Are Bike Racks Easy To Steal And Can You Prevent It?

Bike racks generally come in more robust constructions intended for secure bike transportation. But does that make them theft-proof? Are bike racks easy to steal?

Thieves find it easy to steal unlocked bike racks or those left unattended for more extended periods. For that reason, securing racks on the car and keeping an eye on them is critical in preventing theft.     

Note, however, that we’ve opportunist thieves who get attracted to unsecured and unattended bike racks. We also have professional thieves who use tricks to undo the locks and rack fasteners.

Overall, it’s easy to avoid opportunists than professional thieves. Let’s dig deeper into that!

Are Bike Racks Easy To Steal

Are Bike Racks Easy To Steal?

Generally, there are two sets of thieves who can potentially steal your bike, as I mentioned earlier. They are:

Opportunist Thieves

Opportunist thieves are the kind of thieves who are always looking for something unprotected or lightly secured that could earn them some quick cash.

Whenever they see an unsecured or unattended bike rack, they always think it’s a perfect opportunity for them to steal it.

These kinds of thieves don’t have the luxury of time and don’t like attention. They won’t steal a bike that’ll take them a lot of time to unfasten or one that’s in a protected area or where there is a lot of people.

And since they don’t prepare beforehand to steal a particular thing, they usually don’t come with specialized tools.

Professional Thieves

Unlike opportunist thieves, professional thieves come armed with tools to release items and steal them quickly.

They plan for everything in advance and don’t just give up because the rack is locked.

If allowed enough time, these thieves will get away with your bike rack and are hard to track. That’s unless you use a hidden GPS tracker.

Factors That Determine How Easy or Hard It Is To Steal Bike Racks

Some situations or circumstances make it easy or hard for thieves to steal bike racks. They include the following:

a) The Bike Rack’s Mounting Location

The rack’s mounting location can attract or discourage opportunist thieves from trying to steal your bike rack. Generally, opportunist thieves find it easy to steal rear-mounted racks than rooftop options.

With a rooftop rack, you’ve to climb to the car’s roof and try to unfasten the bicycle rack. That takes time, and that’s something they don’t have.

Furthermore, they are likely to be noticed from the roof from a distance.

How Do You Secure A Bike Rack

But if the rack is on the car’s rear, whether it’s on the hitch, spare tire, or trunk, thieves can access it quickly and unfasten it. They are also less noticeable, given that they can hide against the car’s body.

So, it’s always a risk when the rear rack is not secured on the car.

b) Whether the Bike Rack is  Locked Or Not

Thieves find unlocked bike racks easy to steal than unlocked ones. Opportunist thieves, in particular, don’t have the luxury of time – so they’ll want to do everything fast.

That essentially means that your bike rack is safer locked than unlocked.

c) Whether the Bike Rack is Attended To Or Not

Thieves hate to create attention as they don’t want to be caught. For that reason, they prefer to steal bikes that are unattended over extended periods.

Opportunist thieves, in particular, will wait for a window when you get into the supermarket or use the toilet. They strike within those 10-15 minutes that you are not paying attention to your rack.

How Do I Keep My Bike Rack From Being Stolen?

Here are some smart tips for protecting your bike rack from thieves:

1. Lock the Bike Rack Well

You can deter thieves by locking your bike rack in the car. You’ll need a heavy-duty u-lock for that, preferably with a cable to allow you also to lock your bike on the bike rack.

One such lock is the  Via Velo Bike U-Lock (View on Amazon). This heavy-duty bicycle lock allows you to lock your bike on the rack and the rack on the vehicle. That’s owing to its heavy-duty 1.8m cable.

The u-lock is hard to cut and manipulate, making it a good choice for securing your bike rack against thieves. So, it’s a good choice for deterring both opportunists and professional thieves.

How Do I Keep My Bike Rack From Being Stolen

In general, you should remember these tips when locking your bike rack:

  • Lock the u-lock properly against the bike rack and the vehicle
  • Use multiple locks if possible to boost the rack’s security
  • Ensure the bicycle lock or its cable is not easy to cut
  • Don’t forget to lock the bike as it’s equally as crucial as the rack

2. Take the Bike Rack In

Instead of leaving your bike rack on the car unattended for long, consider taking it in. That’s important if you’ve to check into a hotel.

If the rack is portable and dis-mountable, take it in with you into the hotel.

Overall, this is more advisable for rear-mounted racks as they are the most susceptible to thieves.

3. Make the Bike Rack Visible

As I mentioned earlier, thieves don’t like attention. They avoid stealing where they are likely to be noticed.

So, ensure you always keep your bike rack at a close distance, somewhere where you can view it. And if you cannot do it, then you should talk to someone to watch over it for the time.

4. Stay Vigilant

Always stay vigilant. You’ve to watch out for potential thieves.

If you notice someone suspicious around your bike rack, do something about it. You could lock it or take it in with you.

You can also decide not to go far and keep the bike rack within your view.

5. Invest in a Bike Rack GPS Tracker

I mentioned that it’s harder to deter professional thieves as they can easily find a way around the bike lock if offered ample time.

However, you can stop them from stealing the bike or help recover it if stolen by using a GPS tracker.

One such tracker is the Invoxia Cellular GPS Tracker, (Link to Amazon) which allows you to track your rack with your phone. It’s discreet and reliable and not only works on bike racks and bikes but also vehicles.

Do People Steal Bike Roof Racks

Bike Racks FAQs

1. Do People Steal Bike Roof Racks?

People mostly steal bike roof racks when they are unsecured and unattended for extended periods. They, however, find it hard to do it in public places or where the bicycle rack is firmly secured onto the car’s roof and locked.

2. How Do You Secure A Bike Rack?

The first thing to do to secure a bike rack is to properly install it to ensure it doesn’t wobble. And to deter thieves, consider locking the bicycle rack with a hard-to-cut u-lock.  You can also use a GPS tracker to monitor the bike rack.

3. Can Bike Racks Be Stolen?

Bike racks can be stolen if they are unsecured or unattended over more extended periods. On the flip side, it’s hard to steal bike racks if they are locked and within your view.

4. Are Bike Racks Stolen Often?

Bike racks are rarely stolen unless they are unattended to over more extended periods or unlocked. But once they are locked and monitored, it’s harder to steal them.

5. How Do I Lock My Bike Trunk Rack?

You can lock your bike trunk rack onto the car’s trunk using a u-lock with cable. A u-lock like the Via Velo Bike U-Lock allows you to lock both the bicycle rack and the bike.

That’s owing to its heavy-duty hard-to-cut cable.

6. Are Bike Racks Illegal?

Using a bike rack is not illegal. It usually is unlawful in most places if it obstructs your number plate. That’s unless you have an auxiliary plate number.

It may also be illegal in some places if the rack is unsecured on the car or empty (without a bike).

7. How Do I Stop My Bike Rack Theft?

You can stop bike rack theft using these tips:

  • Lock it properly
  • Make it visible
  • Don’t leave it unattended over extended periods
  • Install a GPS tracker
  • Just take it in (don’t leave it outside overnight)

8. Is It Ok To Leave A Bike Rack On a Car?

Most states don’t allow you to drive around town with an empty bike rack on the car. But other than that, someone (a thief) could try to steal the bike rack if unattended over a more extended period.

9. Should I Take My Bike Rack Off When It Rains?

You won’t worry about the rain if you have a premium quality bike rack with rust-proof properties. But to avoid dirtying the bike rack or attracting wetness and rust, consider covering the bike rack on the car using a weatherproof bicycle cover.

Are Bike Racks Easy To Steal? Closing Thought

Generally, thieves find it easy to steal bike racks that are unattended to for extended periods or those that are unsecured. So, the secret to protecting bike racks is securing them and not leaving them alone for long.