Police in Cambridge have staged a series of bike thefts on video to demonstrate just how easy it is for a genuine thief to walk off with a bike without being challenged or even reported.
The ‘thefts’ were staged in fairly busy public places in the city, and while the video shows plenty of people close to the ‘thief’ or even watching him, nobody even called 999.
The police have warned cyclists to use good quality locks and to lock their bikes securely to solid objects. And they have appealed to the general public to alert the police of suspicious behaviour.
According to the police, 2,100 bikes per year are stolen in Cambridge. Many are not locked at all, locked with inadequate locks or have a lock round the frame and a wheel but not a solid object. In the video, a ‘thief’ wheels away a bike with a lock around just its rear wheel and in another sequence cuts a lock with a pair of bright orange bolt croppers without being challenged.
Sergeant Andrea Gilbert said: “The CCTV is shocking because the thefts are blatant yet, despite a large number of people witnessing the crime, we didn’t receive a single call.
“Sadly people are too reliant on others to report crime, but we need everyone to play their part.
“If you don’t call police it means those thieves are potentially free to strike again, and next time you could be the victim.
“We are committed to tackling bicycle crime, which is an ongoing issue in the city, but we need the public’s help.”
How to lock your bike
In this 2011 video from the London Cycling Campaign, Barry Mason (who has sadly passed away) shows us some better locking methods than the ones used in Cambridge:
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
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.