My bike with U-lock, folding lock and cable lock. Lloyd Alter

Heck recommends two locks of different kinds—I use an Abus folding lock and an Abus U-shackle— as well as securing the wheels and the seat post. I asked if any of these locks were resistant to an angle grinder, there was an audible sigh as Heck says no. But because its U-shackles lock both sides, it takes two cuts to get through the lock.

alarm lock
Abus Alarm Lock

The best they have to offer is its new Smartx and Alarm 440 locks.

"Our padlock 440 Alarm is equipped with the proven 3D Position Detection System, which registers even the smallest movement. If a thief tampers with your bicycle, the lock sounds the alarm immediately. And at a volume that discourages: 100 decibels is as loud as a circular saw and can therefore be heard from afar. An alarm like that will scare off any bike thief."

But as Casey Neistat demonstrated a few years ago, in New York City you can take an angle grinder to a bike right in front of a police station and nobody will pay any attention to you. Perhaps we all have to use the one-hour rule I learned from another Abus rep: He adds a lock for every hour he is leaving his bike alone. "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike," said the rep.

Meanwhile, Back at Home...

Another Ground anchor
Abus

Heck notes angle grinders weren't the only thing we had to worry about, telling Treehugger: "Over 50% of thefts occur at home, from garages, condo bike lockers, building courtyards, even second-story apartment balconies. A good locking setup is as important at home as it is on the road."

This is certainly the case in cities like Toronto, where more and more people who live in apartments are riding bikes. According to Ben Spurr in The Star:

"The police statistics suggest bike robberies of all kinds are on the rise, and the pandemic, during which  more people appear to be riding, hasn’t slowed thieves down. The number of bike thefts reported each year rose by more than 25 percent between 2014 and 2020. Those numbers likely underestimate the problem, because a significant number of thefts aren’t reported to police. Of the bikes that are called in, only 1.2 percent are recovered."

Abus has a line of floor or ground anchors with 5/8*-inch thick shackles that come with three-inch-long anchor bolts that you bang into solid concrete. Heck notes that many condo developers are installing these at the ends of parking spaces.

Carl Ellis of TheBestBikeLock.com does a thorough review of floor anchors, explaining how to install them and noting: "Installing a ground anchor at home or work is one of the best things you can do to improve the security of your bicycle or motorbike. And if it's properly installed, the vast majority of thieves will simply walk away when they see it."

Ellis recommends a heavy chain lock fastened to the ground anchor as being the most secure, and concludes: "With the right set up, the only way your security system will be defeated is with an angle grinder. And most thieves either won't have one or will be wary about using one where the noise and light they generate can be very disturbing."

It's so aggravating to have rampant bike theft and a 1.2% recovery rate—it's almost like the police don't care. Perhaps instead of these silly campaigns to license bicycles, we should launch a campaign to license angle grinders. Because if we are going to have a true e-bike boom, we need to solve this.

UPDATE: *changed shackle steel dimension from 1/4 to 5/8 inch after sloppy metric conversion.