Bike theft

Download the presentation – Last upated: 10 May 2022


Last updated: 11 Nov 2020

Many people have had their bicycle stolen. This is one of the main reasons people stop cycling. An integrated plan is needed, covering actions by the police, the justice system, the creation of a central depot and an efficient registration system, and awareness-raising as to how to lock a bike securely with a solid lock. (Cycling priority)

Bike theft from public places is a sad reality, and it’s a big and growing problem in Brussels. The often slow police reaction and the justice system have a lot of work to do to catch up. One day you will be able to buy a bike that can’t be stolen. But in the meantime, there is a lot you can do to minimise the risk of losing your bike to criminals.

Protect your bicycle from three kinds of theft:

  1. Opportunity: theft of unlocked bikes by people walking nearby.

    1. For this purpose any kind of simple lock works. Although cable locks are easily cut and are discouraged, but still they prevent grab-and-go.
    2. Lock both the front and back wheel, and possibly your saddle.
    3. Optionally you can use security bolts for the wheels and saddle, like, or Abus Nut.
    4. These locks prevent drunk party people having fun steeling your front wheel or saddle, children playing with things they should not play with, tourists trying their chances. Or such a lock would would have prevented the walk-away by an 80 year old grandpa with the 5000€ mountain bike of my friend in front of a suburban bike shop, while he was discussing about hydraulic brakes inside.
  2.  Grab-and-go: casual thieves.

    1. These thieves usually work in pairs or in trio, one cuts the lock, and the other runs away with the bicycle. They mostly have simple tools, like a strong wrench, a saw, or a bigger bolt cutter.
    2. Invest in a strong lock, which usually cost between 70-100 Euro. U-locks will make it harder for thieves, and a 13 mm diameter U-lock can only be cut with an angle grinder (example: Abus X-Plus 540 – it also has one of the best anti-lock-picking mechanics).
    3. Use two U-locks, or a U-lock and security bolts. These usually steer away casual thieves, and they look for an easier prey.
    4. Make sure the lock doesn’t touch the ground. If the lock or chain touches the ground, it makes it easier to be cut with a bolt cutter. Why? Try cutting a chain with a bolt cutter, and you’ll see!
  3. Organized: using special tools, in teams.

    1. These thieves pinpoint your bicycle, and wait for the opportunity to steel it.  This type of theft is difficult to be prevented by locks. However, you can invest in the Altor Lock SAF, which is angle-grinder proof, and very difficult to pick.
      1. Common techniques include tampering the lock mechanism, or attaching an extra big lock/chain, so you must leave the bike there for overnight. This way they can come back to cut off your original locks with heavier equipment later when you have left.
      2. Most common bicycle locks can be picked with simple tools in 1-2 minutes (costs €50 on ebay), or can be cut with a battery powered angle grinder (costs €150 in Brico).
        Do you think we are exaggerating?
      3. Google for “brand-name lock-picking”, and in a few minutes you find the youtube tutorial on how to pick your lock.
    2. Buy a theft insurance for your bicycle. These can be bought when you buy a new bike with a lock, and they reimburse 80% of the original price towards a new bike purchase. In Belgium, the theft can be declared on-line at
    3. Get your bike registered with an official number. This helps to claim your bike in the rare case if it is found. In Brussels, this services is accessible via

General precautions to do all the time:

  1. Use the institutions’ garages and other secure parking. Parking your bicycle in front of the buildings is faster, but less secure.
  2. Use fixed-to-the-ground items to lock your bike. Avoid:
    1. Avoid street signs that can be removed
    2. Avoid street posts without a sign on the top – the bike can lifted up by standing on a box
    3. Avoid U-shape rails (arceau-en-U) that are fixed with bolts to the ground, like those near Berlaymont’s entrance
    4. Avoid weak trees
  3. Aim for direct sight visibility, and watch your bike from the window of the café, peek at your bike from the terrace of the appartment. Avoid leaving your bike unattended in public places, especially in the evening, even if it is locked.
  4. In the unfortunate event that you are a victim of bike theft:
    1. make sure you report it to the police in person or online (it only works if you have Belgian ID card with a chip) and
    2. let the EUCG Committee know.
    1. You can search, the police database to see whether it has been recovered.
    2. If you hire a service bike and it’s stolen on work premises always report the theft to your security officer.
  5. Buy a folding bicycle, and keep it in your office and apartment – of course, still locked in your office.
  6.  Have several bicycles, and use your cheap-old-ugly bike in case you need to leave it unattended for long.
  7. For electric bikes, remove the display/head-unit from the handlebar, and if you park the bike for several hours, also remove the battery. The head-unit costs 100+ €, the battery costs 3-800€.

Are you witnessing a crime?

  1. We suggest not to intervene directly, in line with the Police’s recommendation. The last thing you want that some crazy people stab you with a knife, or worse, rob you?! No bike is worth a kidney operation, or a year of therapy to recover from the trauma of being attacked.
  2. Instead pull away to a safe distance, and call the police on 112. Let the operator control the conversation. Stay on-line until the police arrives, or the operator hangs up.
  3. The police will probably ask for the following details:
    1. Type of crime (automobile theft, assault, etc.)
    2. Location of the crime (street address and cross streets.)
    3. Description of suspects (height; build; color of eyes, hair and skin; clothing and disguises; special marks or unusual features such as scars and tattoos; and weapons, tools or vehicles used).
    4. Description of property or person(s) being subjected to criminal activity

Do you still think bike theft won’t happen to you?

Instead of wasting time on Facebook or pointless web surfing, spend an hour by watching:

Lock and insurance recommendations, especially for e-bikes

The presentation on How to buy an e-bike has extensive tips with brands, lock types,  insurance packages in the annex/bonus section.

You can watch or download it on this page: How to buy an e-bike?


  1. Even worse in Luxemburg: in the BECH building hosting Eurostat, there are exactly 0 (zero) indoor parking places for bicycles. Inappropriate bike racks (where you can attach your wheel only) can be found outside. Also the few service bicycles are parked outside – summer and winter, day and night…. Bike(s) got stolen outside during the velo Mai challenge. At the same time, the huge commercial center has 3 floors of underground parking, with one easily accessible ground level entrance. But – guess what – zero parking places or racks for bicycles.
    OIL, please help remedy this dismal situation. Would be great if EUCG could support our Lux cyclists, too. Thanks.

  2. same problem in NERVIENS 105 – not enough rack for bikes….and places for motocycles !!!

  3. To specify the problem in Charlemagne: The bike stand on -1 has indeed insufficient space. When complaining, OIB points to a new bike stand on -2, but it is unattractive for several reasons and therefore no real alternative for most of us. It is difficult to understand what OIB’s problem is in sacrificing some of the plenty of parking space for cars available in -1 and give it to bikes.

  4. In SPA3 there are not enough racks, but it is easy to install an additional one because there is space. I already had contact with you on this, but nothing happened.
    Thanks for looking into it.
    Our garage is easy to access and many people from other buildings put their bikes there.

  5. Relating the theft of bicycles, It is astonishing that the Parliament “Vigilis” area ends right before the big bicycle parking in Rue Wiertz, leaving the bicycles effectively unprotected.

    Could you put some pressure in EP administration to sort this out, expanding the Vigilis area by some 100 sq m?

  6. Same in Charlemagne building. There is a shortage of bike parking space. Spaces are also occupied by bikes which are apparently no longer used. Increasing adequate bike space, who could address this quickly?

  7. I fully agree. A quick jump to a building doesn’t implies that I want to find the entrance of the parking and then find my way through stairs, etc. I just want to let my bike at the entrance and find a place where to lock it. By the way, Guimard has some but too few.

  8. Quality bike parking places should be made available in front of all EC buildings, for staff and visitors alike. At the moment the facilities are embarassingly absent from many buildings. This will help visitors to come by bike, but also help employees who are running quick errands, as well as increasing the visibility of bicycles. I agree that secure indoor parking can be desirable, but it is also not always obvious, and can be slower to access.

  9. I think we should address the increasing for bike stands in the EC parkings. In my Belliard28 building, the bike parking is full , even before the nice spring days will come. We should address that quickly.

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