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Reader Question: What should I do if my bicycle is stolen in France?

The Local France
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Reader Question: What should I do if my bicycle is stolen in France?
People ride their bicycle on a bicycle path in Paris on April 5, 2022. (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

It is unfortunately a very common crime - hundreds of thousands of bicycles are stolen across France every year. Here is what you should do if it happens to you.


In France, at least 400,000 bicycles are stolen every year, with over one thousand stolen per day.

While it is difficult to recover a stolen bicycle in France, there are some steps you can take to potentially find your bike - or to at least get some compensation for the loss.

Declare it stolen

This is the first step. Once you discover that your bicycle is missing, you should plan to spend some time at the police station nearest to you. To minimise the time spent waiting at the station, you can fill out a pre-complaint online (a pré-plainte). You can find the link to do so HERE.

Once you get to the station (commissariat in French), you will need to bring some specific documents along: proof of purchase (a receipt or invoice from when you bought your bicycle), your Bicycode or TAGid identification number (more on this below), and any photos of your bike that you might have.


Use the internet

Once you have officially declared your bicycle stolen, you can start to do some of your own investigating while you wait for the police to do theirs. 

Start by reporting your bicycle stolen on dedicated bike theft websites. One such site is "Vé" - on this site you can both register your bicycle and declare it stolen. It is run by an association that helps to collaborate work between local authorities, police, and individual community members to help find stolen bikes. 

Another website you might consider using is Velhome, which offers a nationwide map of stolen bikes, allowing you to identify areas that are particularly risky when it comes to bicycle theft. While that may not help you if your bicycle is already missing, it could help prevent a future theft. 

You can also join Facebook groups for bicycle theft. Most cities in France have one, so you should be able to find one that pertains to the area you live in. These groups can be particularly helpful as people offer advice and post links to possible stolen bikes they have come across, whether online or in person. 

Once you have reported your bicycle as stolen on the relevant websites, you can start searching for it online via resale platforms. Oftentimes, when a bicycle is stolen, it is resold on websites such as LeBonCoin, Ebay, Troc Vélo and Facebook Marketplace. By putting in your bicycle's specific information, you may be able to find it yourself. 

Look into whether your insurance covers you

There is a chance - depending on where your bicycle was stolen - that you may be able to be reimbursed by your home insurance. If your bicycle was stolen from your home or apartment building, then your home insurance will likely cover you, as long as you can show proof of an official complaint to the police and that certain protective measures were taken to secure the bike (i.e. it was locked with an anti-theft device). 

It will be a bit trickier to get assistance from your home insurance if your bicycle is stolen on the street - even if that is very close to where you live.

Ultimately, it will depend on the level of insurance you signed up for, so you should check the conditions and limits of your coverage before filing for a reimbursement with your insurance provider.


If you are able to report the theft to your insurance company, you will need certain documents: an invoice showing you purchased a bicycle lock, the number of your insurance contract, a purchase invoice for your bicycle (though in some cases, a photograph will suffice), the make and model of your bicycle, and proof that a theft report has been filed with the police. You will likely also need to explain the context surrounding the theft - where the bicycle was stolen, the time of day, etc. 

Tips to avoid having your bicycle stolen

Register your bicycle as soon as you buy one -  In France, each year local authorities and police are able to locate approximately 150,000 stolen bicycles, but even so, only a very small percentage ever find their way back to their owners. This is usually because it is difficult or impossible to determine who owns the bicycle. One way to be sure your bike is returned to you after a theft is to get it registered, and there are two primary ways to do so.

The first is with the website and organisation Bicycode. As mentioned above, the Bicycode is an identification number you can give the police when reporting your bike stolen. The unique number is engraved on the frame of your bike and then registered in a national file. This number will be connected to your personal information that you can update on the BicyCode website. 


It costs between €5 and €20 to have your bicycle engraved. You can find a location to do so near you HERE.

The second option is to do get a TAGid number by using the website. This is another national registry where you can upload key information about your bicycle, such as make, model, colour, and serial number. Once you have uploaded this information, you will be given a unique TAGid number for your bicycle. You can also go on this website to report the theft of your bike, as mentioned above.

Keep all the documents - When purchasing your bicycle and even when buying a lock, be sure to hold onto these documents, as they may be necessary to register your bicycle as stolen in the future.

Take care when locking it - This may seem self-explanatory, but bicycles are more easily stolen when locked improperly. The best way to secure your bicycle is to opt for a solid U-shaped lock and to avoid thin cables, which are easier to cut. Always secure your bike to a stationary fixture, even if it's only for a short period of time. 

When locking your bike, be sure to attach the frame and front wheel to a fixed point. If you do not have your bicycle registered, consider adding a characteristic to your bike that would make it more easily identifiable in the event of a theft (eg engraving your initials).


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