Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

British Cycling, Rapha and Brompton join call for more police action for cyclists being “systematically targeted by criminals” in violent bikejackings

“These attacks should not be thought of as simple ‘bike theft’; they are violent crimes which leave victims physically injured and mentally traumatised, often unable to feel safe cycling in London again”

A letter written by Regent’s Park Cyclists (RPC) and supported by British Cycling, Rapha and Brompton has called on the Metropolitan Police to take action against a series of violent bikejackings which have plagued London in recent times, arguing that these crimes are not just petty bike thefts, but have a much more “chilling effect” on the city’s cycling community.

The letter, addressed to the Commissioner of Met Police, Sir Mark Rowley, and also supported by cycle insurance providers Laka, London Cycling Campaign and Zwift, comes less than a week after victims of violent bikejackings from Regent’s Park, believed to be the work of violent gangs shipping the high-value bicycles to Russia, urged the Met to station more officers at the crime hotspot.

The RPC is an umbrella body representing over 30 cycling clubs and more than 5,000 cyclists, and the letter was signed by its chair Sean Epstein. It demanded that the Met commit its resources to investigate the hundreds of unsolved bike robberies and find the responsible criminals, and also “on-the-ground police presence” in high-traffic areas so cyclists “feel safe on London roads once again”.

> Victims call for more police at hotspot for violent bikejacking gangs targeting "list" of high-value bikes

Epstein writes that in the last few months, a series of crimes has shaken London’s cycling community, with many of RPC’s members being “systematically targeted by violent criminals while riding their bikes”.

“The pattern of crime is always the same,” he writes. “A cyclist is followed by a moped, kicked to the ground while riding at speed, and, once immobilised, threatened with further violence. These crimes appear to target the bikes, which are carried away on the back of the offending moped and presumably sold shortly afterward.”

“However, these attacks should not be thought of as simple ‘bike theft’; they are violent crimes which leave victims physically injured and mentally traumatised, often unable to feel safe cycling in London again.”

Based on an FOI request to the Metropolitan Police by RPC, in the the calendar year of 2023, the police force was aware of 768 incidents in which a ‘pedal cycle’ was stolen using violence or threat of violence, turning out to be 15 bikejackings every week, or two each day.

When RPC polled its members, out of the 1400 respondents, 96 per cent reported being aware of a recent surge in violent robberies, 91 per cent said that they felt less safe as a result, and 59 per cent said they had reduced their cycling as a direct result of these attacks.

The letter continued: “Over the last decade, the Mayor’s office, working with the Met, have encouraged and promoted active travel as a safe way of travelling around our city. We have seen the fruits of these efforts in our community: increased participation across a diverse range of demographics. We are now deeply concerned that these crimes - and the lack of visible police response - are leading to widespread community fear and a significant setback in cycling participation.

“We are writing to ask for your help on two fronts: firstly, a commitment of Metropolitan Police intelligence resources to investigate the hundreds of recently-committed unsolved crimes, looking for patterns and chasing leads to find the criminal groups responsible. Secondly, we are asking for visible on-the-ground police presence in high-traffic cycling areas to help cyclists feel safe on London roads once again.”

> Cycling UK hails "clever" policing after bait bicycle used to track down £130,000 bike theft gang in one shift

Last week, cyclists who use the quiet, and at some times traffic-free roads of Regent's Park, recalled even more incidents of violent attacks by criminals targeting high-value bicycles in the surrounding area.

Speaking to The Times, a 49-year-old man who was riding a £15,000 Pinarello Dogma on his way to the park at around 5 am in mid-December explained how he was approached “when two guys idled up to me on a motorbike and one said to the other, “‘It’s on the list’.”

Scott said he felt “targeted” as he had no trouble when riding his other bike, worth £1,000, and is in Facebook groups where other bikejackings have been reported. “It's normally the same three brands: Pinarello, Bianchi and S-Works,” he suggested.

Stolen bikes lying on top of each other

Stolen bikes (City of London Police)

One week before that, it was reported that City of London Police had successfully managed to track down a bike theft gang in a single shift using a “relatively high-value bike” as bait.

The thieves were found with a huge collection of stolen bicycles totalling £130,000 in value, with the haul believed to be the biggest of its kind in the force’s history.

Cycling UK hailed the result, urging more police forces to consider the “substantial results” that can be yielded from “sensible, clever policing” to tackle bike theft, without needing “massive intelligence or money”.

> Warning that bike theft has been "decriminalised" as stats show 89% of reported cases unsolved

Previously, there have been concerns that bike theft has been “effectively decriminalised”, with Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney accusing the Conservative Government after data uncovered by the Liberal Democrats showed that almost 90 per cent of cases were closed by the police with no suspect identified, while a thief gets charged in just 1.7 per cent of incidents.

Last month, Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael called these figures “shocking” and cause for cyclists to be left “wondering if bike theft has been decriminalised”.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

Add new comment

5 comments

Avatar
EM69 | 4 months ago
0 likes

With the list of crime rife in London ATM this will be clinging to the underside.

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
0 likes

Sorry, bit pedantic I know but that picture isn't "Police and cyclists in Regent's Park", it's police and cyclists outside the Earl of Camden which is on Parkway, quite near the park but definitely not in it.

Avatar
Rome73 | 4 months ago
6 likes

2 a day (on average) that is a lot. I wouldn't be surprised if it was also underreported . I know of a colleague who had his bike jacked on the canal recently. He didn't report it - the bike was worth 100 quid at the most. He got a nasty bruise on his eye and side of the face though where he was punched to the ground. That it what is worrying - the violence these muggers use. 

Avatar
mctrials23 replied to Rome73 | 4 months ago
1 like

When the chances of being caught are slim to none the criminals have no qualms about being violent. Its depressing how every aspect of society is currently in decline while we pay record levels of relative taxes. 

Something has to change. 

Avatar
momove | 4 months ago
8 likes

The link to the article a week ago where police tracked down a bike theft gang should be clear its the City of London police, not the Met.

Also, you can imagine the response if there were two violent carjackings a day in London...

Latest Comments