Insurers frown on guerilla bike theft prevention tactics

Creative – but illegal – anti-theft measures include securing bikes with hidden fishing line

by Martin Thomas   June 24, 2010 news

Cyclists who take direct action against bike thieves by booby-trapping their bicycles risk prosecution themselves, according to a leading cycle insurance provider. says London cyclists frustrated by the high rate of cycle theft have taken to supplementing conventional locks by securing their bikes with a hidden length of 500lb fishing line.

If the primary lock is smashed and the bicycle ridden off without permission, the line snaps taut and thief is thrown from the bike.

Other creative anti-theft guerilla tactics being employed by cyclists include rigging bicycles to house burglar alarms and using wire to attach the bicycle to the garden gate behind which sleeps the family dog – if the bike is stolen the gate opens and the animal is released.

But even though 10,000 bicycles are being reported stolen each month, advises against such radical measures. Director at the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), Andrew Davis, said: “Illegal booby-trapped bicycles of this kind might appeal to the victims of theft, but luckily most cyclists realise that a good insurance policy will quickly arrange for a stolen bike to be replaced.”

7 user comments

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I would love to hear from someone who can explain why this would be illegal. "Booby-trapped bicycles"? C'mon... The wire openning a gate releasing a dog savaging a trespasser sounds like something from The Goonies. Everything else sounds like good advice. Can you buy 500 lb fishing line via the Web? Devil

posted by mttvrtn [37 posts]
24th June 2010 - 9:16

1 Like

Erm, this wouldn't just be a press release promoting said insurance company simply copy/pasted would it?!

Exactly how many people have tried these 'guerilla tactics'? How successful were they? Has anyone ever been prosecuted for 'illegally booby-trapping' their bikes?

Absolute rubbish. Very poor Road CC. You normally do better than this.

posted by stevboss [19 posts]
24th June 2010 - 9:56

1 Like

It's a fair cop stevboss - apologies. It is indeed a reworking of the insurance company's release, which I've been hoping to improve with a comment from the police but it's been rather slow in coming. I lost patience and went off half-cocked. Won't happen again.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [623 posts]
24th June 2010 - 10:22

1 Like

Sounds like a very good idea to me. If I choose to secure my bike in a certain (and non-agressive) way and a thief comes off worse then surely that's their lookout?
Would be good to hear what the police have to say about it though.
How much is 500lbs fishing line?

Richthornton's picture

posted by Richthornton [102 posts]
24th June 2010 - 10:52

1 Like

I can't see how it can be illegal to booby trap a bike on private property (i.e. my garden). Suppose the brakes don't work and my bike was stolen... Could I be sued by said thief if he/she was involved in an accident involving consequential loss? I very much doubt it. This is no different to securing a bike with fishing line. Even on public property, I can't see how Plod could argue it. Pity the fool, etc.

posted by mttvrtn [37 posts]
24th June 2010 - 11:11


"risk prosecution themselves"

Sounds like nonsense to me! just publicity for said insurance company.

I've never found it economical to insure a decent bike outside, just leave the good ones in my house under contents insurance and use an old 2nd hand one for locking up elsewhere.

posted by ribena [168 posts]
24th June 2010 - 11:28


I do the same as 'Ribena', the only sensible option when you've been quoted £650 p.a. to insure just three bikes. At that rate it wouldn't be many years before you'd lost the entire value of your bikes anyway. It does make you wonder who the thieves are, exactly. Insurance companies certainly make a lot more profit than any thief I've ever heard of.

Further, some of you argue the nonsense of the booby trapper being prosecuted, but I wouldn't be so hasty. The law, don't forget, is an ass. Remember the fat boy who brought an action against MacDonald's, blaming them for his obesity as they'd sold him hundreds of burgers and not warned him that they'd make him fat?

More to the point here, I seem to remember a case involving a school being prosecuted when a burglar had fallen from a drainpipe he was climbing up with the intention of breaking and entering. Apparently the school had failed in it's duty of care (to buglars). Obviously they should have kept their drainpipes nice and strong, just in case a burglar wants to climb up one. Or, better still, maybe provided a nice new ladder. So you'd better keep those brakes in good nick, just in case some dirt bag decides to steal your pride and joy and then has an accident on it. You wouldn't want him to hurt his poor likkle self, would you? No, cos it would definitely be your fault.

posted by bikeylikey [194 posts]
30th June 2010 - 6:48