Can car bike racks be stolen? Tips on how to keep your bike and rack safe

You just purchased that bicycle rack that you’ve been eyeing for a while. You’ve just fitted it and, dang! it fits perfectly. But just as you are about to leave, you wonder if it is safe to leave your bike rack on your car.

Maybe you’ve just gone for your first trip with your new bike rack. Being forced to make stops along the way you might wonder how safe is your bike rack.

In this article we answer the question: can car bike racks be stolen?

Can car bike racks be stolen?

While car bike racks theft is rare, there are numerous cases of bike racks with no bikes being stolen. Bicycle racks and accessories can cost up to $1000 and this makes them an easy target for thieves.

The stolen racks end up being sold for cheap on eBay and Craiglist.

Since bike racks are vehicle specific, thieves target popular models to make disposing off the racks quicker.

However, driving a rare car does not make you immune to rack thefts. You have to have your guard up always regardless of the car you drive.

However, as mentioned earlier, bicycle racks theft is not very common. Most thieves just want to grab something quickly and run.

Racks on the other hand need some expertise and patience to unload from the car.  Both of which thieves don’t have unless you park your car in a deserted area.

Are car bike racks easy to steal?

Bike carriers are easy to steal for thieves who have some experience or interact with bike racks often. However, for a person who has never interacted with a bike carrier, it may not be easy for them to steal.

Expert thieves can be able to unmount racks within seconds. They are also able to tell expensive racks and can unmount them with little ease.

Some have master keys to even unlock bicycle racks that have been locked. Others have mastered the art of picking locks.

As such, even with a lockable bike rack, a proper thieve can be able to steal the rack particularly if he/she is able to tell how expensive the rack is.

Remember bike racks are made in a way that allows them to be easily mounted and unmounted without a lot of effort. As such, anyone who understands this can be able to easily steal a bike carrier.

How to prevent your car bike rack from being stolen

There is a famous saying “nothing is too theft-proof for a determined thieve.” As such, while you cannot 100% secure your bicycle carrier, you can make it hard for the thieve to steal it.

  • Unmount your bike rack

This is probably the only 100% theft-proof solution in this list. Unmounting your rack especially when not in use will ensure your bike rack never gets stolen. Even when on the road, you can unmount the rack and keep it inside your car.

  • Avoid parking in deserted areas

If you are not able to unmount your rack, at least ensure you park your car in a high-traffic area. Avoid secluded parking lots within little to zero traffic. Thieves like places where they cannot be seen and have time to do damage without anyone seeing them.

  • Secure it with a cable lock 

Find a way to secure the bike rack with a cable lock. Depending on the type of rack you have, a cable lock can help you secure your bike rack. You can tie the lock to the tow hook if your rack is mounted at the back of the car.

This option may not work with roof racks particularly cars that do not have roof rails.

  • Lock with a u-lock

A U-lock might help you secure your rack. However, before purchasing a U-lock, ensure that the lock will work with your bicycle rack.

  • Leave your car home 

Yes, if you are in a position to cycle to your destination, please do and avoid headaches about the safety of your rack.

  • Park your car where you can see it 

Avoid leaving your car with your empty rack unattended. Park where you can see your car.

Can bikes be stolen from car bike racks?

Yes, bikes can be stolen from bicycle car racks. If you leave your bike unattended in your car bicycle rack there is a chance that it can be stolen.

There is a bigger chance that the bike can be stolen if you park in a deserted parking lot with little to no human traffic.

Watch the video below of a bike being stolen from a bike rack

While most car racks have built-in locks, these locks are primarily to secure the bike on transit. This means that the lock works perfectly to keep your bike secure while you are on the road.

However, when it comes to your bike security when you are parked, these locks might not keep your bike secure from thieves.

How to prevent bikes from being stolen from bike racks

  • Two or three locks are better than one

This will give potential thieves the notion that your bike is difficult to steal. Picking one 2 or 3 locks is quite a hassle and this will deter even a determined thieve.

  • Mask your Strava location

Ensure that you mask your location on all your social fitness platforms. You never know who is following you and for what reasons. Some know the value of your bike and your location will aid them in planning to steal your bike.

  • Lock all quick release accessories

We all love quick release and so do thieves. Ensure you lock all quick-release accessories including wheels and your saddle.

  • Carry your bikes indoors at night 

I know! Carrying a bike through a flight of stairs is tiring. However, this is a safe way to ensure that your bike is away from the eyes of potential thieves. Carry your bike to your hotel room, or ensure they keep it safe for you when on the road.

  • Own your bike

Most bike thieves will never keep a stolen bike and will cash in as soon as they can. They will rarely keep the bike for themselves and will look to sell the bike very quickly. As such, you can have some initials engraved or paint the bike your favorite color to make it look unique.

  • Invest in a quality lock

Don’t trust the safety of your bike to just any lock. Ensure you purchase a quality lock to keep thieves away. Quality locks are expensive, however, bikes are more expensive. So do not shy away from investing in a good lock.


Cycling is being promoted by governments all over the world due to its various benefits to the population. Most governments are putting infrastructure to encourage more people to take up cycling.

With the number of bikes rising, so is the number of bike thieves. Just like cycling bike theft is also on the rise.

As such, it is important to ensure that your bike together with the bicycle car rack are safe. We have discussed extensively on the topics; can car bike racks be stolen and can bikes be stolen from car-bicycle racks.

We have given tips on how to keep your bike and bike racks safe.