Community Relations

The Truth Behind Salt Lake City’s Bike Theft Crisis: How to Keep Your Wheels Safe!

Imagine this: You cycle downtown to meet friends for drinks at a favorite bar. Biking home seems like the perfect and safest way to get around — until you go outside to find an empty space where your bike was securely locked. Unfortunately, this experience is not a rare occurrence.


Bike theft in Salt Lake City has become a pressing concern for cyclists and local authorities alike.

The Issue of Bike Thefts in SLC

Salt Lake City is growing, and more people have embraced cycling as a green and healthy mode of transportation. Unfortunately, cyclists need to be aware of the risks they assume when they lock their bikes in and around SLC. A local resident shared her all-too-common distressing experience with bike theft with Utah Stories: 

“There are homeless gangs in SLC that steal and sell bikes. We had five bikes stolen when we lived in Sugar House from our own garage. [They] cut through the fence and stole three bikes from our garage. Then they came back and picked up the two that were left. We called the police. The police officer came, looked at the garage, and said there was nothing he could do. And that was it.”

Another resident of the Fairpark area of Salt Lake says the issue is right in their face everyday, saying, “I see homeless people on these super nice bikes, the ones that are usually way out of a typical budget … It really makes me stop and think — where did they get that?”

Navigating High-Risk Zones

High-risk areas, notably in the Fairpark and Ballpark neighborhoods of Salt Lake County and certain parts of the downtown area broadly, have been identified as hotspots for such crimes. According to crime data analysis tools and statistics provided by officials, these areas report significantly higher crime rates, underscoring the need for cyclists to adopt vigilant and protective measures.

Insights from the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) and the Bicycle Collective shed light on the critical areas and recommended strategies for securing bikes. Jonathan Dille, Community Programs Manager with the Bicycle Collective, warns against certain locking practices,

“Locking up to a chain link fence is not always a great idea,” Dille said. “Using a stronger lock and locking it in the right place can prevent theft.”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Here are some steps you can do to keep your bike safe in high-risk zones (or better yet, everywhere):

  • High-Quality Locks: Robust U-locks or chain locks are recommended over easily cut alternatives.
  • Strategic Parking: Opting for well-lit, busy locations for parking, especially in safer areas, is crucial.
  • Bike Registration: Enrolling your bike in a registration program can significantly increase the chances of recovery if stolen.
  • Bike Valet Services: Utilized at large events by the Bicycle Collective, these services provide secure parking solutions and reduce the chance of theft.

A Community Effort Towards Safety

Beyond individual actions, fostering a secure environment for cyclists involves collective efforts. Initiatives such as enhanced lighting in known theft hotspots, improved bike parking solutions, and educational workshops on bike security play a critical role in this effort. Collaboration between cyclists, law enforcement, and organizations like the Bicycle Collective is essential in effectively combating bike theft.

Officer Yaier Javaid with the Salt Lake City Police Department encourages bike registration as a tool for anyone acquiring a new or used bike.

“It’s totally free to the public,” Javaid said. “What it does is once you register it, it goes into our database.”

Javaid encouraged bike owners to work with police rather than go looking for the bike on their own: “I think the best thing is to give us a call, okay? Let us do the work. Our main priority is community member’s safety.”

As Salt Lake City continues to bolster its cycling infrastructure, understanding the dynamics of bike theft and implementing comprehensive protective measures are vital for the safety and security of the cycling community. With a combined approach of awareness, robust security practices, and community vigilance, it’s possible to mitigate the risk of theft and ensure that cyclists can continue to enjoy the benefits of biking in Salt Lake City without the looming threat of returning to a space where their bike once stood.

“Don’t leave yourself in the open. Secure it,” Javaid said. “That’s the best way to prevent your bike from getting stolen.”

Feature Image Illustration by Chris Bodily.


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