Bike theft drops by 17% in Essex during lockdown, according to government data

14th June 2021
Nick Titchener headshot

Nick Titchener

Managing Partner

In Brief

Less commuting has meant a sharp fall in bike crime in Essex, where train stations usually have some of the UK’s worst rates for bike theft . Essex experienced a 17% fall in bike crime over lockdown, according to the latest Local Government Association data. By contrast, bike crime surged by more than 20% in five London boroughs during the first six months of lockdown, up until September 2020.

bike theft in essex

Some popular commuter towns and cities around London though, reported a promising decrease in bike theft for a whole year before September. Milton Keynes saw a dramatic 30% drop, followed by Cambridge (21%), Bedford (8%) and St Albans (8%). 

The data, collated by Lawtons Law, Criminal Defence Solicitors in Essex, was released on 3 February 2021 and covers the peak spring/summer cycling season.

However, despite the fall in bike theft incidents, cyclists are being urged to remain cautious. 

Nearly 1 in 30 crimes were bike theft-related during the March to February period, more than double the previous year, when it was 1 in 75 crimes. This indicates that although overall crime rates have fallen, criminals are targeting bikes more often.

According to Essex Police, there were 375 bike thefts in Southend alone from January to April, including some involving knives. In response to this spate of attacks, local teachers have been asking pupils to exercise extra caution and ride their bikes home in groups.

Bike owners are also being encouraged to invest in security equipment as lockdown restrictions are eased, after the ONS found that over half (51%) of all bike thefts in the UK involve bicycles not locked or secured.

Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at Lawtons, pinpointed some of the issues around bike crime. He said:

“Unfortunately, suspects aren’t being identified because there’s usually no relationship between themselves and the victim and it’s a relatively low-priority crime. On top of this, owners often don’t document the ownership of their bike, making it difficult to prosecute even if the perpetrator is caught. 

“It’s essential that you document your bike to help you recover it in the case of theft. Keep your receipt, make a record of the serial number and register your bike with a bicycle marking and registration scheme. This will enable the police to trace your bike back to you if it is stolen and recovered.”

How to avoid falling victim to bike theft

Both residents and commuters should follow these steps to keep their bikes secure:

  • Use a heavy-duty D-lock, ideally a Sold Secure-rated one that costs a third of your bike’s value
  • Use two different high-quality security devices, such as a D-lock and a strong chain or cable. Thieves will need various tools to remove them
  • Lock both the frame and wheels to the cycle stand
  • Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible, making it difficult to move, with no leverage points for thieves
  • Take any quick-release parts with you, e.g. quick-release saddles and wheels
  • Remove your lights
  • Register your bike. The sticker will put thieves off and make it easier to find if stolen

How can you maximise your chances of recovering a stolen bike?

Chris Smith, managing director at Pendle Bike Racks, says:

“Hopefully you will have registered your bike with BikeRegister and placed a security mark on your bike. The mark serves as a visible deterrent, because the owner of a marked bike can be traced and the odds of arrest/prosecution are significantly higher. It also makes the stolen bike much more difficult to sell. If you happen to find your freshly stolen bike on a social media marketplace, resist the urge to go vigilante! As tempting as it might be to bang down the door and take back what is rightfully yours, the police are there for a reason.

“Lock all parts of your bike (not just the frame) to a secure bike rack using a top-quality lock. We recommend looking for the Sold Secure gold or diamond class locks. Also make sure you check out the bike rack. Cunning thieves have been known to cut sections out of steel stands and cover the gaps with stickers – then pluck a locked bike away with consummate ease. 

“If you can’t get your lock around them, remove all quick-release items from your bike and take them with you – for example your seat post, lights or your front wheel. Quick release is a great system for the rider, but unfortunately it is great for the thief as well.”

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