Bike theft rose by almost 50 per cent in June, according to national cycle database BikeRegister, following a dip in the number of stolen bikes it had logged over the preceding months.
The sharpest year-on-year fall was seen in April, down a quarter on the same month the previous year, and when the most stringent restrictions on movement were in place to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
May was almost back to last year’s levels, however, before June witnessed jump of 48 per cent compared to 2019 in figures released by BikeRegister for the first six months of the year.
James Brown, managing director of Selectamark, which runs BikeRegister, said: “Thieves will have struggled to commit crimes during lockdown due to the restrictions that were in place.
“However, as these restrictions are starting to ease and people are moving around more, criminals are facing an easier task, and they have the bonus of being able to target the thousands of new bikes bought during the last few months.
“Registering on BikeRegister means you could be reunited with your bike in the event of it being stolen,” he continued. “Most importantly, to reduce the chances of becoming a victim of cycle theft in the first place, security marking your bike is also recommended, as it is a proven theft deterrent.”
Currently, there are some 930,000 bicycles registered on the system, which is used by all UK police forces to check to see whether bikes recovered have been reported stolen.
Brown added: “Some new bike owners who purchased their bikes during lockdown will not necessarily be aware of the recent rise of cycle crime and what measures they need to take to combat it.
“As we move out of lockdown, I would ask all cycle retailers to play their part in helping reduce cycle crime too. They can do this by checking any second-hand bike offered to them on our free BikeChecker service on the website to make sure it has not been reported as stolen.
“They could also become a stockist of our retail marking kits and encourage each customer to use one to protect their new bike as soon as they have purchased it.”
Superintendent Mark Cleland of British Transport Police, who is the national lead for cycle crime, said: ”There has been a huge surge in the purchase and use of bicycles during the pandemic and as we all exit lockdown there is a risk that criminals will benefit from poor locks and a lack of knowledge relating to what good cycle security looks like.”
As we previously reported on road.cc, the decrease in bike theft during that period was due to a combination of factors, including people who might usually cycle to the station no longer commuting, with British Transport Police saying that the number of thefts reported to it had plummeted by 78 per cent.
And while there was a huge surge in the number of people cycling for exercise, particularly at weekends, those would have been trips starting and finishing at home without leaving the bike locked up and unattended in between.
That doesn’t mean that bike thieves stayed at home like everyone else, however – during late March and into April there were regularly stories in both local and national newspapers of NHS workers who had fallen victim to theft as hospitals were targeted instead, with demand for second-hand bicycles making it easy for thieves to quickly sell them on.
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.