A major police operation against bike thieves in London earlier this week has resulted in 45 people being arrested and 14 stolen bicycles recovered.
On Wednesday, more than 400 police officers and police community support officers took part in the operation, co-ordinated by the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Transport Command, and spanning all 32 of the capital’s boroughs.
Plain clothes and uniformed officers patrolled known bike theft hotspots, and officers also visited pawn shops to check whether they were selling on stolen bikes.
In Hillingdon, West London, an 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods after he was stopped while riding a bike and wheeling a second one alongside him.
Police say that checks revealed that the saddle and wheel of one of the bikes came from one stolen in West Drayton the previous day.
Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor from the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Transport Command said: "Bike theft has a huge impact on Londoners, costing over £10m per year and yesterday's activity has seen some excellent results helping to crackdown on cycle theft even further.
“We continue to work with TfL and other police agencies to ensure the best chances of bringing offenders to justice, restoring stolen bikes to their rightful owners and prevent anybody buying stolen property."
According to the Met, in the 2013/14 financial year there were almost 2,000 fewer recorded instances of cycle theft in London compared to the previous 12 months, a 9 per cent year-on-year drop.
Siwan Hayward deputy director of enforcement and on-street operations, commented: “Tackling cycle theft is an important step for us at TfL in achieving the Mayor’s ambition to get more people cycling, and so we are very supportive of this action by the TfL funded Safer Transport Command.
“With the sun now shining, it’s a great time to get on your bike - but please take a few simple steps to deter thieves by having it Bike Register security marked, using really good locks of gold ‘sold secure standard’, and locking your bike well both on street and when it’s parked in your garden, shed or communal hall,” she added.
Over the years we’ve compiled a definitive set of anti bike theft tips, with input from the road.cc community. Here they are:
• Lock your bike to a secure, immovable object. Trees and certain pieces of street furniture don’t make particularly good locking locations; trees limbs can be sawed through, and your bike can often be lifted over bollards and signposts.
• Your wheels are the most vulnerable part of your bike. Make sure that your lock goes through both wheels and the frame, or use two locks: one for each wheel. Alternatively you can invest in a locking wheel skewer for your front wheel.
• It doesn’t take long to steal a bike. Make sure that you lock your bike up properly whether you are leaving it for 30 seconds or half an hour.
• Bike lights and other items and accessories that are not secured to your bike are easy pickings for thieves. Take them with you whenever you leave your bike.
• No matter how safe you feel in your home, your bike is still at risk, especially if it’s in your garage or your shed. Lock it up at home like you would if you were on the street.
• Not all bike locks are cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. If you treasure your bike, buying the best locks that you can afford would be a wise investment.
• If you come back to your bike and it's got a mysterious puncture or damage, walk it home. It's probably been marked in the hope that you'll leave it there overnight.
• Consider using a registration service, such as Bike Register, to physically mark your bike with an identifying feature and link it to your identity on the police database. Certain councils and police constabularies offer free solutions, and there are alternatives to Bike Register.
• If it does go missing you must report it. The police will only take bike crime more seriously if they have reason to do so.
• If you're down to one lock, or are particularly worried about the security of your wheel, taking your front wheel with you eliminates half of the risk of theft immediately.
• Use secure bike parking wherever possible. Even for a price, your bike will be far better protected from theft inside a designated secure location rather than on the street, no matter how well you think you’ve locked it up.
• Make sure that you lock your bike up in as public of a place as possible. If you leave it in a secluded location, it will give any would-be thief time to work on your lock undisturbed.
• Make the lock mechanism itself hard to access. For example if you're locking your bike to railings, point the lock mechanism away from the street so it's harder for a thief to attack.
• Don't leave space in your shackle - any extra space gives evil bike stealing tools the room they need to do their dirty work. Don't give them that opportunity.
• If you’ve taken out insurance on your bike don’t buy any old lock. Make sure that the locks that you have purchased are featured on Sold Secure’s approved products list as many insurance companies insist on their use.
• But most importantly, wherever you’re going, please do not forget your lock!
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.