More than 2,000 bikes were nicked across Lancashire in the last year - but just 53 were ever recovered.
New figures show just 4% of bike thieves were caught last year and victims have an even slimmer chance of ever seeing their property again.
One victim Peter Ward, co-creator of the Guild Wheel, has had three bikes stolen in the last year.
He said: “Three of my bikes were stolen in July and a week later four of my friends bikes were stolen. Thieves are getting cleverer and are going to a lot of effort to steal bikes - my friend upped his security after I was targeted and they climbed in through the sky light to pinch his bikes.”
A total of 2,388 bike thefts were recorded across the county last year but only 91 people were charged and 15 people cautioned for bicycle theft.
Just 53 bicycles were recovered and returned to their owners in the period between April, 1, 2013 and March, 31, 2014 - a recovery rate of just 2%.
Lancashire Police have warned the people of Preston to be aware as 138 thefts were recorded in the city alone.
A spokesman said: “Cyclists should remain extra vigilant and take additional security measures to protect their bike. People should get their bike security marked, always use a bicycle lock, even if it is just being left for a short time and where possible, keep their bikes in doors.
“Bicycles should be chained to something secure to stop them being carried away.”
Only four bikes have been returned to owners in Preston in that period and Peter is one of the lucky ones.
He said: “I’m really pleased with the police as two of my bikes have been recovered.”