Up to 20,000 bikes stolen each month it's claimed...

Up to half of thefts of bicycles in England and Wales go unreported to the police, according ethical motoring organisation and sustainable transport lobby group, the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

According to latest figures from the Home Office, cycle theft rose 7% during the three months to September 2009, with 34,600 bikes reported stolen during that period, equivalent to more than 10,000 a month.

But the ETA clams that this understates the true extent of bike theft as much as 50% and estimates that the true figure is nearer 20,000 a month, saying that many owners do not report the crime because they are uninsured and believe that there is little prospect of recovering their bike.

One issue not mentioned by the ETA, however, is that official statistics tend to under-report bicycle theft anyway, since where the bicycle is taken as part of a more serious crime – a burglary or assault, for example – it will be categorised under that offence rather than the separate heading of bicycle theft.

According to the ETA’s director, Andrew Davis, said: "A need to economise during the recession has driven commuters out of their cars and onto bikes, and inevitably with more cyclists has come more cycle theft."

The ETA’s advice is that to deter thieves, cyclists should buy a lock costing around 10% of the value of their bike, ensuring that it has a Sold Secure rating, and points out that bike insurance can cost as little as 33p a week with quotes available through price comparison websites such www.cycleinsurance.co.uk.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.