Bike shops have become prime targets for looters in the wave of rioting that has spread across London and other cities in England since Saturday evening. Stores looted last night included some belonging to major chains but also small independents, for whom the theft of stock and disruption to trading while they put things right will come as a devastating blow.
Due to their value, bikes clearly make an attractive target for thieves looking to profit from the violence, and it’s a lot easier and less suspicious to ride away on one compared to walking down the road with a flatscreen TV.
Meanwhile, many rioters have been using bicycles – whether their own or stolen is impossible to tell – to get around, with looters in Clapham even reported to be using stolen Boris Bikes to make their getaway.
Evans Cycles store in Chalk Farm was among those targeted in last night’s rioting in London, as well as a workshop in Bremondsey that was broken into.
Talking about the Chalk Farm store, managing director Mike Rice said: “We are currently trying to assess the impact of the break in which is proving to be quite tricky as the area has been cordoned off by police and access into the store is limited. What we can say is none of our staff were caught up in the incident and are all safe and sound.
“It appears a number of bikes and accessories have been taken from the store, all bikes on the shop floor are locked up and we know this hampered thieves efforts”.
“We are conscious that this will be having an impact on our customers who have orders to collect at the store and have dropped their bikes in for repair in our workshop," Mr Rice continued. "We thank our customers for being patient while we assess the situation and will contact all affected customers as soon as we can.”
Evans Cycles confirmed that its Chalk Farm store would be closed at least for today and that its branch in Croydon was also closed today due to the clear-up operation in that borough as well as the difficulty of access due to police presence on the streets.
“In light of the situation we’re taking extra precautions today to protect our stores, our stock and safeguard our staff,” added Mr Rice.
Halfords stores are also among those that broken into during the disturbances.
One Twitter user, @mattdives, wrote: “I wish I was filming the 12 year old kid breaking into the tv shop .. And the 50 people jumping into South Croydon bike shop.”
He didn’t specify which shop that was, although when we contacted Geoffrey Butler Cycles on South End Road, a member of staff confirmed that it had been targeted and employees were busy assessing and clearing up the damage.
One cyclist who filmed his ride through what appears to be an unusually quiet Croydon shortly before the violence erupted passed the shop, and the window display gives a hint of why it would prove a tempting target to the thieves.
In Islington in North London, another independent bike shop to be targeted was MiCycle on Barnsbury Street, reports the London Cyclist blog, with a local resident using his phone to film the looters, several of whom were themselves on bicycles.
Another bike shop to suffer during last night’s violence was a few miles east in Leyton, Twitter user @imkah tweeting: ““Bike Shack in Leyton got completely cleaned out last night. Little Independent, lovely staff, always really friendly.”
With another night of disturbances in prospect, people who use bicycles to get around should also be vigilant about not exposing themselves to danger. As yet, we’re not aware of any hijacking incidents involving cyclists, one woman told BBC London how her husband was forced off his motorbike in Peckham.
"My husband is a 45–year–old rugby player,” she explained. “He is a big, burly man. He was driving along Rye Lane and a gang of about a dozen dragged him off his bike and beat him up.
"They took his bike. He is in a real state. I was here 30 years ago in the last riots and they were nothing like this. This is just criminality plain and simple. They haven't got a cause."
The advice to anyone cycling tonight in areas likely to be flashpoints of violence would be to keep a good eye out for groups of youths and, if possible, change your route to take you away from likely trouble spots.
Meanwhile, if you know of any other bike shops that were targeted during last night's violence or know of any other cycling-related incidents during the disturbances, please let us know in the comments below.
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.