Register a bike or report a theft
There is no official bike registration system in Seattle or Washington State (although some employers and college campuses require people to register their bikes), reporting bike thefts can be confusing, and recovering stolen bicycles is difficult. As always, the best prevention of bike theft is to lock your bike securely. We provide the following resources for when that's not enough.
Bike registration & stolen bike listings
With more than 44,000 registered bikes and 2,300 successful recoveries, Bike Index is one of the largest registration and theft-recovery sites in the country. Bike registration is simple and can be confirmed by local partners, including Seattle Bike Blog, G&O Family Cyclery, Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles and The Bike Shack. Searching for stolen bicycles is also easy. Bike Index is free and run as a not-for-profit. Register your bike on Bike Index >>
Portland-based Project 529 Garage provides free bike registration, theft reporting and stolen bike listings. Registering your bike is simple and can be confirmed by local partners. You can also get a free sticker that's unique to your bike, effectively giving it a serial numbers (manufacturers' serial numbers are notorious for being hard to find, non-existant and non-uniform), which you can get for free from a local partner, including the University of Washington. Searching for your own or a known stolen bike is easy, and all reported stolen bikes on Bike Index are also searchable in Project 529 Garage. Register your bike on Project 529 Garage >>
Pawn shops and second-hand stores are required to register all used goods for sale on this web service, which is used by police investigators to recover stolen goods. The service is free to businesses. Citizens can also register their goods on the site. However, while police investigators can search for stolen goods, average citizens cannot. Go to LeadsOnline >>
Report a stolen bike
What to do when you get your bike stolen:
- Report the theft to your local police department.
- Mark your bike as stolen on Bike Index and Project 529 Garage, and monitor their stolen bike listings as well as the Seattle Police Department's @GetYourBikeBack Twitter feed.
- If your bike was insured, such as through your homeowners, rental or vehicle insurance policy, contact your insurance company and file a claim.
Where to Report:
- Seattle Police Department
- For bicycles worth $500 or less, use the online form.
- For bicycles worth more than $500, call 206-625-5011.
- Bellevue Police Department
- For bicycles worth $1,500 or less, use the online form.
- For bicycles worth more than $1,500, call 425-577-5656.
- King County Sheriff - online form
- The King County Sheriff provides policing services for Beaux Arts, Burien, Carnation, Covington, Kenmore, Maple Valley, Muckleshoot, Newcastle, Sammamish, SeaTac, Shoreline, Skykomish & Woodinville.
- Port of Seattle (SeaTac Airport)
- Call 206-787-5401
- Pierce County Sheriff & Tacoma Police - online form
- Snohomish County Sheriff & Everett Police - online form
- Seattle Police Department
- Bike Index
- Project 529 Garage
How to lock-up:
- What lock to own & use: In general, use a U-lock worth at least $40. Cheaper locks are easily cut, picked or busted. Make sure the U-lock is big enough to lock around your front wheel, down tube and a 2.5" post. The standard bearer for U-locks is the Kryptonite KryptoLock Series 2 Standard with a cable.
- If you lock your bike for extended period of times on the street or in a public garage or if your bike has quick release wheels, have a second lock that's either another U-lock or heavy duty cable.
- If you have cargo or family bike, you may find that a U-lock doesn't work for you. instead, consider an ABUS folding lock, Sunlight folding lock or TiGr titanium lock.
- Locking up: Always lock your frame and one wheel to the bike rack.
- Locking your front wheel to the frame provides greater stability to your bike if it's knocked around by someone, however some people lock their back wheel instead because it's typically worth more.
- Tug on whatever you're about to lock to make sure it can't be easily removed.
- Avoid locking up to sign posts. Signposts can be easily removed by unbolting them, frequently they're short enough to simply lift the bike over the post, especially if you've used a cable lock.
- In Seattle, many "inverted-U" or "staple" racks have a secondary horizontal rail. This horizontal rail is included because the rack is not securely bolted into the ground. Thieves can easily unscrew the nuts and slide a bike off these racks, unless the bike is properly locked to the rack. So, when locking to one of these racks, lock your U-lock into the vertical bar above the rail, that way a theif cannot slide the bike off the rail (that said, thieves may steal the entire rack with the bike on it). Make sure you lock your bike to the vertical post, not the horizontal rail, on which your bike may slide around on and get damaged if the rack is on a hill or if someone bumps your bike.
- Just because your bike is in plain sight or hidden from sight doesn't mean it's secure. Always lock it up and don't leave it there too long.
- Don't rely on foot traffic to keep your bike safe. Many thefts, particularly those involving cutting cable locks, occur under the cover of crowd activity or in front of bustling cafés or restaurants.
- Don't rely on a bike rack hidden in a public garage to keep your bike safe. Thieves have done their research and know where all the racks are and how easy it is to steal bikes with no one looking. If your locking up in a garage, make sure you lock your bike to an immovable object.
- Don't rely on the presence of cameras to keep your bike secure. Security footage is rarely of much use once a bike is gone, and thieves know this.
- Remove your valuable positions. Thieves regularly steal headlights, taillights and saddles. If you can remove them easily, theives can too. If you have an expensive saddle, such as a Brooks leather saddle, consider adding a permanent small cable to lock the saddle (by its rails) to the frame as a theft deterent.