Bike theft statistics for May 2015 are now available on UK Crime Stats. They reveal a shocking leap in the number of reported bike thefts in Suffolk.
In May 2014, 75 bikes were reported stolen in Suffolk. In May of this year, the figure leapt up to 126, which is a 68% increase. This of course means that the 12 monthly rolling figure jumps up correspondingly and stands at 1,295 reported stolen bikes in Suffolk in the 12 months ending May 2015.
Suffolk Police have offered free bike marking at a number of locations around the county, but this only helps if a stolen bike is recovered, but does very little to prevent a bike being stolen in the first place. And this increase over last May means that bike theft was 2.3% of all reported crimes in Suffolk: perhaps that means that it will figure on the police radar, or that of the Commissioner.
While it is important for cyclists to lock their bikes, using the best quality locks that they can afford (and manage to lug around with them), there are important measures that need to be in place if Suffolk is going to see more people cycling, either for leisure or for commuting to work or the shops. Here are some thoughts on what would help reduce bike thefts.
Active anti bike theft campaigns by the police; some areas use “honey traps” to catch thieves, and often 1 thief is responsible for multiple thefts. It would be good to learn that our constabulary is doing this. There is a report on road.cc that City of London police are using traceable permanent UV dye called “Smartwater” in sting operations to help their officers catch bike thieves in the Square Mile. Last year, 38 bikes were stolen in an average month in the Square Mile. Road.cc quoted Temporary Superintendent Helen Isaac from the City of London Police as saying “The use of ‘trap bikes’ has been very successful in other force areas in helping the police catch and prosecute offenders. We hope this method will help decrease the number of pedal cycles stolen in the City of London.”
“The bikes will be marked with a transferrable form of SmartWater which will mark the skin and clothing of the thief, directly linking them to the stolen bike.“
“Signs warning of the use of SmartWater and ‘trap bikes’ will be placed in hotspot areas giving a clear message to thieves to stay clear, otherwise they will end up being arrested.”
Councils and Business Improvement Districts need to ensure that there are secure bike parking facilities in well lit and publicly used areas, probably somewhere that is already covered by CCTV cameras.
Shops and offices also need to provide bike parking, which is similarly in high visibility areas, and not tucked down the side of the store – the typical case with many of the supermarkets.
Bike manufacturers need to look at including built in bike locks, which are common on Dutch bikes. OK, they add a few extra grams to the bike’s weight, which is probably anathema to the faster riders of road bikes; personally, I’d rather suffer those few grams and reduce the risk of my bike being stolen.
In this age of the “internet of things”, we need more bike trackers. M2M (“Machine to Machine”) SIM cards cost only a couple of pounds a month. Is that worth it to be able to see where your bike is, should it be stolen, so it can be tracked and the thief apprehended?
If you have any additional ideas as to what could be done to reduce bike theft, please get in touch.
In the national context, Suffolk is not a bad place to ride your bike: we had 0.93 bike thefts per 1,000 population, compared with a national figure of 1.38 per 1,000. It amazes me that 7,224 bikes were reported stolen in May 2015 across the country, bringing the 12 monthly total to 88,555. That’s a lot of bikes and a lot of value!