Report the theft to the police immediately.
The Met Police are becoming much more aware of bike theft, and the special Cycle Task Force are a good unit to whom to report your loss. Their contact details:
If it’s urgent: 07768 928 456
If it’s less urgent: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cycle Task Force are particularly interested in seeing a picture of your stolen bike, so please email one to them.
You can report the theft to the Metropolitan police online or by phone or in person at your local police station. Ask for your CAD (Computer Aided Despatch) or CRIS (Crime Reference Information System) number. This will help you trace the progress of your case and may be needed for your insurance claim.
In Islington, you can call the police directly – Holloway Station (Hornsey Road) 020 7263 9090, Islington Station (Tolpuddle Street) 020 7704 1212 or for the rest of London call 0845 305 1234.
If your bike is stolen in the City, call the City of London police 020 7601 2000.
There is now a Hackney-specific Cycle Task Force. The unit can be contacted on GDMailbox-.STT/GDCTF@met.police.uk.
Look at bikeshd.co.uk – the site ‘scrapes’ photos onto its home page of each day’s London bike sales from around the web, e.g. from sites like Gumtree, where stolen bikes are often advertised for sale very soon after the theft. A Gumtree ad may also help the police. Stolen bikes also sometimes turn up on eBay so you can look through and see if you can see your bike and on which website it is advertised for sale.
Also email the ICAG yahoo group as we have managed to retrieve bikes in the past. When others know, they make an effort to look out for stolen bikes. However, be cautious about posting on-line when you’ve found your stolen bike on Gumtree or other web-sites. The thieves may notice that the ad is being watched. Report such ads to the police, especially the Cycle Task Force, in the first instance. They have experience in taking action on them. If you post about it openly, you may jeopardise your own chances of getting your bike(s) back. Good luck.
There are various DIY techniques that people have used to get their bikes back. It is not advisable to put yourself or others at risk, but it is of course understandable why people resort to DIY action, e.g. because the police couldn’t help. Hopefully, with increased police action on theft, DIY bike recovery will become increasingly rare.
Some members have managed to retrieve their bicycles the following weekend after the bikes were stolen at Brick Lane Market. Involving a police officer usually means that bikes are quickly reunited with their owners.
Advice from a cyclist (gaz1979): If you spot your stolen bike for sale on-line, one option that has been known to work is to arrange to meet the seller by text message in a busy public place, during the week, and in daylight hours. (e.g. a Tube station). You should then contact the police station nearest to where you have arranged to meet the seller, and explain the situation. The police don’t have the authority to pose as buyers; they need special authorisation to solicit the appearance of a suspect by lying to them. In arranging the meeting yourself, you allow the police to act on information about where and when a suspect is likely to appear in possession of stolen goods. This bypasses a lot of red tape and allows the police to act far faster than they would otherwise be able to. DO NOT go to meet the seller yourself; it is more than likely not worth the risk. The police will take care of everything once they know the meeting place/time. They go in, pose as buyers and make the arrest, while you stick around to give statements/get your bike back. So: ARRANGE THE MEETING YOURSELF VIA TEXT MESSAGES THEN CALL THE LOCAL POLICE AND LET THEM DEAL WITH IT.
Many thanks to Oliver Schick from whose post on lfgss much of this information was gleaned.
Finally a word of caution: Don’t help to create a market in which thieves can operate. When buying a second-hand bike, make sure the seller owns it. When buying a new bike, purchase from a recognised dealer.If and when you replace your bike photograph and register it.