Video shows ease with which bike thieves can go about their business

No-one approaches 'thief' armed with boltcutters at busy market in East London

by Simon_MacMichael   February 11, 2012  

Ollie the tea-leaf

Cycle parking specialists, Bike Dock Solutions, has deployed hidden cameras to highlight the ease with which thieves can steal a bike, even in busy surroundings, without anyone intervening to ask them what they are doing.

Filmed at Dagenham market in East London, more than ten ‘thefts’ were staged of a bike during a 60-minute period, none of which resulted in anyone approaching the ‘thief,’ who was equipped with a pair of boltcutters.

While the bike was ‘secured’ with the kind of flimsy cable lock that no cyclist wanting to hang on to their bike should use and the film is perhaps not the most rigorous of studies, it does highlight that on this occasion at least, the ‘thief’ was able to operate in broad daylight with impunity.

According to Bike Dock Solutions, the film underlines that it takes an average of nearly three minutes for people to become aware a theft has happened, and at particularly busy times, as many as 15 people could pass by a theft in progress without realising what was happening.

The company added that afterwards, market stewards said that a couple of people had told them they had seen someone stealing a bike, although that happened far too late to apprehend the ‘thief.’

In Greater London alone, 22,464 bikes were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police in 2011, a 2.3 per cent increase on the previous year.

Josh Coleman, Director of Bike Dock Solutions, commented: “Although more and more people are being encouraged to take up cycling, they are still being deterred by the lack of secure cycle parking facilities.

"In the UK, a bicycle is stolen every minute and less than five per cent of those are returned to their owners," he continued.

“Cyclists are more likely to have their bikes stolen than motorcyclists their motorcycle or car owners their car, and cycle theft is found to be the single greatest deterrent to cycle use after fears concerning road safety,” he added.

Organisations including the London Cycling Campaign recommend using two secure-rated locks, one a D-lock, the other a chain or cable, and securing the bike to an immovable object such as a bike stand.

 

33 user comments

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It wouldn't work like that up here in Newcastle.. someones granny would wrap the bolt cutters around the lads face faster than you could say 'geordie shore'

posted by partsandlabour [32 posts]
11th February 2012 - 14:59

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Gkam84 wrote:
Right, is ANYONE going to tell me, if they saw that they would approach the guy?

Me, no chance, look at the size of the bolt cutters, one swipe across the head with that and you could be killed, plus you never know what other weapons he might be carrying, WHAT, i would have done, EVERY time he stole a bike in this video, he was not wearing gloves and simply dropped the cutters and rode off, i would be straight on the phone to the police, secure the cutters and hand them over for finger printing.

But unless it was my own bike i saw being taken, i'm not going to get involved with a random thief who could use any amount of violence to escape with or without the bike


Thats pretty selfish mate... yes I would approach the the guy if it wasn't my bike!!!

A lot of people are so fearfull these days, what you fail to realise is the guy stealing the bike is shiting himself! he knows that in a crowd like that he could very easily be caught & that is what he fears... he probably wouldn't even fight if approached but run... He doesn't want a GBH or ABH charge thats why he is stealing bikes & not mugging people for considerably more money! use you brain for a sec & man up.

now don't get me wrong I'm not gonna try apprehend him,(unless I was with a couple of freinds) that would likely end in violence & I'm gonna let him know that as I attempt to save someones treasured bike.

Nice to hear there is more community in Newcastle 'partsandlabour' well more than London anyway & Bristol too possibly (where I reside) Thinking

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
11th February 2012 - 17:49

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I reckon Gkam is right... I recently approached a group of 3 young lads who were eyeing up the bikes locked up outside my workplace. I asked what they were up to and was told to "F**k off!". I got my mobile phone out and told them I was calling the police. They scarpered quick smart. They were only young lads... 15-16, but I've no doubt the 3 of them could have given me a hiding if they'd wanted to.

I'm in Edinburgh... I like to think we have some community spirit up here too!

posted by tombarr [17 posts]
11th February 2012 - 19:07

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Paulo wrote:
use you brain for a sec & man up.

I was using my brain, you can clearly see the size of the bolt cutters he has with him, hence why i wouldn't go near him, I'm not going to risk any injury to myself for some random person's bike, i would shout, but in no way approach him.

Also using my brain to see that he dropped the cutters and cycled off, without having gloves on, there are going to be finger prints for the police to deal with.

Again, using my brain, if your going to lock you bike up with a lock that looks like its come out of a christmas cracker, then fully expect someone to try and steal it.

As for the "man up" part, i'm not going to steam in to any situation that could cause any harm or injury to myself unless someone's life was in danger, so use YOUR brain and don't expect everyone to react the same as yourself, you can go be manly and do something about it, i just hope for your sake that if it ever happened you don't get clobbered with those cutters, cause thats going to hurt Big Grin

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posted by Gkam84 [8680 posts]
11th February 2012 - 19:25

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Gkam84 wrote:
Right, is ANYONE going to tell me, if they saw that they would approach the guy?

Absolutely. 100%. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
11th February 2012 - 19:26

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I did see one of these maggots about to do the dirty deed in Barnsley.
Whipped out the camera and shouted (from a safe distance, of course), "Smile for the camera." He scarpered PDQ.

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posted by Manglier [67 posts]
11th February 2012 - 19:39

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tombarr wrote:
I reckon Gkam is right... I recently approached a group of 3 young lads who were eyeing up the bikes locked up outside my workplace. I asked what they were up to and was told to "F**k off!". I got my mobile phone out and told them I was calling the police. They scarpered quick smart. They were only young lads... 15-16, but I've no doubt the 3 of them could have given me a hiding if they'd wanted to.

I'm in Edinburgh... I like to think we have some community spirit up here too!


Bizzare that you think Gkam is right! unless you confused my post (I'm Paulo) as Gkam? as your story is actuall proof of a real life situation which prooved my speculation 100% right Big Grin plus there was only 1 of you to 3 of them (thats why they tried the 'Fuck Off')!! still didn't work tho..
My respect goes out to tombarr

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
11th February 2012 - 20:04

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I choose not to respond to the rest of your comment because its all based on what might or might not happen.

The thief might run off because he is fearful, BUT then again, he might fear being caught or apprehended by someone that he could lash out in order to get away.

He doesn't want GBH or ABH and that's why he's not mugging people, how do you know that he's not doing that aswell and just saw a bike as an easy target for a change, but is quite willing to not let anyone stand in his way of him making some money through crime, so you approach him, he decides that instead of the bike, he'll just have your wallet??

The point i made in my opening comment was aimed at that video and NO other situation which may arise in day to day life. So i was only inviting response's to the video and by pointing out those rather large bolt cutters, that is the reason i would not approach him

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posted by Gkam84 [8680 posts]
11th February 2012 - 20:06

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Oh dear lord it's turned into 'my c@cks bigger than yours'.
Really easy to be the big man on a forum and berate someone else for actually telling the truth on how he'd react to what appears to be a thug wielding a not inconsiderable sized weapon.
I wouldn't put my life in jeopardy to protect someone else's bike...there's no 'man up' about it...
As for the thief being scared I doubt it...you've no idea if he's on anything...desperate for cash for his next fix...
And by the way Paulo try using a spellchecker...if you're on here criticising someone...you're opening yourself up for some of the same...
It's a forum about bikes/cycling....not a pissing contest.

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [375 posts]
11th February 2012 - 20:26

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Although my bike has not been stolen. I did catch a thief trying to steal my ladders off my van.
In one arm he had a table ( probably brought from his home to reach my roof) and on the other hand he had my ladders.
I was taking a gentle jog back to my van when I saw this chap walking towards me with the stolen item. So I had options at this stage as he didn't know it was my van.
In theory and I have said it many times I would love to catch one and smash his f***ing head in.
However I was very different to my thoughts and went up to the chap and said they are my ladders and took them back from him, he said in response oh are they and he walked away with his table.
There is no particular moral to my story, take from it what you may.
This happened in November in the middle of the day.

posted by robfletch [19 posts]
11th February 2012 - 20:53

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Gkam84 wrote:
I choose not to respond to the rest of your comment because its all based on what might or might not happen.

The point i made in my opening comment was aimed at that video and NO other situation which may arise in day to day life. So i was only inviting response's to the video and by pointing out those rather large bolt cutters, that is the reason i would not approach him


Your comment is also based on speculation about what might happen... e.g getting hit with bolt cutters. its no different from what you accuse me of!
My comment on approaching the guy is also based on the video, I'm not trying to be hard or tuff just a decent human being that cares about other people & wants this kinda of thing to be a little more difficult, with all those people around if I was attacked I would think many people would help out (but thats just speculation again!).

@ The_Kaner it isn't a pissing contest you are right its about standing up to people that do unreasonable things in society... if you think I'm claiming I'm harder than Gkam you really have missed my point Sad spellcheck LOL.

Gkam84 wrote:
Right, is ANYONE going to tell me, if they saw that they would approach the guy?
& lets not forget Gkam did ask

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
11th February 2012 - 21:26

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Jebus, go crawl back under your bridge, assuming thats where troll's live these days?

How am i accusing you of anything? I merely stated why i has not responded to your other parts of your comment. Just because you choose to reply to my "might or might not" happen post, does not mean that i have to do the same Thinking

But seen as you seemed to want a response, i gave you one, but that didn't seem to satisfy either, so type out whatever drivel your going to come back with, just remember, being a keyboard warrior gets you no-where in real life situations

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posted by Gkam84 [8680 posts]
11th February 2012 - 21:42

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Gkam84 wrote:
Jebus, go crawl back under your bridge, assuming thats where troll's live these days?

so type out whatever drivel your going to come back with, just remember, being a keyboard warrior gets you no-where in real life situations


insults & patronising comments!! Confused I don't believe I have done either to you Gkam84

I think its compltely up to you if you don't want to approach him, I just stated that I would act differently thats All.
I wish I hadn't said 'use you brain for a sec & man up' & apologize for that, didn't mean to be insulting to you directly, but make a general point about society & why nobody approached him in the video.
I won't be commenting again because this has become ridiculous.

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
11th February 2012 - 22:19

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So you choose to comment on 'Man up use your brain' & nothing else, ignore the argument I made & igorne the story by tombarr that prooved my hypothesis correct.
instead you just restate what you already said about your fear of getting attacked Surprise
You must remember that you typed:
'Right, is ANYONE going to tell me, if they saw that they would approach the guy?'
So you have really encouraged the negative response to your post.

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posted by Paulo [107 posts]
11th February 2012 - 22:28

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Nice setup. Not. Its just a cheapshot advert for a service. Nothing new here that hasnt been done before either.

No one had time to stop the guy just look at that lock, you could tear that thing apart with your bare hands! It takes him a mere fraction of a second to break that lock with the bolt cutters. Before anyone realises whats going on, he has already rode off.

Try it with a bigger lock that has him wrestling with it for a couple of mins with a hacksaw or something. Now I've no doubt that most people would stand and stare or look away. But I also bet you'd get more people actually say something.

Plus we don't see what ended up on the cutting room floor.

This video shows me nothing more than fear tactics to sell a product. I don't understand how it has become a talking point on the cycling websites.

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posted by Napalmhaze [78 posts]
11th February 2012 - 23:42

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I once spent about 20 minutes drilling out a D-lock for my sister in law (someone had stuck something in the keyhole; we had a battery drill at work - not the best tool for the job if you want a quick exit).

This was on Tottenham Court Road at lunchtime, outside a police station.

No-one challenged me until right at the end when a PC came and asked my if it was my bike. He believed my story...

I don't look at all violent, mean or desperate! The (wo)man in the street generally does not want to get involved and looks the other way.

posted by Pauldmorgan [159 posts]
12th February 2012 - 17:44

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Paulo wrote:
tombarr wrote:
I reckon Gkam is right... I recently approached a group of 3 young lads who were eyeing up the bikes locked up outside my workplace. I asked what they were up to and was told to "F**k off!". I got my mobile phone out and told them I was calling the police. They scarpered quick smart. They were only young lads... 15-16, but I've no doubt the 3 of them could have given me a hiding if they'd wanted to.

I'm in Edinburgh... I like to think we have some community spirit up here too!


Bizzare that you think Gkam is right! unless you confused my post (I'm Paulo) as Gkam? as your story is actuall proof of a real life situation which prooved my speculation 100% right Big Grin plus there was only 1 of you to 3 of them (thats why they tried the 'Fuck Off')!! still didn't work tho..
My respect goes out to tombarr

Sorry Paulo, you're right. I thought Gkam had written the sensible message about having some community spirit, I see now the error of my ways!

posted by tombarr [17 posts]
12th February 2012 - 17:54

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It all depends on who the thief is or how many of them there are. Suggesting that it is necessary to 'man up' is simply naive, and potentially dangerously so.
If it's a big bloke with a nasty looking pitbull on a lead like the guy who did have a go at my motorbike a couple of years back, then confronting him might not be too wise. He didn't have the right tools with hm and called his mate who came in a car, while they were conferring up the road I walked over and put a big lock on the bike. They saw what I was doing and drove off - I did pass the car reg to a cop I know.
It's worth noting that junkie thieves can be pretty desperate when they're after a fix, so do you really want to confront soemone who might just be carrying some dirty old works and when confronted, might just try to stab you with it? And remember also that some thieves work in teams and that in some cities in the UK, thieves may well be carrying guns, only some of which are imitations. Having a loaded firearm pointed at your head is not an experience you forget.
If it's some scrawny looking scrote, then confronting them might not be so risky. But bear in mind too that if the situation turns ugly and the scrawny little scrote gets hurt, that assault charge may end up on you. I can't imagine having to stand up in court and explain why you thought that last kick to the groin did not represent excessive use of force would be an experience to enjoy while explaining that you were defending a stranger's property from theft would be a weak argument to employ against a prosecution claiming you were simply a vigilante thug.
Manglier's suggestion of taking a photo from a safe distance is in many ways the least confrontational, and yet potentially just as effective in stopping a theft.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
13th February 2012 - 9:29

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It's pretty funny how many people here think they would have done something if they saw this themselves.

Maybe one of you would have done...but most of you (at least) are deluding yourselves. It's easy to be brave while staring at your laptop - different story when you've got an aggressive little scumbag with a set of bolt-cutters balanced on his shoulders.

If you still think you woulda-coulda, ask yourself why no one in the actual video did. Or why have-a-go-heroes are the exception rather than the rule. It's not always cowardice - these things happen fast and by the time you figure out that perhaps you SHOULD get involved or that what's happening IS what it looks like, it's often too late.

Bottom line - if the number of people in this comment thread who say they would have stopped the thief were actually representative of the number of people in society who feel the same way, then almost no bikes would get stolen. Or people raped, or mugged, or houses burgled, or...you get the picture.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
13th February 2012 - 16:42

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Lacticlegs wrote:
It's pretty funny how many people here think they would have done something if they saw this themselves.

Maybe one of you would have done...but most of you (at least) are deluding yourselves. It's easy to be brave while staring at your laptop - different story when you've got an aggressive little scumbag with a set of bolt-cutters balanced on his shoulders.

If you still think you woulda-coulda, ask yourself why no one in the actual video did. Or why have-a-go-heroes are the exception rather than the rule. It's not always cowardice - these things happen fast and by the time you figure out that perhaps you SHOULD get involved or that what's happening IS what it looks like, it's often too late.

Bottom line - if the number of people in this comment thread who say they would have stopped the thief were actually representative of the number of people in society who feel the same way, then almost no bikes would get stolen. Or people raped, or mugged, or houses burgled, or...you get the picture.

Yep exactly, and one time not so long ago when I did speak up when I saw some anti-social behaviour the perpetrator did turn round and begin threatening me. I did the sensible thing and backed off as he was an aggressive and tough looking individual. It's easy to be a keyboard have-a-go hero, not so easy in real life and especially not when a thief is carrying something large and heavy that would make a nasty dent in the skull. Gun and knife crime is depressingly common where I live and there are also a lot of junkies with little to lose and who, as I mentioned earlier, may well be carrying a dirty set of works. These could well be infected with Hep B and Hep C (the two biggest risks) as well as HIV and it's entirely possible a smackhead would threaten you with that.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2125 posts]
13th February 2012 - 19:20

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Camera's are the best. I saw a group of scallies climbing over railings to enter a private nature reserve last year, felt a bit helpless 5 against 1 when I remembered that for once I had an SLR with a zoom over my shoulder. A quick shout to get their attention and a couple of full face capturing frames and the feral yoof all scattered in panic - hoods coming up faster than the morning turnout down the Law Courts. It felt great! Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1026 posts]
13th February 2012 - 20:40

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I've 'had a go' a couple of times - once, when I saw a scumbag rifle through a woman's bag on a train; he fecked off with a rough handling and later tried it further up the train, to a pair of really bad targets; the bloody nose he sported later was a giveaway. I bumped into a pair of Geordie lads who had stopped him in the middle of theiving again.
Second time was just last August when I confronted a couple of ratbags trying to break into my house/workshop...
they ran like hares, jumped into their van and effed off up the road sharpish. Lost Olympic material, I feel.
Sometimes, you just have to do what's right - the first time I could have sat and done nothing, but the second time was directly against me and mine and the red mist descended.

posted by Cauld Lubter [117 posts]
14th February 2012 - 17:26

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My missus would have had a go.

I'm not kidding. She once broke up a fight in an East End pub single-handed Surprise

We got free drinks all night, the landlord was that relieved Party

I try not to provoke her too much Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7894 posts]
14th February 2012 - 17:44

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fixer wrote:
On 2 occasions I've returned to my bike outside Holland Park Tube to find another bike locked to it. Both times I went back to work and got a hacksaw. I then spent about 15 minutes sawing off the lock as 100's of people spilled out of the station. Not one approached me to ask what I was doing.

I suspect that was a thief's bike being used to get you to leave your bike, so he / she could steal it.

posted by Recumbenteer [142 posts]
15th February 2012 - 22:22

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Thinking
When I did cycle training inRichmond and Surrey my favourite trick was to produce one of those combination locks with a so called chain.Pick one up for £1 or so in any cheapjack shop!. I would then use a strong pair of kitchen scissors( those with one edge serrated and cut through a link. It never ceased to amzine the kids just how easy it was!. No doubt I have tutuored a couple of bike thieves amongst them!

Sián

posted by barogerl [26 posts]
15th February 2012 - 22:27

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This looks a bit 'staged' , why the hell would a theif leave his boltcropper and the lock at the scene of the crime.

I think a pair of scissors could get through that lock.

I think physically intervening should only be done as a last resort if you are certain the thief is in the process of stealing or if you see the potential thief with tools.

a quick shout or a few snaps on a phone usually works well.

a bit of locking 'common sense' should apply as many people have a decent u lock but just lock the top tube.

posted by akhat93 [20 posts]
15th February 2012 - 22:32

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Now now boys, calm down. We're all supposed to be fellow cyclists and friends here.
The fact is that everyone is different and would have a different approach, it's just the way it is, do what you feel is right for you.
Another fact is that you don't know for sure how any thief would react if approached. Many, I believe, are just desperate for a bit of cash and do not want a confrontation. I confronted a sad case who had just nicked my front wheel by saying 'That's my wheel you've just stolen, I'll have it back'. He looked scared and said someone had just given it to him. I said 'so you're a liar as well as thief' and snatched it off him. But I knew he was a sad case, thin, pale, probably an addict after a tenner for a fix. He didn't resist, he sloped off. I was 55 years old, he was mid twenties. I think I'd have done the same if he'd looked like Mike Tyson, as I was so annoyed, but I can't be sure until it happens. Maybe leave out the insult, maybe follow him and phone the police if he refused to give it back. You have to judge each situation.
I do like the whipping out a camera and saying 'smile' solution, if you happen to have a camera on you at the time.

posted by bikeylikey [161 posts]
16th February 2012 - 9:27

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When you see a crime being committed you can't just pass by on the other side imo. I write from the perspective of someone who lives and works in two smallish country towns though, not the big (bad) city, and I'm a big unit.

I'd do what I've always done if it is a solo scrote or two or three kids. Stand at a safe distance of a couple of metres, watch 'em, and once I'm sure about what's going on I'd bellow at the top of my voice. "STOP! THIEF! That is NOT your bike! LEAVE IT! NOW!" and, these days, take a picture and phone the police.

The bolt cutters or stubby or pliers are a give away that it is a scrote at work. Honest John having been setup via the old bike-on-bike trick or having lots the keys nearly always uses a hacksaw or a poxy battery drill because they don't have the stubby or the knowledge of how to use it. Both methods take far too long and too much effort to be of use to someone who just wants to score their next fix.

The average bike thief nicking from the railings/stand in town will run a mile if you confront them. The really nasty ones drive vans and simply follow people home, or just try to push you off the bike to nick it (but that was in Stoke Newington!)

Really, though?

posted by workhard [354 posts]
16th February 2012 - 11:54

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I thought the same at the time. Although it did seem a lot of trouble to go to for a fairly battered bog-standard hybrid. But then the trouble that bike thieves go to never ceases to amaze me. If they put as much time and effort into doing something constructive...

posted by fixer [23 posts]
16th February 2012 - 13:32

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Recumbenteer wrote:
fixer wrote:
On 2 occasions I've returned to my bike outside Holland Park Tube to find another bike locked to it. Both times I went back to work and got a hacksaw. I then spent about 15 minutes sawing off the lock as 100's of people spilled out of the station. Not one approached me to ask what I was doing.

I suspect that was a thief's bike being used to get you to leave your bike, so he / she could steal it.

I thought the same at the time. Although it did seem a lot of trouble to go to for a fairly battered bog-standard hybrid. But then the trouble that bike thieves go to never ceases to amaze me. If they put as much time and effort into doing something constructive...

posted by fixer [23 posts]
16th February 2012 - 13:36

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