Bike thefts could be costing British cyclists more than £80 million a year, new figures from Halfords reveal.*
According to police crime statistics, a total of 115,147 bikes were reported stolen in the UK last year. But the actual figure is much higher, according to the British Crime Survey, due to a high proportion of thefts that are unreported.
It estimates the true number is nearer 533,000, the equivalent of a bike going missing every minute, and means almost 80% of owners are failing to report thefts. National figures** show reported bike crime is up 4% and unreported up 12%.
The full extent of the problem has been revealed by cycle and leisure retailer Halfords, who obtained the latest theft figures from each UK police force and collated them to reveal a disturbing nationwide picture.
The growth in bike thefts has come as the country experiences a resurgence in bicycle use, with 12% of adults regular cycle users and bike sales exceeding £2.1 billion last year. Six per cent of bikes purchased are worth over £1000.
In terms of regional variations, not surprisingly the problem of stolen bikes is worst in London with 21,315 instances reported to the Met in 2010 with Westminster having the highest rate of theft (1,898).
Thames Valley had the second highest rate with 6,060 instances reported in 2010. This was followed by Greater Manchester (5,185) and Cambridgeshire (4,477). Thames Valley and Cambridgeshire contain university cities of Oxford and Cambridge which account for much of the crime in those areas.
Fife has the best record for bike theft, the east coast area in Scotland only reporting 78 thefts in the past year, despite it including the student town of St Andrews where there is high bike ownership. There were 24 times more thefts in Westminster than in the whole of Fife.
The worst area in Scotland was Strathclyde, which includes Glasgow. It recorded 2081 thefts, followed closely by Lothian and Border with 2026.
Over two thirds of bike theft occurs in or around a victim’s home and research shows that while most cyclists lock their bikes when leaving them on the street, they are often unlocked when stored at a residence.*** The high number of unreported theft is put down to the belief that police will not catch the offender and that many bikes on the road are second hand.
Halfords cycling expert Paul Tomlinson said: “The scale of the bike theft is quite staggering and it can be devastating when you have bought your dream bike only to have it stolen.
“It demonstrates the need for cyclists to take precautions. We recommend bolt-cutter proof locks, because heavy-duty locks are a much better deterrent, and bike marking for all cycles.
“All Halfords locks are independently tested and rated Bronze, Silver or Gold depending on the length of time it would take a thief to break the lock and what level of equipment they would need.
“Our in-store experts are on hand to advise you on the best way to keep your cycle safe, such as purchasing the most appropriate heavy duty lock for your bike and investing in a bike tagging kit, so that it can be identified if it is ever stolen and recovered by police.”
After revealing the price of cycle theft, Halfords is calling for a unified approach to tackling the crime.
Paul Tomlinson added: “It is clear that this is a nationwide problem and many initiatives are left to local forces. We urge customers to keep their bikes secure but we would like to see more co-ordination in tackling thefts once they have occurred.”
The Police say one of the biggest problems is not recovering bikes, but finding out who owns them and they urge cyclists to take three simple steps to help reduce crime.
1) Record the details of the bike by getting it marked.
2) Register on one of the number of websites where details can be left3) Report if your bike is stolen.