The Local Government Association data reveals some of the UK’s most popular commuter towns are reporting a promising decrease in bike theft crimes over the 12-month period up to September 2020. While Milton Keynes experienced the sharpest decline at 30%, Cambridge reported a 21% drop, followed by Essex (17%), Bedford (8%) and St Albans (8%).
Despite the improving numbers, the data shows that bike theft remains one of the most prevalent crimes in the area. Nearly 1 in 20 crimes in Milton Keynes between March 2020 to February 2021 were bike theft-related, which is double the previous year’s figures of 1 in 40.
The data, collated by Lawtons Law, criminal defence solicitors in Milton Keynes, encompasses the first six months of Covid restrictions and the peak spring/summer cycling season.
With restrictions beginning to ease, residents are being encouraged to remain vigilant and invest in the appropriate security measures. Recent ONS data found that over half (51%) of all bike thefts in the UK involve bicycles not locked or secured. The majority (27%) of unsecured bike theft victims state they simply “never thought about it or got round to it”. While 13% did not own a lock.
Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at London law firm Lawtons Solicitors, says:
“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
Residents and commuters can follow these steps to ensure their bikes are kept secure:
- Use a heavy-duty D-lock that is ideally Sold Secure-rated. Buy a lock that costs a third of the value of your bicycle
- Use two different high-quality locks. This would make it more awkward for thieves as they would have to use different types of tools to remove them. The council recommends a heavy-duty D-lock and a robust chain or cable
- Lock both the frame and wheels to the cycle parking
- Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible. Your bike needs to be difficult to manoeuvre, 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. It will also make it easier to find, should it get stolen
What actions can you take to maximise your chance of recovery if your bike is stolen?
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.”