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Bike thefts up by almost 50 per cent during lockdown, says insurer

News comes as one specialist reports surge of interest in bike cover, while another secures funding for growth

A leading insurer says that it has seen a big increase in thefts of bicycles since the UK entered lockdown, with claims up by 46 per cent. The news coincides with online enquiries for cycle insurance also seeing a spike in recent weeks, and a specialist bike insurer securing funding to continue its growth.

Admiral says that while theft in general has fallen since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced restrictions on movement, more than one in three theft claims lodged with it between 23 March and 10 May related to theft of a bicycle, accounting for 37 per cent of claims compared to 12 per cent a year earlier.

Among the reasons the insurer believes are behind the spike in claims is the fact that with many key workers using bikes to get to work instead of public transport, they represent an easy target for thieves, and with more people staying indoors are a less risky form of crime than housebreaking.

“One of the effects of the lockdown has been so many more people buying bikes for exercise or just to get around,” said David Fowkes, the company’s head of household underwriting.

“Several cycle retailers have reported that they’ve sold out of many models, and while this is good news for the nation’s fitness, our data suggests it’s also resulted in an increase in bicycle theft.

“We’ve seen a 46 per cent increase in the number of bicycle theft claims over the last seven weeks compared with the same period in 2019. That’s incredible when you consider that overall theft claims have fallen during the lockdown as people have stayed at home, deterring burglars.

“Unfortunately, this probably means that thieves are looking for easier targets and the rise of budding cycling enthusiasts around the country might be the opportunity they’re looking for.

“Our data shows just how more common bike theft has been during the lockdown; in the last seven weeks, 37 per cent of the theft claims we’ve received were for stolen pedal bikes, compared with just 12 per cent last year.

“We’re warning all cyclists, whether they’ve been cycling for years or have just bought their first bike, to be vigilant, keep an eye out for thieves and step up their bike security. With people being encouraged to avoid public transport where they can as lockdown restrictions ease, we could see a second surge in bike purchases, and consequently, bike thefts.”

He also urged people to check their contents insurance policies to ensure that their bike is included, explaining that cover us automatic under Admiral’s policies so long as the value is below £350, but any bike exceeding that would need to be specifically added to the policy.

> Cycle insurance: Is your bike fully covered?

Meanwhile, specialist cyclist insurance provider, Cycleplan, says that it has seen growth of 63 per cent in online enquiries for cycling cover since the start of lockdown, and that searches for ‘cycling insurance’ have risen by 51 per cent compared to 2019.

The insurer says that a survey it recently commissioned found that 8 in 10 people had switched from cars and public transport to cycling or walking for essential short journeys since late March.

It also says that concerns regarding being injured while cycling as well as potential theft of or damage to the bike were also factors behind growth of interest in cover.

The company’s founder and managing director, John Woosey, said: “The benefits of cycling for our health (and that of the environment) are numerous.

“However, millions of people across the UK are now being “actively encouraged” to cycle more. This comes with an element of risk - especially amongst those who may not have cycled regularly, or on busy roads, ever before.

“It’s therefore encouraging to see such an uplift in the amount of people searching for cycling insurance. Specialist policies not only offer cover against issues like injury, damage, loss and theft, but also help to provide much-needed financial peace of mind during this time.”

> Cycle-specific insurance — Your questions answered

Another specialist provider of cycling insurance, Bikmo, meanwhile, has secured £1.8 million in Series A funding from the Development Bank of Wales and the insurance group Hiscox, as well as existing and new angel investors.

The company, which has offices in Chester and Innsbruck, says that the cash will assist it as it grows globally, including in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany and Austria.

Its CEO, David George, said: “We are here to support people’s active lifestyles, and we want riders to know that we can cover them, plus their bike and equipment, whether on road or trail.

“This investment will enable us to grow and support the recreational riders as we always have, plus the new riders we can all see rediscovering the freedom and utility of riding a bike in the fresh air.

“We are all riders at Bikmo so we understand that cyclists need to know that they are protected if something happens, and we see that the vast majority of home insurance policies aren’t adequate,” he added.

“Cycling is more important than ever for our physical and mental health, and as a practical mode of transport for us all to remain safe and socially distanced.”

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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psychle | 4 years ago
1 like

This article ought to include advice on how to avoid buying a stolen bike; there are plenty of red flags.  A naive purchaser could be left out of pocket if the bike is later proved to be stolen and a canny buyer is just encouraging theft.  

OldRidgeback | 4 years ago

We have 'secure' bike facilities where I live. These are placed at the side of the road, where cars would normally be parked. They're a good idea and there's a waiting list now. But this morning as I came back from my early morning constitutional with the dog, I noticed one round the corner had been levered open. Clearly, someone has figured out how to open them up. The bikes left in the storage area were nothing special and one was pretty rusty, as if it'd been there unused for some time. I presume the ones that were taken were the high end models. There was a nice Brookes saddle and seat post beside the storage area that had been left by the thief (or thieves as it looks like the storage unit had been forced on either side at once) and I presumed this had belonged to one of the bikes stolen.

crazy-legs | 4 years ago

Exactly as @Sriracha says - not much point in putting in all these cycle lanes if the one concession to actually parking the bike at your destination is a couple of Sheffield stands (or worse, a few of those "hold it by the front wheel" hoops) out the back, by the bins. Where criminals can work on them easily. CCTV is useless, all you need to do is wear a baseball cap and a hoodie or mask (cos hey, masks are cool now!)

Time for all offices, places of work etc to have proper secure bike parking - that needs to be mandated at point of planning permission. They've done it for years with car parks, they can do it for bicycles too.

Sriracha replied to crazy-legs | 4 years ago

Oh yes, the CCTV - essential to show grainy footage confirming the theft by someone with their face obscured. Its installation in the first place confirms that thefts are already anticipated in the design and location of the facility.

Sriracha | 4 years ago

Do people have to worry that their car might get stolen whilst parked at work? Along with fear of death or serious injury, and winter weather, I guess fear of having your pride&joy either stolen or damaged in the attempt is one of the factors preventing greater uptake of cycling to work.

Sniffer | 4 years ago
1 like

Demand for bikes is up.  Demand for second hand bikes is up.  Some of those second hand bikes will be stolen bikes.

Shades | 4 years ago

Guess some new cyclists are learning the hard way ref locking a bike up properly; we've all been there in the past (well I have!).

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