Figures show steep rise in bike thefts in Westminster

Labour London Assembly Member Valerie Shawcross, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee, has called on Mayor Boris Johnson – himself a seven-time victim of bike crime – endorse using “bait bicycles" to help catch habitual bike thieves.

Ms Shawcross says that bicycles furnished with electronic tags have been successfully used by police to combat criminal gangs targeting expensive bicycles in and around London Bridge Station, which is in her Southwark constituency.

According to the Press Association, there has been a sharp rise in the number of bike thefts in London in recent months, with a 75% rise in the City of Westminster alone in the last four months. That followed a 6% rise in the number of bicycles stolen London-wide to 18,218 in the 2008/09 financial year.

Factors behind the increase thought to include an increase in the number of people cycling to work and a burgeoning market for second-hand bikes, many of which turn out to be stolen and are sold through websites such as eBay and Gumtree, as well as through places like the notorious Brick Lane market.

We've reported before on road.cc about how police in Oxford successfully deployed an expensive decoy bike to lure unsuspecting bike thieves. In a nice touch, the police had removed a vital pawl from the freewheel, meaning that when the would-be thief jumped on the bike to make their getaway, the pedals went round but the wheels didn't, allowing officers to step in and make the arrest.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.