Bike owners have an average of 23 months before their bikes are nicked

But only a third of victims report the thefts to police

by Sarah Barth   January 6, 2013  

Bike security by Abus

Cyclists own their bikes for, on average, 23 months before they are stolen, according to a leading insurer.

One in five bike owners have their new rides stolen within six months, and a third of those whose bikes are pinched do not report the thefts to police.

Research undertaken over the summer by LV= Home Insurance shows that one in five cyclists is a victim of bike theft, and although most expect to own their bikes for ten years, in fact they only get to keep them for two years before they are taken.

Official figures show that bike theft rose by 7% last year, but this may not show the true scale of the problem, given that a third (30 per cent) of victims don’t bother to report the crime to the police.

This is because nearly half (49 per cent) don’t feel it is worth reporting and a quarter (24 per cent) simply don’t think the police will be interested.

Although official crime figures show 114,000 bicycles were stolen in 20113, the actual figure is probably much higher due to so many thefts going unreported.

Home is not the safest place for a bike, as three in ten of those who have had a bike stolen say it was taken from their shed or garage and nearly a fifth say it was stolen from their driveway.

This seems to be borne out in Bristol, where there are fears that a gang is targeting mountain bikers, following riders of high end bikes home from local ride spots and then returning to steal their bikes later.

Over the years we have reported on a number of cases in which professional and semi professional riders in the Bristol and surrounding areas have had their bikes stolen - with the thieves usually targeting only the most valuable items.

London is the worst area for bike theft, with 28 per cent of cyclists having had a bike taken. But various police forces around the country deal with bike theft differently.

We reported how thirty people have been charged and more than £10,000 of property has been recovered in an innovative operation to target bicycle thieves in Aberdeen.

Operation Inchbrae was not just about enforcement, it was a multifaceted attack on bicycle theft.

"We analysed previous bike thefts in the city, looking for crime patterns and trends," said Inspector Thom. "Similarly, we looked at the profile of criminals caught or suspected of stealing bikes and we targeted them.

"Learning from this analysis, we helped raise awareness of bike thefts in Aberdeen by circulating regular information bulletins regarding crime hotspots, recently stolen bikes and crime prevention advice, through local bike shops and cycling clubs, to ensure that we have many more 'eyes and ears' in our cycling community and among residents.

"During the operation we investigated all bike thefts, followed all leads and proactively stopped and checked cyclists, particularly in respect of lighting or road traffic offences, allowing us to check over their bikes."

In Avon and Somerset, police released a video of an officer who played the role of a thief who was able to 'steal' a bike several times in broad daylight without anyone alerting the police - and urged the public to call 999 if they saw bike theft.

In this 2011 video from the London Cycling Campaign as part of its new Beat the Thief initiative, Barry Mason (who has sadly passed away) talks us round the locking methods used on real bikes by real cyclists on some sheffield stands somewhere in London:

 

road.cc's bike locking Dos and Don'ts

  • Do lock your bike to a secure, immovable object - ideally one designed for the purpose
  • Do make sure the frame and both wheels are inside your lock, or use two locks, or locking wheel skewers on the front wheel
  • Do use a lock, and use it properly even if you are leaving your bike unattended for even a moment
  • Do remove lights and anything else that isn't securely fixed to your bike when you are locking it up
  • Do lock your bike when you get it home, especially if you keep it in a shed or garage
  • Do buy the best lock or locks that you can afford
  • Don't leave your bike unlocked and unattended even if you are just nipping in to shop
  • Don't  lock your bike up in a secluded location where a thief has time to work on your lock undisturbed
  • Don't lock your bike to trees or fences that can be easily cut through, or, posts or signs that it can be easily lifted over
  • Don't leave space in your shackle - that gives space for evil bike stealing tools to do their worst or leave your lock lying flat on the ground for the same reason
  • Don't forget your lock

We're strong believers in always filling your shackle but we're always looking for new ways to help beat bike thieves so if you've got any bike security tips you'd like to share with the crowd let's hear them!

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Always use two locks - a D-lock and a chain means that a thief needs at least two separate tools.

If you come back to your bike and it's got a mysterious puncture or damage, walk it home. It's probably been marked in the hope that you'll leave it there overnight.

Lock the bike in the most public place possible.

I superglue two small bolts into my stem so it can't be undone without removing them - a ball bearing would work just as well. Soak them in acetone to break down the glue. It's a pain but it only needs adjusting very rarely and might stop your stem/forks going missing.

Use an old chain wrapped in an inner tube to lock your saddle to the seat stays.

Use your brain – if you’re looking up a Venge on the street then it will go missing whatever.

None of these methods are fool proof – some thieves are very determined and I’ve heard reports of them driving round in vans with mobile power tools. Sadly it’s about making your bike less steal-able than the next one.

Also register the bike. If you're in London the Met will do this for free for you - http://content.met.police.uk/Article/Cycle-marking-events/1400005859885/...

Finally, if it does go missing then report it. The police will only take bike crime more seriously if they have reason to do so.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [167 posts]
6th January 2013 - 12:53

7 Likes

That "deflate to steal" happened to me in Hamburg, was just 10 mins in a shop, returned, flat back. Unlocked, pushed a few meters, pumped the back and it was fine.

With two good locks we're getting to a point, where either
a) the value of the locks exceeds the value of the bike
b) the weight of the locks exceeds the weight of your wheelset or frame.

I would be more in favour of secured parking. Pay 50 p or what ever and to not have to worry about it. (See one of the reasons I rarely shop at Harrods are the missing safe bike facilities.) No longer shall I be mistaken as a robber, just because I grab goods and run straight for the cashiers desk, being afraid my bike get stolen in the meantime Surprise

Regards,

Dr. Ko

posted by Dr. Ko [109 posts]
6th January 2013 - 14:24

6 Likes

An oldie but a goodie: Take your front wheel with you! A one wheeled bike is much less desirable to a thief.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
6th January 2013 - 14:41

12 Likes

I suppose it all depends on where you live/work, in 50 yrs I have never had a bike stolen from outdoors, sometimes I use a lock, but often I don't, depends on location I am going to and leaving my bike. However have had bikes stolen from garage (at home). I have always had a job where my bike could be left safe inside. In fact my last place of work was home at times to three or four bikes of mine, causing real problem's when I retired and they had to come home re WOR LASS. Smile

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
6th January 2013 - 18:49

10 Likes

... And 86% of all statistics are made up. Or in this case, get taller in the telling.
As far as I can see from the various news items on this report, 21% of bike owners have had a bike stolen, and these stolen bikes went in an average of 23 months. Not that the average bike get stolen after 23 months, just the average stolen bike...
The actual press release is absent from the LV website, which also suggests that there may be a problem with this story.
If this is that case, I just hope that the source of the snafu is a journalist not the LV, or do I misplace my faith in insurance companies' abilities to do statistics?

posted by clayfit [35 posts]
6th January 2013 - 20:20

8 Likes

I had one bike stolen and I did have a crappy lock at the time. I had two locks with me at the time but didn't use one; I should've known better. The second time tho my bike was properly locked but that didn't stop someone from stealing my quality suspension forks. My ratty old mountain bike rides really well and has been rebuilt with quality new parts, but it doesn't attract attention because the framed is scratched and old and dirty. I never clean it, just the chain and gears. A scruffy bike attracts less attention.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
6th January 2013 - 20:59

13 Likes

Must be an awful lot of people out there buying stolen bikes and parts.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
7th January 2013 - 11:27

7 Likes

^ ye think?!

posted by Sandy_l [25 posts]
7th January 2013 - 12:25

6 Likes

Some great work from TfGM in Manchester with regards to secure cycle parking. Underground, secure, city centre, membership-only cycle parking! http://cycling.tfgm.com/join-a-hub-city-tower.htm

Starley JKS R1

posted by dlparr [8 posts]
7th January 2013 - 12:45

8 Likes

A long time ago I used to ride a very old and very heavy Raleigh with fixed wheel, pannier rack, dynamo etc. It was very very tatty but mechanically sound.

One day i came out of my student digs to find that my lock had been stolen but the bike was still there - went and bought a new lock on the way to university. Smile

Shay

posted by shay cycles [254 posts]
7th January 2013 - 23:18

8 Likes

2 points:

1. Post by Clayfit. I do not know how the survey was conducted but the criticisms made are not justified. The statistic states that that, on average, bike owners have their bike stolen after 23 months of ownership and, of those, 20% will have their bike stolen within six months. If that is right then the average period of ownership for the 80% whose bikes are not stolen within six months will be much greater than 23 months. There may be other criticisms of the manner of the survey but I see nothing in Clayfit's particular complaint.
2. The Dos and Don'ts above omit what I consider the most effective method of avoiding bike theft, namely owning a folding bike. I have had my Brompton for 11 years. It is rarely locked as I can take it into shops, public transport, restaurants, theatres, offices and most other places. A dishonourable exception is the British Museum, whose cloakroom refuses to accept anything larger than a medium-sized shopping bag. Wherever we go my wife and I take our bikes in with us and we can keep an eye on them. We do have good locks; they just do not need to be used much. Ŵe have neither of us suffered the theft of a bike since we switched to folding bikes.

Watdabni

posted by Watdabni [7 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:15

10 Likes

Dr. Ko wrote:
I would be more in favour of secured parking. Pay 50 p or what ever and to not have to worry about it.

This is available in the Grand Arcade shopping centre in Cambridge next to the free bike parking, although I think it's £1.

Wouldn't use it all the time, but handy if you've forgotten your lock or are riding something unsuitably expensive.

posted by HKCambridge [172 posts]
8th January 2013 - 15:44

10 Likes

The other option is to use a folding bike that can be conveniently taken inside for safe storage under the desk or in in the store room.

Mark Bickerton
UK for Tern Bicycles, Biologic

Mark Bickerton's picture

posted by Mark Bickerton [12 posts]
10th January 2013 - 8:57

6 Likes

Sandy_l wrote:
^ ye think?!

It's not at all clear who or what you were responding to, which rather makes your comment pointless.

posted by Recumbenteer [153 posts]
10th January 2013 - 11:26

7 Likes

...take a look at Sold Secure's website for Insurer-approved, high quality locks, too.

Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades. (Merckx)

obutterwick's picture

posted by obutterwick [536 posts]
14th August 2013 - 15:19

6 Likes