Adding bike owner identification markings

You walk out of a building and head to the bike rack. Not seeing your bike, you feel more disoriented than alarmed. Where DID I park it? You start wandering towards your other usual lockup spots...

At about the same time, a nearby patrolling police officer spots a kid riding a bike that seems inappropriate for him. It's too big. It's an expensive road bike.

The officer stops the youth and asks where he got the bike.

From a friend.

Looking all over the bike, the officer sees no identifying marks except the serial number. She radios that number to the police station, which finds no report or record for it.

The officer knows perfectly well that the bike is stolen. She lets the kid go free, and never sees him again.

OK, I'm not the world's best fiction writer. But this story hardly can be considered fiction. Scenes like this happen daily.




A bicycle's serial number is usually stamped into the frame on the bottom of the bike. Record that number somewhere. If your bike is stolen, you can give the number (preferably with a photograph) to the police and any local vendors of used bikes (like pawnshops).

People living in the USA can register bikes with the National Bike Registry.

Using an etching tool or permanent marker, write identifying information (e.g. your driver's license number, name, and phone number) on each of your bikes. A good place is next to the serial number or some other place where police will probably look. The officer in my story above could have made good use of this information.

Suppose a thief grinds away the serial number and anything you wrote onto your bike. Imagine you later spot the bike at a pawnshop, police auction, on the street, etc. How can you prove that the bike is yours? I can think of a few ways:

It also helps if you report the theft to police as soon as you discover that the bike is missing.

By the way, if you find your bike, don't confront the new owner. Let the police handle it. If you can prove the bike is yours, it will be returned to you. Well, this is true at least in my part of the world. Maybe things work differently elsewhere.