A shocking 500,000 bikes – worth over £113 million – were stolen in the UK last year, equating to one every 65 seconds.
Those figures could be the tip of the iceberg too, with the under-reporting of thefts to the police skewing statistics by up to five times.
That's according to Bike Revolution – a new free online bicycle registration system which uses mobile phones to scan and report stolen bicycles. Bikes can be tagged with Bike Revolution's anti-theft tag, which can be read by anyone with a smart phone and checked for its status.
If the bike is stolen, then alerts are sent via Twitter and Facebook, spreading the word to bike shops, clubs, school security offices and the police.
Bike Revolution is aiming to eventually register every bike in the UK and aims to have 50 per cent registered by 2012, and then 90 per cent by 2015.
The not-for-profit system follows similar schemes in America and Norway which have cut bike theft by up to 50 per cent. In 2008 700,000 bikes were stolen in the Netherlands, sparking a move by the Government to introduce a country-wide bike registration intitiative on all new bikes with an anti-theft tag.
Bike Revolution's registration service is free, but Pulse ID tags – purchased at www.bikerevolution.org – cost £7.85 per tag, an introductory price.
Cycleguard's James Pickering said: “The boom in cycling has created rich pickings for bike thieves, with a fair proportion of stolen bikes ending up on the second-hand market. If you purchase stolen items they never actually belong to you, and can be seized at any time, either by the police or by the rightful owner.”
Mike Cavenett of the LCC said: "Bike theft is cited as the most common reason for people giving up cycling. In 2008 there were over 17,000 bikes reported stolen in London.
"It must be tackled more seriously by the police. The costs to Londoners and to the city are phenomenal. However, many bike thefts are never reported, and estimates are that the real total is three or four times higher.”