Security marking and crackdown on dodgy classifieds pays off

Bike thefts in London are down 10 percent since October last year, thanks to an initiative called Project Cycle Ops, Transport for London says.

The number of bike thefts in London from October 2012 to the end of August 2013 was 19,052, compared with 21,488 in 2012 and 20,411 in 2011 over the same time period. Against a three-year average (used to flatten out fluctuations caused by spells of extreme weather) bike theft is down by 10.3 per cent.

Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner, said: "Many people who have their bikes stolen simply give up cycling, so cracking down on this crime is essential for the Mayor's ambition to double the number of cyclists. In the months ahead, you will see more initiatives from us to pile further pressure on the thieves and shrink the market in stolen bikes."

2,000 unclaimed bikes

If you’ve had a bike stolen and didn’t report it, it’s possible the police have recovered it. There are over  2,000 unclaimed bikes in police stations across London and the police have launched a photo gallery on Flickr in an attempt to get bikes and other items of stolen property back to their owners: 

Project Cycle Ops is a collaboration between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police and the City of London Police. Over the last year the forces have security marked and registered over 40,000 bikes on BikeRegister.com, which helps to deter thieves and reunite people with their bikes if they are lost or stolen.

As well as encouraging people to get their bikes registered and security marked, police suggest that you ask to see proof of ownership and registration before buying a second-hand bike.

Combatting the trade in stolen bikes has been a major part of Project Cycle Ops. Gumtree.com now displays a message advising users to check a bike’s serial number against bikeregister.com and offering other tips to spot stolen bikes and scams

Police have also worked behind the scenes with Gumtree to catch thieves in the act as they attempt to sell bikes and bike parts online.

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.