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The only thing worse than finding your bike is stolen is finding you can't ride it home

Today, Stolenride.co.uk has launched its #HalfEatenRide initiative to raise awareness of the issue of bikes that are stripped bare of components by thieves in London.

> #HalfEatenRide campaign launched to highlight issue of bikes stripped of parts in London

In this blog post, the website’s founder Rich Cantle speaks to Candide, who has been a victim of such a theft three times in the three years that she has been riding a bike in the capital, the most recent incident happening last Saturday.

She is now considering giving up cycling altogether. Here are his questions and her responses.

Tell us about you and cycling in London? Why and where do you cycle?

I bought my first bicycle just over three years ago. I mostly use the bicycle on weekdays to reach the nearest tube or train station where I leave it parked for the day before cycling home in the evening. 

I don’t drive a car so at the weekends I use the bike to go grocery shopping in my area, and since I live near the Thames Path I enjoy longer rides at the weekend to explore different areas across Greenwich where I live.

So you have been a victim of ‘bike-stripping’ in London? Tell us about it.

My first experience with bike stripping was having my bike lights stolen. 

This month, just six days after having bought a brand new bike to replace one that had been stolen from me in July, I got back to the tube station to find my front wheel had been stripped. Luckily a friend was with me and helped me get the one-wheeled frame home and it took over 10 days to order the parts and £95 to get it replaced. 

A week later, I returned from a day out by train to find my bike had no wheels at all, and the thieves had also clearly tried stripping the saddle as well as they had yanked it as far out of the frame as it would go. As a result the gear chain had also been damaged and there was damage to the brake lines as well.

So this has happened to you on three separate occasions now in London. Have all three incidents been similar?

All three incidents have taken place during broad daylight and in direct view of a CCTV camera. On all occasions the bike was securely locked at a proper bike rack at either the tube or train station. On two of those occasions the cycle rack was in an area of high foot traffic. The thieves also left the snapped locks at the scene. 

On all occasions I returned after rush hour when most bikes are collected by their owners and when my bike has been one of only a handful left in the parking area.

What support did you receive from the police, or others, after each incident?

Virtually none. The police are sympathetic, but don’t have the resources to go through hours of CCTV footage for a stolen bike let alone stripped bike parts. The station staff are not helpful either, even though they own the CCTV cameras.

What impact have these crimes had on your life?

Massively inconvenient. Like I said I use the bike daily to get to trains or to buy groceries or simply get around the Borough. I also feel less safe around  the public transport stations as that’s where the thefts happen and it feels like such a violation of personal property that the entire area just feels less safe for me.

Have your views on cycling in London changed?

Sadly yes. I am on the verge of giving up on cycling altogether. It is very costly keeping up with bike part replacements, even with insurance as I have to pay excess fees. I feel like cycling should just be for leisure at the weekends when I leave the house and don’t park it anywhere public till I return home and secure it inside the property.

What security did you use on your bike and bike parts? Was there a difference between the first and last incident?

After the first incident I upgraded the lock from a numerical-code cable lock to a D-lock. After the second theft I upgraded again by adding a loop cable to the D-lock. I also took out insurance after my last bike was stolen. It feels like whatever I do the thieves are one or two steps ahead. Note that my bike isn’t even an expensive one (under £200) and so my investment in security as a percentage of the bike price is quite significant.

Has anyone provided any tips on how to lock the bike or how to secure the individual parts?

Yes and no – when the first wheel was stripped I asked the bike workshop to remove the quick release but was told that’s not possible for my model/wheel size. They advised to use the loop with the D-lock but that didn’t seem to make a difference as I still had both wheels stripped after doing so.

Is bike-stripping talked about enough and do you think it’s a big problem in London? 

I think it’s a huge problem in London, and I also feel like the brazenness of the thieves is just getting worse. It feels like they know no authority will do anything about it – as I mentioned my wheels were taken in broad daylight near a CCTV camera. They know the police won’t investigate and they’ll get away with it.

Bike thefts are commonplace and a well-known fact of life in London, but bike stripping is hardly discussed at all. In fact, I naively always thought when I saw a wheel-less bike frame locked to a bike rack that the owner must have released and taken with them for security. It never occurred to me that the wheels are most likely stolen. I also feel like anyone taking up cycling in the city should be made aware of what bike stripping is and what they can do to protect their rides in public parking areas.

What do you think can be done about bike-stripping in London? What advice would you have for fellow cyclists?

I think there should be better enforcement for both bike thefts and stolen bike parts. There is no deterrent whatsoever at the moment. My advice to fellow cyclists is to always have insurance even if their bike is not worth a lot of money as the cost of replacing parts can be more than the price of a new bike, and to try to limit the number of hours they are away from the bike to standard work hours – so if you know you’re meeting friends after work avoid leaving your bike as it will most likely end up being the only one at the rack and attract the attention of thieves.

8 comments

Avatar
RoubaixCube [89 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes

I may be barking up the wrong tree here, but if thats a pic of the aftermath then im not surpised her bike was striped/stolen...

Also after the second time her bike was stolen, Im not sure why she didnt consider getting her next bike insured. It costs me £6-7p/m to insure my bike upto a value of £1200-1400. Im sure it would be a lot less for her.

The red lock looks like a cheap Abus that you can get for £20, Maybe she should of also considered investing in a more premium heavy duty lock or two alongside bike insurance.

 

maybe be a little more insightful when finding a place to lock her bike up. I know that sometimes theives can strike even in the most protected and safest looking spaces.

 

And i say this having commuted to and from work by bicycle in central london for 5years and never had anything stolen off it. (touch wood)

 

If they can strip or attempt to strip the components but the wheels are secured and locked properly then at least she could of freewheeled or scooted home.

 

I am sorry for her loss . 3 bikes is a terrible loss , but I have to question her luck as well as logic when it comes to places where she locks her bike up.

 

 

If my post comes across as arogant or 'c*ntish' then i deeply apologise.

Avatar
a1white [141 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
RoubaixCube wrote:

The red lock looks like a cheap Abus that you can get for £20, Maybe she should of also considered investing in a more premium heavy duty lock or two alongside bike insurance

I don't think there is anything much wrong with the lock (it wasn't broken, and is possibly a secure silver, at the least). What is wrong is the locking method. If she'd have put the D-lock through the frame AND the back wheel, locking it to the frame, then the back wheel at least would have been secure. She was unlucky with the front wheel a Cable such as that is usually sufficient for the wheel. You are right though, If leaving all day though, at a station (especially a new shiny looking bike), she should  consider using a second lock. Having your lights nicked, is a bit careless (always remove them), but doesn't count as "having your bike stripped". Lights can easily be replaced.

My worst "stripping" experience was a number of years back, leaving my new road bike just off Euston road and coming back to it a a couple of hours later to find the handlebars (brifters), and derailers gone. It was only Tiagra FFS! The wheels (locked with a D-Lock through the back wheel and a cable through the front, where still in place. Being my first Road bike, which I'd saved up for, I was a bit devastated. I did have insurance though, and they did pay up for the repairs, even though the lock was not broken. (thanks ETA insurance).

 

Avatar
srchar [1037 posts] 2 weeks ago
4 likes

My London lock-up bike has Pitlock wheel skewers and 5-point torx tamper-resistant bolts for stem and seatpost.  Not a huge outlay and makes nicking bits enough of a faff that a thief would go and find another victim.

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DaveE128 [1003 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes

I feel sorry for her and the blame is firmly with the thief. However, putting the D lock through the rear wheel in future will avoid an expensive back wheel loss. More details here: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/lock-strategy.html

Regarding the front wheel skewer, she was badly advised. (Halfrauds by any chance?) That bike has 100% standard quick releases that can be replaced with security skewers. They were talking about a replacement wheel with solid axles.
£9, should deter casual theives, mtb length, only front will work with many road bikes http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/halo-xl-hex-key-skewer-set/rp-prod26622

£15 for one wheel, a bit more secure as normal hex key won't work:
https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Halo-Anti-Theft-Skewer_102563.htm

£27 front only, more secure still, don't lose the single key provided! http://www.wiggle.co.uk/pitlock-security-wheel-skewer-front/

Really bikes sold for commuting use (Carrera Hybrids included) ought to come with these as standard. Too many retailers, bike companies and cyclists think bikes are only for leisure  2

The Police were apparently dead lazy in this case. It would be relatively quick to find the footage as it should be easy to tell from any moment of the footage whether it's before or after the theft. Start half way through period bike was left, if it's already been hit, go halfway between start and time checked. Rinse and repeat. For a 12-hour period you can cut down to about 3 minutes to watch in 8 attempts. I bet they'd make more effort for stolen car parts.  2

It's have badgered the rail staff until they let me access the DVR. You have to be quick though, footage isn't kept long before being overwritten.

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Mungecrundle [1103 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Infuriating situation re CCTV. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to any issues with releasing footage to the public, probably some GDPR related nonsense. Really easy to review 12 hours of footage as per DaveE128 above and submit any decent stills of the actual theft to the transport Police.

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2520 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Mungecrundle wrote:

Infuriating situation re CCTV. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to any issues with releasing footage to the public, probably some GDPR related nonsense. Really easy to review 12 hours of footage as per DaveE128 above and submit any decent stills of the actual theft to the transport Police.

Under GDPR, having a legal basis for the information would take priority in most cases. However, that may not be relevant to releasing it to the public rather than the authorities.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the CCTV footage alone wouldn't be considered as personal information (especially if it is of a public place) as you wouldn't be able to identify individuals by that information alone (unless you happen to recognise the scrotes).

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jacknorell [1014 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Had multiple issues with bike stripping while living in Bristol but not in London yet. It's infuriating and costly, while the thieves make pennies on any parts. I wish manufacturers would put proper and indelible serial numbers on all parts where at all possible. My carbon frame only has a sticker for example....

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Username [238 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

The Jeremy Hunts will get you one way or another.

I remember leaving the Sobel Centre once, chatting to my mate, we were talking about bike theft and I commented that the good thing about owning such an old beater bike like mine is knowing it will never be stolen.

At that we rounded the corner to where my old beater was locked up and the hunts hadn't stolen it, they had kicked both wheels in.