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Bicycle thefts on the rise in Oxford

Number of stolen bikes up nearly 40% in last two years

Bicycle thefts in Oxford are running at their highest level for five years, according to Thames Valley Police, with 2,137 stolen in the year to April 2010, a 16.4% increase on the previous year.

According to BBC Oxford News, police have said that with more and more people cycling into Oxford, lack of suitable bike parking is one of the contributory factors, but Oxfordshire County Council claims that there is adequate provision in the university city.

Sergeant Claire Storry said: "There aren't adequate, secure places to park bikes. Bike parts are being taken by opportunists. If bits are easy to take off, and wheels are not secured, then they are easy to steal. They are also easy to sell on if people want to make money out of them."

But Councillor Arash Fatemian of Oxfordshire County Council disagreed, saying: "There is plenty of parking in the city. Many employers, both public and private, provide secure bike parking for employees. They might not necessarily be always in front of you, but I have always found somewhere to lock my bike."

Reported bike thefts in Oxford in 2009/10 were slightly more than the level seen in the 12 months to April 2006, when 2,107 were stolen. Within two years, that figure had fallen to 1,551 in the year to April 2008, but in the two years since then, the number of thefts has risen by 37.8%.

In a 2009 survey of cycle parking provision in the city, local cycling campaign group Cyclox reiterated calls it had made in a previous survey in 2009 for greater provision to be made in the city.

The survey, carried out in January 2009, identified 1,000 bikes parked either loose or secured to railings, and also highlighted the problem of abandoned bikes taking up space on existing facilities, with three in four bicycles on one bike rack, outside the Lamb & Flag pub on St Giles, being abandoned.

Simon joined 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.

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londonplayer | 13 years ago

Would it be possible to install covered bike parking areas? Access would only be possible with a pass key. In order to get a pass key, you would need to register with, say, the local council, to be given access to the bike parking area.

There must be methods that can be passed on from Boris' bike scheme to other cyclists. Why should Boris' bikes be so secure when the rest of us have to chance it when we lock our bikes up?

Has anyone invented a tracker device for bikes yet? It surely must be possible.

robike | 13 years ago

I expect abandoned bikes are a worldwide problem. Are there any "working" laws or methods that keep the problem to a minimum - without local councils stealing the bikes themselves?

handlebarcam | 13 years ago

Councillor Arash Fatemian of Oxfordshire County Council disagreed, saying: "There is plenty of parking in the city."

Yeah, councillor, you run with that, you convince yourself. Nevermind that the only bike parking I can find with "plenty" of unused capacity is outside the OCC offices. And, from the light on the buildings, and the lack of the customary huge crowds of babbling teenage tourists, I'd say the StreetView car was driving around the centre of Oxford at about 5:44am

colonel wax | 13 years ago

The figure is probably even higher, I had my Ammaco hybrid nicked from Oxford train station but there was no point reporting it - it cost less than the excess on my insurance. Plenty of nicer bikes locked around it, I hearda rumour that cheapo bikes were being nicked for scrap?

Simon_MacMichael | 13 years ago

A couple of years ago, slap bang in the middle of Oxford (Ship Street, if you know it, a quiet street that runs off Cornmarket), I saw a white van pull up, two guys got out, one opened the back door, the other picked up a bike that wasn't locked to anything, threw it in the back, and off they drove.

Whole thing took about 10 seconds. I was about 100 yards away, no chance of getting registration number, and my shout of "Oi!" didn't register.

So yes, on the one hand we need to tackle the market, but on the other, some people really make it far too easy for the thieves.

gazzaputt | 13 years ago

There is a market for stolen bikes. People are willing to buy stolen bikes.

Until people and shops stop buying stolen bikes and parts with no questions asked thefts will increase.

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