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London Mayor urged to use bait bikes to catch thieves

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.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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