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According to the British Crime Survey an estimated 480,000 bikes were stolen in England and Wales during the period 2009/10. Of these less than a quarter were reported stolen to the police, mainly because the losers didn’t think that the police would arrest the offender or recover the bike. A total of 23,748 bikes were reported stolen to the police in London in 2009-10. This was an increase of nearly 28% on the previous year, so the problem is a growing one.
The police do actually recover many thousands of bikes each year, but because very few of them are security marked or registered with an online database very few are returned to the owners. The police usually keep them for 6 weeks, and if not claimed by the owners, they are auctioned with the money raised going to various charities.
Of course, having your bike stolen is not just about the material loss of the bike, it’s the inconvenience and added costs associated with it; the long wait in the police station or on the phone to report the matter, the search for the insurance papers (if it was insured), the frustration attached to why that £60 ‘D’ lock was so easily forced and so on. Not only that, but bike theft is one of the most often stated reasons for giving up cycling, second only to road safety. Cycling is, of course, a healthy activity and also reduces car use, which in turn benefits our planet.
It is clear then that we should do all we can to minimise our own chances of becoming a victim of bike theft, but at the same time demand better public facilities so that we can better secure our bikes when we’re out and about.
Some of the following information has been sourced from ‘ Bikeoff ’, an initiative of the Design Against Crime Research Centre located at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (Part of the University of the Arts London).
Bikeoff is concerned with reducing bicycle theft through practice based design research aimed at catalysing, and in some cases creating, cycling products and services that consider users (cyclists) but also abusers (vandals and thieves).
Bikeoff can be contacted at:
Design Against Crime Research Centre, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design,Granary Building,1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA
Telephone: 020 7514 7366
Email enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The basic Dos and Don'ts
- Do record a description of your bike. Include the make and model, the frame number and a photograph and note any distinguishing marks and their precise location
- Do mark your bike with a proprietary marking system and or RFID tag it and register it (See Property identification – Marking, tagging and tracking)
- Do lock it up (both wheels and frame) whenever and wherever you leave it
- Do keep purchase receipts for the bike in case you need to make an insurance claim
- Do use locks that your insurer approves of and in any event use a lock that is secured to Sold Secure standards
- Don’t leave your bike unattended unless it has been locked - not for a second!
- Don’t park it in unobservable places, even if it has been locked
- Don’t leave the bike unlocked in the back garden. Store it in a secured garage or other outbuilding and lock it up
- Don’t leave easily removable accessories on the bike when you leave it, such as lights and quick release saddles
I am exceedingly grateful to Adam Thorpe and Professor Lorraine Gamman for allowing me to use Bikeoff’s material to help create this bicycle security section
I am very grateful to Thames Valley Police’s Crime Prevention Design Adviser, Dave Stubbs MA PG Cert. Ad. Cert. CP & ED, for reading through this section and providing some interesting information that I forgot to include.