I park my bike every workday in a relatively busy UK city street where bicycle theft is fairly common. I use a very sturdy lock and always chain it through both wheels and a bike rack. Even so, I lost a bike last year a few blocks away, and a colleague reported having lost four (even old ones) in short order. So when I found that someone had looped their bicycle chain through my frame and the bike rack yesterday evening I was more than a little worried that someone did it so they could take their sweet time destroying the lock overnight (They didn't).

Since carrying around power tools and the receipt for my bike at all times is impractical, what can I do in this kind of situation?

  • 3
    Is it possible they locked in a hurry and didn't notice? I did that once before while rushing to a train I was late for :/
    – Tim Malone
    Jun 4, 2016 at 23:56
  • Definitely. I'm just not sure that will always be the case.
    – l0b0
    Jun 5, 2016 at 9:23
  • 1
    Whatever you decide, put a new lock around your bike. An extra sturdy one.
    – Mast
    Jun 5, 2016 at 14:46
  • 6
    @Adam The other bike was gone next morning, so it's another point for stupidity in the eternal stupidity v. malice challenge :)
    – l0b0
    Jun 13, 2016 at 7:12
  • 3
    @l0b0 cool! An OP that actually comes back and tells us what happend next
    – Kiwu
    Jun 28, 2016 at 12:24

5 Answers 5


Can you use a "spare" lock to attach your bike to theirs with a telephone # or other contact information?

With your lock securing both bikes to the bike rack, you have a much better chance to meet the person to exchange "favours" when they're ready to leave with their bike.

It's not convenient; but, there's a chance you'll get back the bike and the lock, too. You'll be able to assess the damage caused by the double-locking if any. There's a good possibility that they also don't carry power tools; but, there're no guarantees.

"Double-locked" is in pretty stable condition. That should give you a bit of time to point it out to the police who may have an agreeable solution to your current stalemate.

  • if it was a prelude to stealing your bike it would be gone by now...
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:53
  • What problem does this solve?
    – paparazzo
    Jun 8, 2016 at 12:01

There's a small chance this is malicious - is the other bike nice or a cheap junker? Don't take your lock off and leave it with only their lock attached, else the bike could be stolen by other-bike-owner, or any miscreant that wanders through.

Though most likely Hanlon's razor applies:

never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

  • 1
    This is something I've heard of before tho - they lock both bikes together as now the 'innocent' bike can't be removed. They return late at night and cut off the 'innocent' lock, undo theirs and steal the bike. Jun 5, 2016 at 16:13

Call the police....explain the situation and maybe you could break the other lock together (without looking like a bike thief). I'm sure that locking another one's bike is illegal.

Then you may want to put another lock to his bike or the police could take his bike leaving contact information at the site. The police should have the old lock so that the 'owner' will prove that he has a key for it, thus the bike is really his.

I know that this will be disturbing for the other owner but he deserves it after what he's done.


It's probably an unfortunate mistake. You can either wait until the other owner arrives or your bike will be spending the night there. It probably isn't worth the time an effort to try to break the lock.


If the other bike is only chained to your bike and nor the bike rack, unchain your bike and take the whole lot home. Possibly leave a note for the other bike owner, but I'd be inclined to let them suck eggs! Once you have the bikes at home, use whatever tools you need to unchain the second bike (grinder, hacksaw etc.) and then hand it in to the local police station.

  • 3
    I agree. Take it home. It's your bike, and the other guy's problem, not yours.
    – user207421
    Jun 5, 2016 at 5:02
  • 16
    Recommending that someone take something that isn't theirs doesn't seem like good advice.
    – jamesdlin
    Jun 5, 2016 at 8:12
  • 2
    As a non-bike rider, I would think that it would be rather hard to get two chained-together bikes home.
    – Bobson
    Jun 5, 2016 at 14:27
  • 4
    As a bike rider, I would think that it would be rather hard to get two chained-together bikes home.
    – Stan
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:07
  • 2
    -1 ... would never advocate theft, even 'temporarily'
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 5, 2016 at 16:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.