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Manchester IT manager says bike thieves used Strava cycling app to target him

Warns users to check their security settings

An IT manager from Failsworth is warning Strava users to review their privacy settings after having two bikes stolen from his garage. Mark Leigh’s home location and bike model were public as he said he had not been aware of the website’s privacy settings.

The Manchester Evening News reports that Leigh had two bikes stolen – one worth £500, the other worth £1,000. He had earlier secured them in his garage having been for a ride that day.

Yorkshire cyclist creates giant bike on Strava

“I’d come back from a ride around the Saddleworth hills, which I tracked on Strava. I locked my bike in the garage next to another one. The following morning my garage had been cleverly broken into and they were gone.

“My garage is not highly visible. I live on a narrow cul-de-sac - the only explanation I can think of is Strava, as my route ended at my home address. They broke the garage door. They took the bikes and nothing else. There was lots of other stuff they could have taken too – tools, valuables – but they left them. This was not random.”

As part of Strava’s ‘enhanced privacy mode’ users can enter a location and any activity within a 500m-1km radius of that address will be hidden from other users. Mark is warning other cyclists to make use of the settings, adding: “The other option is to start your route a couple of hundred yards from your house so you aren’t advertising where you are.”

Mark reported the thefts to the police, but the bikes have not been recovered and he has now bought a new one.

Nick Hubble, of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, said that Leigh’s was a common problem. “I’ve heard and read about a lot of thefts which people believe are as a result of advertising your whereabouts. These tools are incredibly useful for logging performance but you do have to be incredibly careful, set privacy zones, because criminals are becoming very tech-savvy.”

Following a spate of thefts in Carmarthenshire last year, police advised cyclists to treat online security as seriously as locking their bikes up. We produced a Strava security guide at the time.

Simon Klima, UK manager at Strava, commented:

“We believe it is important that our members have the tools to protect themselves and control the detail of information they share. While we have not been able to confirm any cases of theft related to Strava activity uploads, we do offer a rich set of easy-to-use privacy controls for all our members.

“As a leading social network for athletes, Strava gives members the tools to manage the information they share with friends and followers. They can set privacy zones around any address such as home or office addresses, so that start and end locations of their activities aren’t shared publicly.”

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