Police on Tyneside say there has been a big increase in cycle theft in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in recent months, and have warned cyclists that thieves are increasingly targeting expensive bikes. Officers believe many of the bikes are being sold on websites such as Gumtree.
In June and July, 170 bikes were reported stolen in the city, reports the Chronicle. Of those, 65 were taken from the owner’s home, with the remainder stolen from where they had been left, including high-footfall city-centre locations.
In 50 instances, the bike had not been secured with a lock, which Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt from Northumbria Police told the newspaper was a common factor in cycle thefts.
“The majority of bike thefts are carried out by opportunist thieves who take advantage when they see a bike left unattended and insecure,” she explained.
With cycling on the rise and sales of expensive bikes rocketing in recent years, police say they are noticing a shift in the pattern of cycle theft.
“In other cases, those responsible will cut locks from bikes which have been left attached to a lamppost or railings,” Chief Inspector Pitt went on.
“It’s a crime that may seem quite low level but it has an impact on the individual - some of these bikes are worth up to £2,000 and so can be a great loss to a cyclist.
“We continue to do everything we can to trace the people believed to be involved in this type of crime - including patrolling those areas where we know offences taken place and those people we know are involved in this type of crime,” she added.
She explained that police are keeping an eye on websites such as Gumtree in the hope of spotting stolen bikes that have been put up for sale, as well as identifying people who regularly sell bicycles online.
One man has been arrested for using Gumtree to dispose of bicycles he had stolen, and in all Northumbria Police have arrested more than 20 people in connection with cycle theft over the summer, and many others for handling stolen property.
Chief Inspector Pitt outlined measures police are taking to try and beat the thieves.
“Over the recent weeks we’ve been cracking down on thieves as part of Operation Soundwave, tackling the people involved in opportunist thefts, and this will continue during the warm summer months when more people are out and about on their bikes,” she explained.
“We recover bikes we suspect are stolen but we don’t have any details of the original owner.
“We encourage cyclists to register with free website immobilise.com, where details of the bike’s make, model, serial number and other features can be recorded along with a photograph.”
This Saturday, police will be holding a free bike marking event at Northumberland Street in Newcastle city centre from 2pm to 4pm.
Details of each bike will be held on file to enable it to be reunited with its owner should it be stolen and subsequently recovered.
Last weekend, 70 of the 400 cyclists taking part in the Bike for Bobby ride which raised funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation benefited from the free bike marking service when they returned to St James’s Park at the end of the event.
road.cc's bike locking Dos and Don'ts
Do lock your bike to a secure, immovable object - ideally one designed for the purpose
Do make sure the frame and both wheels are inside your lock, or use two locks, or locking wheel skewers on the front wheel
Do use a lock, and use it properly even if you are leaving your bike unattended for even a moment
Do remove lights and anything else that isn't securely fixed to your bike when you are locking it up
Do lock your bike when you get it home, especially if you keep it in a shed or garage
Do buy the best lock or locks that you can afford
Don't leave your bike unlocked and unattended even if you are just nipping in to shop
Don't lock your bike up in a secluded location where a thief has time to work on your lock undisturbed
Don't lock your bike to trees or fences that can be easily cut through, or, posts or signs that it can be easily lifted over
Don't leave space in your shackle - that gives space for evil bike stealing tools to do their worst or leave your lock lying flat on the ground for the same reason
Don't forget your lock
We're strong believers in always filling your shackle but we're always looking for new ways to help beat bike thieves so if you've got any bike security tips you'd like to share let's hear them!
Simon has been news editor at road.cc 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.