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Oxford's OX1 postcode tops list for reported bike thefts

Top ten postcodes most popular among thieves include two each in Oxford and Cambridge and three in London

Oxford’s OX1 postcode has been revealed as the postcode in England & Wales with the highest number of bike thefts recorded in the year to April 2014 with nearly 850 bicycles stolen during the 12-month period.

The list of the top ten postcodes in terms of reported thefts was compiled by the website Check That Bike using police data, reports Telegraph.co.uk.

Cambridge, which has a much higher proportion of people cycling regularly than Oxford does, came second through its own CB1 postcode – as in the case of its fellow university city, one that includes many of its colleges, as well as their respective central shopping districts.

Two other postcodes in the cities – OX4 and CB2 – took fourth and fifth place respectively, while the third worst postcode for cycle theft was London’s SE1, which includes the South Bank, Waterloo Station, Borough Market and Elephant & Castle.

London’s E1 postcode, encompassing areas such as Brick Lane and Shoreditch, came sixth, with the rest of the top ten including three locations away from the capital and the Oxbridge cities, respectively BS1 (Bristol), PO1 (Portsmouth), LE1 (Leicester), followed by London’s N1, which includes King’s Cross and Angel, in tenth place.

Top ten postcodes in England & Wales for reported bike theft, 2013/14

1 – Oxford OX1 – 846 thefts reported
2 – Cambridge CB1 – 781
3 – London SE1 – 734
4 – Oxford OX4 – 572
5 – Cambridge CB2 – 564
6 – London E1 – 557
7 – Bristol BS1 – 497
8 – Portsmouth PO1 – 495
9 – Leicester LS1 – 491
10 – London N1 – 456

Check That Bike’s founder John Moss told the Telegraph the data covered 92,508 reported thefts of bicycles.

The idea for his website, which collates frame number data from a variety of sources including using Freedom of Information requests, came about after his own bike was stolen.

The website, which enables victims of cycle theft and potential purchasers of second hand bikes to check data, won the Crime and Justice Open Data Challenge.

He told the Telegraph: “The site is intended to disrupt the process of selling stolen bikes,” adding that since going live it has tracked down 1,097 stolen bikes at a rate of more than 180 a month.

Postcodes do not provide a definitive answer to the question of which towns and cities have the worst record for bike theft, however, given there are other ways of gauging the extent of the problem.

One method used by Cambridgeshire County Council in a 2020 report was to look at the ratio of reported cycle thefts per 1,000 inhabitants, concluding that it was 75 per cent higher in Cambridge than Oxford, with Reading in third place.

In 2011, Halfords highlighted police data that showed that more than four times as many bicycles were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police than any other force, unsurprising given the size of London, with forces in Thames Valley – which includes Oxford and Reading – second, Greater Manchester third and Cambridgeshire fourth.

Analysis of those data by road.cc found that City of London Police had by far the highest ratio of reported bike thefts by head of population, due to its low number of residents and the sheer number of people commuting into work by bike, making the area attractive to thieves – with Cambridgeshire coming second.

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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