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Bike insurer ETA says theft of bicycles through muggings on the rise (+ video)

As many cases recorded in first three months of 2011 as in whole of 2010

There has been a dramatic rise in instances of cyclists being mugged for their bikes, according to bike insurance firm the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), with the problem not just confined to urban areas. The ETA says that in the first three months of 2011, it has received as many claims for this type of theft as it did in the whole of 2010.

The insurer added that there is also a variation in the value of bicycle stolen in this way, as well as the degree of violence used against the victim, ranging from “having the bike snatched to serious physical assault and in one case a cyclist was threatened with a knife.”

A spokesperson for the ETA, whose policies provide cover against this type of theft, commented: “The total number of cyclists affected by this crime remains thankfully small, but the increase is dramatic and of concern.

“We can’t know for certain why bicycle muggings seem to be on the increase. It may be that it is not a trend, but rather an unpleasant ‘fad’ amongst criminals, but whatever the case our perception is that the police are taking the attacks seriously and in at least one case a man has been arrested.”

The ETA says that in response to threats such as mugging and bike theft generally, some cyclists are letting their bikes rust to make them less tempting to thieves, and says that “such rat bikes look set to become a cycling trend in their own right” – although of course cycle couriers and others have been taping up their frames for years to try and disguise what’s beneath and make them less attractive to thieves.

The company also mentions the instance of a cyclist in Africa who reputedly became so fed up with his bike being stolen that he devised a spring loaded knife in the seat post that deployed when a thief began pedalling – in keeping, perhaps, with Corporal Jones’s advice to Captain Mainwairing in Dad’s Army that they really do not like it up ‘em.

The ETA, whose cover for bikes includes new-for-old replacement, accidental damage including while racing and third party and personal accident cover, itself built its own custom anti-theft bicycle last year, including a James Bond-style ejector seat, as shown in this video.


Simon has been news editor at 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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