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Surge in bike thefts leaves York authorities scratching their heads

Five bikes a day now going missing; police advise cyclists to buy better locks

Council leaders and police in York admit to being ‘perplexed’ by a recent surge in bike thefts that’s led to five bikes being stolen in the city every day.

Cycling City York manager Graham Titchener told the York Press, “A lot of these thefts are opportunist – we are not talking about some organised crime wave here.”

Local police say cyclists need to take more care of their bikes. A spokesperson said: “From analysing reported incidents, the main area of concern is how users either leave cycles unlocked or use inadequate locks.

“The cycles are also left in inappropriate areas such as unlit streets, out of sight, around the corners of buildings or simply dumped on a pavement. These are all places criminals look for and know about.”

The figures show 820 bikes have been stolen so far this year with 161 stolen alone in July – equivalent to five a day.

Twice as many cycles were reported stolen at the University of York in July compared with the same time last year and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team is now using covert techniques and plain clothes officers in a bid to catch the offenders.

Police have tried various initiatives to deter thieves, such as Operation Spoke, which saw 4,000 bikes tagged with a UV mark to increase the chances of them being returned if stolen.

Cycles with RedWeb technology – tracking devices left on cycles to trap offenders – are also frequently deployed.

Graham Titchener said “a serious amount of money” from the Cycling City budget had been ploughed into cycling safety and security in the city.

“We want people to cycle more so we need to spend money to make sure cycling is safe and secure,” he said. There has been a rise in the number of cyclists in the city and the number of bikes being purchased, so that might be one factor.

“But I have to say we are perplexed. I would say people need to invest in decent locks – those that only cost a couple of pounds are not adequate.”

CTC York spokesman Paul Hepworth said more money was needed to cover parts of the city not yet covered by CCTV.

He said: “Anyone who has spent hard-earned money on a bike, especially an expensive one, is going to be naturally upset by the theft of their cycle.”

Lifelong lover of most things cycling-related, from Moulton Mini adventures in the 70s to London bike messengering in the 80s, commuting in the 90s, mountain biking in the noughties and road cycling throughout. Editor of Simpson Magazine ( 

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