The most recent bike theft statistics have just been published on UKCrimeStats.com, showing that 78 bikes were reported stolen in Suffolk in March of this year, compared with 70 in the previous year. At first glance, this seems a trivial increase, but there is a steady ongoing increase if you look at previous periods.
For the twelve months ending October 2014 the annual level of reported bike thefts in Suffolk was 1124. This has stepped up each month since, with November at 1153, December at 1183, January at 1193, February at 1221, and March at 1229.
What these headline statistics don’t show is whether thieves are discerning in what they steal, looking for high end bikes, or are primarily opportunists who will grab any unsecured bike, or bike where they can defeat a lock quickly. What we can see is that thefts workout at virtually 1 per thousand population. UKCrimeStats also showed some figures for postal code areas, with four Suffolk ones being available: IP1 suffered 11 thefts in February 2015, with IP4 one worse at 12. Lowestoft North (NR32) came in at 12, versus 8 for NR33. Crossing over the border into Cambridge, thefts in CB1 and CB2 were 49 and 52 respectively – perhaps indicating that the more cyclists there are, the greater the probability that the opportunist thief will find something to steal.
The national picture is that there were 6216 reported thefts in March 2015, which brought the total for the 12 months ending March to a staggering 89,262. Assuming an average replacement price of £400, that is 35.74 million pounds worth. This is likely to be a considerable underestimate of the real numbers; a few years ago, the Halifax insurance company indicated that there were over 400,000 bike thefts a year.
Suffolk Police have to be congratulated for running bike security days around the county, where they would UV mark bikes free of charge. At least that way, there is some possibility of returning a bike should it be recovered by the police or handed in to them.
What can you do to protect your bike from theft?
The first step has to be to use a good bike lock – one rated “Sold Secure – Gold”, but be aware that determined thieves with big bolt cutters will get through these worryingly rapidly. A French study indicated that 20% of bikes stolen in France had not been locked, and 90% of those that were locked had easily cut locks.
The second step is to use two bike locks! Make sure that they are of different types, which means that the thief has to have different tools to remove them both.
Try where possible to lock your bike near others and in a well lit area. If there is an easier looking target, the thief might take that rather than yours. This doesn’t however reduce overall bike thefts! If you are using a chain, make sure that this is wound tightly with as little slack as possible, which makes it more difficult to access and cut.
There is some evidence that a good half of bikes are stolen from homes. Reduce the chance of this happening by locking your bike in a garage or shed, and also locking it to an immovable object inside the shed/garage.
Register the serial number of your bike on immobilise.com (and I recommend adding your phone and other “nickable” equipment on there too). From this site you can also get inexpensive chips, which again may help to identify your bike and get it returned. Keep a record of the serial number, with your photo, and a good description of the bike so you can give an accurate description should it get stolen. You can also register your bike on BikeRegister.com from where you can download a bike logbook to record the description and details of your bike. Should it be stolen, report it to the local police or online. Ask for your CRIS (Crime Reference Information System) or CAD (Computer Aided Despatch) reference, which you may need for your insurance claim.
Have your bike UV marked. Pens are relatively inexpensive. It’s worth marking the bike with your postcode in several places.
Do what you can to make your bike recognisable and take a photo of it. This may help in identifying it and helping to get it back. It could also help catch a thief which may clear up a number of bike thefts. Go ahead and show off your ego: have your name painted on your bike!
It won’t stop your bike getting stolen, but having it insured will lessen the pain. The CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) offer good insurance on a new for old basis.
SpyCycle Bike & Cycling News
See More Cycling News Stories