Bike stolen? Hello spring

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Last year Switzerland saw the theft of not only more expensive bikes, but a significantly higher number of thefts overall. In cities such as Basel, Bern, and Biel, the probability of becoming a victim of bike theft was especially high.

Spring temperatures beckon bike enthusiasts outside, which entices bike thieves as well. AXA usually records around 50% more bike thefts in April than in February. In the summer months, the figure is even more than double as high. This seasonal distribution has remained stable over the years, but what stands out in AXA’s latest claims statistic: In 2022, the number of bikes stolen increased sharply. Across Switzerland, 8,900 bikes insured with AXA were stolen, one-fifth more than in the previous year. The theft rate in 2022 was the highest on record since 2015 (1.2%, or 1 in every 84 bikes).

Last year in Switzerland saw the theft of not only more expensive bikes, but a significantly higher number of thefts overall.

CHF 18 million in damage

Stefan Müller, Head of Property Claims at AXA, isn’t surprised that the number of thefts is higher than in 2020 and 2021: “We know of organized criminal groups that move bikes out of Switzerland. During the pandemic, it was more difficult to do this due to limited cross-border mobility. However, there must be another reason why the rate is higher than in the years prior.” One possible explanation is that there has been a veritable bike boom and that the theft potential has increased accordingly. Over the years, the average claim amounts and thus total claims have also risen. Last year, AXA paid nearly CHF 18 million for stolen bikes – CHF 2,000 per claim. Just five years prior, the average claim was CHF 1,250, or 40% less. “The reason for this is that bikes have gotten more expensive and increasing numbers of expensive bikes are in circulation – lucrative loot for thieves,” Stefan Müller explains.

Caution advised in Basel

A look at a map of Switzerland shows that not all cantons were affected by bike theft in equal measure. In Basel-Stadt in 2022, the risk of having a bike stolen (rate 3.0%, 1 in 33 bikes) was eight times higher than in Ticino, which holds the bottom spot on the ranking at 0.4%. Other bike-theft hotspots include Basel-Landschaft (2.2%) and the cantons of Solothurn (1.8%) and Lucerne (1.6%). There was less cause for concern for cyclists not only in Ticino, but also in Glarus (0.4%), Valais (0.5%), and in Appenzell Innerrhoden (0.6%).

In Basel-Stadt in 2022, the risk of having a bike stolen was eight times higher than in Ticino.

“We cannot conclusively explain the regional differences,” says Stefan Müller. “In addition to border proximity, being a city with a high number of bikes could be a driver, as their is of course ample 'supply' for thieves.” The difference between urban and rural areas is also discernible in the statistic: Eight of the ten largest Swiss cities have a bike theft rate above the Swiss national average. Only Lugano (0.1%) and Lausanne (0.9%) are below the average. Basel (3.1%), Bern (2.3%), and Biel (2.2%) lead the ranking. In Basel, the risk was almost thirty times higher than in Lugano.

How to protect your bike

If you take some precautions, the risk of your bike being stolen can be minimized. “If possible, bikes should be parked where they can be locked and monitored,” Stefan Müller recommends. Securing the bike with a lock at a fixed location so that it can’t be taken away provides additional protection. If the bike is stolen anyway, the theft should be reported to the police as soon as possible. If you know the brand, exact model, and frame number, there is a greater likelihood that you will see your bike again. 

Insurance coverage for bikes

  • Bike theft at home is automatically covered by household contents insurance. 
  • If your bike is stolen when you are away from home, household contents insurance will also cover the loss provided coverage for “ordinary theft away from home” is included in the policy. 
  • It is also possible to insure yourself against damage to your bike. At AXA, you can take out supplementary coverage for this purpose – “extended coverage for luggage, sports, and leisure equipment” – which can be especially worthwhile for expensive bikes.

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