Bike insurer ETA says theft of bicycles through muggings on the rise (+ video)

As many cases recorded in first three months of 2011 as in whole of 2010

by Simon_MacMichael   May 16, 2011  

Wheel from stolen bike © Simon MacMichael.JPG

There has been a dramatic rise in instances of cyclists being mugged for their bikes, according to bike insurance firm the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), with the problem not just confined to urban areas. The ETA says that in the first three months of 2011, it has received as many claims for this type of theft as it did in the whole of 2010.

The insurer added that there is also a variation in the value of bicycle stolen in this way, as well as the degree of violence used against the victim, ranging from “having the bike snatched to serious physical assault and in one case a cyclist was threatened with a knife.”

A spokesperson for the ETA, whose policies provide cover against this type of theft, commented: “The total number of cyclists affected by this crime remains thankfully small, but the increase is dramatic and of concern.

“We can’t know for certain why bicycle muggings seem to be on the increase. It may be that it is not a trend, but rather an unpleasant ‘fad’ amongst criminals, but whatever the case our perception is that the police are taking the attacks seriously and in at least one case a man has been arrested.”

The ETA says that in response to threats such as mugging and bike theft generally, some cyclists are letting their bikes rust to make them less tempting to thieves, and says that “such rat bikes look set to become a cycling trend in their own right” – although of course cycle couriers and others have been taping up their frames for years to try and disguise what’s beneath and make them less attractive to thieves.

The company also mentions the instance of a cyclist in Africa who reputedly became so fed up with his bike being stolen that he devised a spring loaded knife in the seat post that deployed when a thief began pedalling – in keeping, perhaps, with Corporal Jones’s advice to Captain Mainwairing in Dad’s Army that they really do not like it up ‘em.

The ETA, whose cover for bikes includes new-for-old replacement, accidental damage including while racing and third party and personal accident cover, itself built its own custom anti-theft bicycle last year, including a James Bond-style ejector seat, as shown in this video.


6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Rusty, dirty bikes, yes of course.


posted by OldRidgeback [2588 posts]
16th May 2011 - 11:59


It would be a very daring mugger that tried to part me from my beautiful bike.

posted by wild man [295 posts]
16th May 2011 - 14:29


So an insurance company whose policy covers mugging, claims that muggings are on the rise, and you just reprint their press release?

Without knowing the total number of incidents involved you can have no idea of the actual seriousness of the problem.

Their statistic of as many in the first quarter of 2011 as all of 2010 could just be one mugging in June last year, and another in March this year.

posted by AleT [53 posts]
17th May 2011 - 13:37


While I hope no one tries but I do have a little bit of back up namely a black belt in Aikido and Taikwondo and regular training over the years in additional styles like russian submission wrestling, boxing and brazilian jujitsu and most importantly I am very used to falling of my bike which comes from playing off road. In fact I have mastered the art of rolling breakfalls from a bike quite well over the years and its amazing what you can do with a pump to defend yourself if you know how.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
17th May 2011 - 20:53


Ciaran - got a black belt in aikido and a brown belt in karate myself but I'm aware that the pond life who carry out muggings often carry knives and are also likely to claim self defence first when confronted by someone who resists being robbed. My faith in the UK's justice system isn't so strong and there are numerous cases of people defending themselves against thieves of one type or another subsequently finding themselves facing charges of assault and so on.

By the way, I'd say a D lock is better for self defence than a pump, which is too lightweight.


posted by OldRidgeback [2588 posts]
18th May 2011 - 8:26


The bike mugging I have heard of have been at night, in quiet areas in fairly central London, and have been a gang attack. So I wouldn't fancy the chances of being able to fight them off.
Making your bike look old might not work as once they have attacked you they will take wallet, mobile and bike.

posted by thereverent [357 posts]
18th May 2011 - 12:39