Police urge riders to be security-conscious in city of stolen bikes

Cambridge may not have been able to beat Oxford in the Boat Race last month, but there's one way in which the city is romping ahead of its ancient rival: bike theft.

New data released by police for 15 cities across the UK shows that on average there are six bike thefts per 1000 population, But in Cambridge that number soars to 17.56 with Oxford in second place at 11.91 followed by Reading at 4.63 and York at 4.13, according to Cambridge News.

Despite crackdown on bike theft in recent months, police say Cambridge's bike theft rate is soaring along with its population.

Sgt Chris Horton said: "It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the crime rates of other force areas, however, broadly speaking, the increase in cycle thefts is in line with the growing population within the city.

"We are well aware of the high levels of cycle theft within the city, and while we are doing all we can to bring those responsible to justice, we continue to urge members of the public to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of having their cycle stolen."

Between April 1 last year and the end of February this year, 2,138 bikes were stolen in Cambridge, up from 1,809 in the sae period in 2013/14 and 1,980 for 2012/13.

Police have been using plain clothes patrols to combat bike theft in the city, and have historically used 'bait bikes' to snare thieves.

But Cambridge has so many bikes that thieves have taken to commuting up from London to harvest the city's easy pickings.

And far too many bikes are poorly secured. Cambridge police recently warned against the use of cheap locks that are so flimsy they can be broken with bare hands.

Sgt Horton added: "Local police urgently require the public's help in order to combat cycle theft which is an issue across the country. A number of measures are being adopting in an attempt to prevent and detect cycle crime such as saving your bike details as a contact in your mobile phone.

"If you have any suspicions or knowledge of people stealing bikes, please call us on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.