Met says thieves target mass-market commuting bikes - because they are easier to sell

Specialized Allez among most commonly stolen bikes, as figures reveal 10 per cent drop in reported thefts in 2013/14

by Simon_MacMichael   April 30, 2014  

Wheel from stolen bike © Simon MacMichael.JPG

The Metropolitan Police says cyclists’ use of social media to help track down stolen bikes means bike thieves in London are steering clear of expensive but rare models and are instead targeting mass market ones favoured by commuters, such as the Specialized Allez, because they are easier to sell.

Figures released by the force also show that cycle commuters are the most likely to fall victim to bike theft, since the thieves have the whole working day in which to operate, with thefts most prevalent during business hours and in the boroughs of Hackney, Wandsworth and Westminster, reports the London Evening Standard.

Inspector Dave Dixon from the Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Task Force, said: “There’s an eight-hour window when the bike racks are full. Most of the thefts are in the daytime in boroughs that border the City.

“Bike racks in Westminster are absolutely rammed until 7pm, and that’s why they are targeted. More people are riding into work, and they have to leave their bikes somewhere.”

On the issue of which bikes are most attractive to thieves, he said that police believe they prefer mid-priced ones popular among commuters, since they are easier to sell on.

“If they nick a customised bike it is very hard to sell,” he explained. “It’s like bike porn to cyclists and if they see one they’re all around it, and also cyclists are very active on social media so it’s likely to be spotted.

“A bike like a Specialized Allez – there are hundreds of them and thieves know they can shift them quite easily.”

In the year to March 2013, there were 1,376 reported bike thefts in Hackney, 1,366 in Wandsworth, and 1,341 in Westminster, which had recorded the most such crimes in the preceding year at 1,629.

The total number of bikes reported stolen across the capital stood at 18,894 in 2013/14, a 10 per cent reduction on the previous year, with police attributing the reduction to better security measures being adopted by cyclists.

“We believe it’s due to people getting much better at having bikes marked and locking them up,” said Inspector Dixon.

However, he pointed out that thefts of bicycles were still prevalent in areas with halls of residence or a large number of flats, saying: “If owners are in shared halls or flats, they are less likely to have an indoor space to keep the bikes, so will have to keep them on the street at all times.”

Among boroughs that registered a reduction in bike theft was Hammersmith and Fulham, with 925 reported, a 27 per cent drop on 2012/13, while Brent saw the number of bicycles reported stolen rise by 37 per cent to reach 451. The lowest number of recorded thefts, 117, was in Bexley.

Inspector Dixon added that online second-hand sales sites were useful in trying to recover stolen bikes. “We look on auction sites for stolen bikes,” he said.

“A lot are on Gumtree where sellers only need a phone number. We get suspicious if there is very little detail, a stock photo has been used, if the photo is taken from a long way away, or if there is a story about a sister moving to Australia.”

In this 2011 video from the London Cycling Campaign as part of its Beat the Thief initiative, Barry Mason (who has since sadly passed away) talks through some of the  locking methods used on real bikes by real cyclists on some Sheffield stands in London:

road.cc's bike locking Dos and Don'ts

  • Do lock your bike to a secure, immovable object - ideally one designed for the purpose
  • Do make sure the frame and both wheels are inside your lock, or use two locks, or locking wheel skewers on the front wheel
  • Do use a lock, and use it properly even if you are leaving your bike unattended for even a moment
  • Do remove lights and anything else that isn't securely fixed to your bike when you are locking it up
  • Do lock your bike when you get it home, especially if you keep it in a shed or garage
  • Do buy the best lock or locks that you can afford
  • Don't leave your bike unlocked and unattended even if you are just nipping in to shop
  • Don't  lock your bike up in a secluded location where a thief has time to work on your lock undisturbed
  • Don't lock your bike to trees or fences that can be easily cut through, or, posts or signs that it can be easily lifted over
  • Don't leave space in your shackle - that gives space for evil bike stealing tools to do their worst or leave your lock lying flat on the ground for the same reason
  • Don't forget your lock

We're strong believers in always filling your shackle but we're always looking for new ways to help beat bike thieves so if you've got any bike security tips you'd like to share let's hear them!

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

getting better or disillusionment with the ability of the police to do anything?

Hopefully the former, but...

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1026 posts]
30th April 2014 - 19:03

like this
Like (22)

No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

This is the road.cc forum after all.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
30th April 2014 - 19:08

like this
Like (31)

A scruffy old commuter with a decent lock will be pretty far down the priority list for cycle thieves. Some scruffy old commuters can be decent bikes under the dirt and scratcches.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
30th April 2014 - 20:56

like this
Like (16)

If you've got a carbon frame, consider dropping one of these down your seat tube or steerer column. The signal gets picked up by the nearest phone (maybe even the thief's phone Big Grin ) and then you get an alert on your phone as to the whereabouts of your pride and joy. Clever concept.
(http://www.thetileapp.com).

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
30th April 2014 - 21:56

like this
Like (12)

So to help prevent theft I should buy an expensive, exotic bike and add some custom components - I'm off to the shops

posted by gmac101 [25 posts]
1st May 2014 - 7:07

like this
Like (20)

I'm a scruffy old commuter who owns a decent lock. No ones picked me up yest so I guess it works.

posted by Maggers [35 posts]
1st May 2014 - 8:31

like this
Like (12)

Maggers wrote:
I'm a scruffy old commuter who owns a decent lock. No ones picked me up yest so I guess it works.

LOL - me too

Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
1st May 2014 - 8:58

like this
Like (10)

allez neg wrote:
No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

This is the road.cc forum after all.

Heh. Bravo sir, bravo Applause

posted by step-hent [650 posts]
1st May 2014 - 9:01

like this
Like (12)

allez neg wrote:
No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

Is this for real?

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [114 posts]
1st May 2014 - 10:36

like this
Like (7)

27+ years of cycle commuting etc in central London and I've not lost a bike yet.

When my previous employer moved offices, they built a covered bike shelter for my FW Evans in our private courtyard garden (I was the only cyclist in an office of 60 or so people. It was also very rare to have such space on New Oxford Street).

After a further move to an office with no outside or inside space to park a bike, rather than leave my bike chained to railings, I commuted by bus. For two days. The 90+ minute journey (instead of 35 minutes) was doing my head in so I went to Condor Cycles and bought a brand new Brompton.

Best investment ever.

posted by congokid [109 posts]
1st May 2014 - 11:43

like this
Like (14)

My concern is more vandalism than theft. I always use a dirty great D-Lock. Trouble round here is that if they can not steal it they will smash it up out of spite (Stoke is that kind of city). I want multi story parking to have a cycle section that is watched all day. If cycling use is low then I want bike bins provided like they do in some boroughs of Nottingham.

posted by MKultra [197 posts]
1st May 2014 - 13:43

like this
Like (9)

harman_mogul wrote:
allez neg wrote:
No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

Is this for real?

Of course not. I'm just trying to highlight the doublethink exhibited by a fair few commenters on here (some may be less charitable and call it hypocrisy, but I'll stick with doublethink) when it comes to road accidents and matters regarding police.

Bike theft - Road cc gives tips to reduce the risk of this, they suggest the cyclist incurs personal cost and inconvenience in purchasing, carrying and using physical security locks to deter theft. Theft requires a thief - someone with the intention, the mens rea, to dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of it. A victim of theft is a victim of someone with the intention of committing an offence - a predator you might say.

And yet a cycle owner is reasonably expected to take precautions against this with roadcc giving advice accordingly.

Road accidents are somehow different on here - when a police spokesman, coroner, judge, politician or pretty much anyone makes a general comment regarding the cyclist trying to reduce their vulnerability by means of lighting, bright clothing, reflectives etc along with adherence to the rules of the road you'll find people òn here jumping up and down and using the term "victim blaming" almost immediately. I could go out tonight on my black bike, in my black shorts and top, with shades on and maybe even headphones too, and leave the lights at home. I'll ride down the middle of a 60mph road and if I hit a pothole, gravel, horse shyte, or if anyone hits me, then it'll be due to the poor infrastructure and bad driving, surely?

I can't imagine many motorists actually having the intention to injure or kill cyclists ( there are some admittedly) so the cyclist is normally the victim of someone negligent to varying degrees, but not someone with the intent to harm, and yet providing advice to cycle riders to reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident is victim blaming, apparently.

If a cycle rider can't be arsed to take basic personal precautions for his own benefit (be they equipment and behavioural), then when he asks for the moon on a stick in terms of infrastructure and changes to legislation, vehicle design etc I can kinda guess what the answer will be.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
1st May 2014 - 16:52

like this
Like (7)

I'm glad I'm not the sort of person who is so determined to belittle dead and injured people that I write my thoughts on the matter underneath completely unrelated articles.

You get an awful lot of judgmental comments when people have a poorly secured bike stolen too, and not one of those has ever helped bring a bike back.

posted by Mr Agreeable [131 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 7:46

like this
Like (10)

allez neg wrote:
harman_mogul wrote:
allez neg wrote:
No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

Is this for real?

Of course not. I'm just trying to highlight the doublethink exhibited by a fair few commenters on here (some may be less charitable and call it hypocrisy, but I'll stick with doublethink) when it comes to road accidents and matters regarding police.

Bike theft - Road cc gives tips to reduce the risk of this, they suggest the cyclist incurs personal cost and inconvenience in purchasing, carrying and using physical security locks to deter theft. Theft requires a thief - someone with the intention, the mens rea, to dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of it. A victim of theft is a victim of someone with the intention of committing an offence - a predator you might say.

And yet a cycle owner is reasonably expected to take precautions against this with roadcc giving advice accordingly.

Road accidents are somehow different on here - when a police spokesman, coroner, judge, politician or pretty much anyone makes a general comment regarding the cyclist trying to reduce their vulnerability by means of lighting, bright clothing, reflectives etc along with adherence to the rules of the road you'll find people òn here jumping up and down and using the term "victim blaming" almost immediately. I could go out tonight on my black bike, in my black shorts and top, with shades on and maybe even headphones too, and leave the lights at home. I'll ride down the middle of a 60mph road and if I hit a pothole, gravel, horse shyte, or if anyone hits me, then it'll be due to the poor infrastructure and bad driving, surely?

I can't imagine many motorists actually having the intention to injure or kill cyclists ( there are some admittedly) so the cyclist is normally the victim of someone negligent to varying degrees, but not someone with the intent to harm, and yet providing advice to cycle riders to reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident is victim blaming, apparently.

If a cycle rider can't be arsed to take basic personal precautions for his own benefit (be they equipment and behavioural), then when he asks for the moon on a stick in terms of infrastructure and changes to legislation, vehicle design etc I can kinda guess what the answer will be.

That's the problem with being a vulnerable road user though - you could also go out high-vizzed to the max, lights everywhere and riding to the letter and spirit of the law (be that riding in the cycle lanes, or in primary position - it doesn't matter) and still get killed or injured by someone else's mistake.

So, where do you draw the line? If someone is behaving legally and is harmed through no fault of their own do you always 'provide advice' to them despite a complete lack of evidence that they did anything incorrectly or that what you suggest would make any difference at all? Does there have to be a bike involved, or does your 'holier-than-thou' attitude extend to every area of society?

posted by teaboy [149 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 8:44

like this
Like (6)

Neil753 wrote:
If you've got a carbon frame, consider dropping one of these down your seat tube or steerer column. The signal gets picked up by the nearest phone (maybe even the thief's phone Big Grin ) and then you get an alert on your phone as to the whereabouts of your pride and joy. Clever concept.
(http://www.thetileapp.com).

That looks really interesting, although it only works with Apple phones, and you have to replace it each year when the batteries run out.

Fantastic idea though, I really like the idea you can mark something as stolen and everybody gets an alert when they're near it.

posted by localsurfer [160 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 12:04

like this
Like (8)

allez neg wrote:
No no no no. No.

Victim blaming surely - there should be the infrastructure in place and the societal change necessary to eradicate theft before us bike owners should be expected to use locks.

This is the road.cc forum after all.

Just out of interest, do you know what the theft rate of "properly secured" bicycles is?

For myself, I ride around with a 10Kg chain. I triple lock the bicycle with it and also attach claymores. To round off the job, and protect myself reasonably, as anyone that cares about their bicycle would, I carry a 30Kg lead-acid battery which can deliver a stunning jolt to whoever touches the bicycle. After all, it pays to take precautions doesn't it?

Be safe out there!

Oh... nearly forgot... I also wear a special hat and clothing to deter the bike thieves.

posted by Ush [377 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 14:50

like this
Like (7)