You go down to your bike and see - no food, it's gone.
You are not alone in this.
Around 278,000 bicycles were stolen in 2019.
Compared to the previous year, this is a slight decrease, but at the same time the bikes have become more expensive according to the Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV), because the insured damage is at the previous year's level at 110 million euros.
The higher quality bicycles are, the more important it is to have good protection.
So what to do
According to experts, there is still no way around classic locks made of steel.
“High-quality padlocks are the safest models and the price-security ratio is also the best here.
Very good U-locks are available from 30 euros, "says René Filippek from the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC).
Nevertheless, it can make sense to enhance physical security with electronic features.
"Bicycle thieves usually don't take the lock with them, so it can be of great help if a bike is also equipped with a GSM or GPS module, for example, which can be used to locate the bike," says David Koßmann from the Fahrrad press service pd-f).
Bicycle theft protection with electricity
However, these are extras that you cannot usually install yourself.
"A separate power supply is always necessary here, and such a module should be attached in such a way that it can be integrated into the bike as inconspicuously as possible," says Koßmann.
Both are also reasons why this has so far only been found on e-bikes.
Some manufacturers such as Riese & Müller and Stromer would also offer tracking modules ex works.
In connection with service contracts, for example, customers could insure their bicycles for costs between 50 and 130 euros per year.
Snap-snap: Bicycle thieves are equipped with various tools, such as bolt cutters, to get on with bikes
There are also special bicycle insurances that offer GPS trackers for e-bikes, for example, in conjunction with an insurance policy.
“In principle, additional theft insurance is worthwhile for expensive bicycles.
Then you can be sure that in the event of theft, at least part of the value will be reimbursed, ”says Filippek.
Bicycles are usually also covered by household insurance, but mostly only in connection with burglary and only up to a certain amount.
Additional bicycle insurance usually costs five to ten euros per month.
Intelligent combinations should put a stop to bicycle thieves
A combination of classic lock and digital tracking without additional installation also offers a new lock system from Abus, which can primarily be used on construction sites or in logistics, but also for bicycles.
The lock, developed together with the mobile phone provider Vodafone, is completely controlled via the smartphone and consists of a shackle or chain and a digitally secured lock.
Smart security: More and more lock models can also be opened and closed using an app
“The lock itself contains a SIM card that transmits to the Internet of Things, which means that it can be located anywhere.
The lock is also equipped with Bluetooth, motion sensors and a GPS transmitter, ”explains Tobias Krzossa from Vodafone.
This means that the secured items can always be traced.
However, the additional security also has its price: In addition to the one-off acquisition costs of around 200 euros, a low single-digit euro amount is due monthly for the SIM card in the Vodafone network, depending on the tariff.
What about data security?
Bicycle expert Koßmann basically considers tracking modules to be a good option for additional security, but also refers to the associated data transfer: "You shouldn't forget that a cyclist uses the position data to create real movement profiles that are of course a real treasure for a hacker." For example, potential bicycle thieves tap into this data, so it is not only easy to see where a bicycle is parked every day, but also when and for how long.
In addition, tracking systems do not guarantee that stolen bicycles will actually be found.
“Such a GPS location is very inaccurate if a bike is stored indoors, for example.
In case of doubt, the police will not search an entire block for a stolen bike, ”says Filippek.
If the stolen goods were taken abroad, one would also have to rely on cooperation with the local authorities.
Overall, however, the market for electronic and digital locks is growing.
Keyless access systems for bikes and cars
"We are currently experiencing a gradual departure from the classic key," says Koßmann.
“More and more bicycle locks are keyless and can be opened by fingerprint or via Bluetooth using a smartphone app.
This is particularly useful when the bikes are shared with family or friends. "
Steel alone is not always enough
The ADFC also considers electronic locking systems to be a good development in terms of security.
"Since no thief is likely to specialize in electronic locking systems yet, the elimination of the conventional locking cylinder means there is one less point of attack here," says Filippek.
If these systems become more widespread, it will depend on how secure the radio links are made.
Alarm - alarm - alarm
In addition, more and more locks are being equipped with additional alarm features.
"Here motion sensors register when someone is tampering with the lock," says Koßmann.
“The reaction is then a very loud alarm tone, which of course initially has a deterrent effect.” With smart locks, the owner also receives a warning via smartphone.
Cyclists still have the greatest possible safety when they combine different systems.
"You should first try everything to prevent theft at all and invest in two very high-quality locks of different designs," says Filippek, "because thieves often specialize in one type of lock."
Electronic watchdog: The Abus alarm box makes noise when thieves are tampering with the bike