'Project Cycle Ops – a London-wide project between Transport for London (TfL) and the police – has resulted in an 11 per cent fall in bike theft, with over 2,000 fewer offences.
The collaboration – between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police and the City of London Police – started in October 2012.
The number of bike thefts in London from October 2012 to the end of August 2013 was 19,052, compared with 21,488 in 2012 and 20,411 in 2011 over the same time period. Against a three-year average (used to flatten out fluctuations caused by spells of extreme weather) bike theft is down by 10.3 per cent.
"Many people who have their bikes stolen simply give up cycling, so cracking down on this crime is essential for the Mayor's ambition to double the number of cyclists," said Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner.
"In the months ahead, you will see more initiatives from us to pile further pressure on the thieves and shrink the market in stolen bikes."
Tackling bike crime
A variety of activities have been employed in Project Cycle Ops, including bike marking and registration events, educating cyclists, high-visibility policing patrols to discourage thieves, surveillance, and special undercover policing tactics. Five thieves have been given ASBOs to prevent them from having a bike they can not prove they legitimately own.
During Project Cycle Ops police have security marked and registered over 40,000 bikes on BikeRegister.com, which helps to deter thieves and reunite people with their bikes if they are lost or stolen. However, they still have over 2,000 unclaimed bikes held in London police stations and have a photo gallery site in an attempt to get bikes back to their owners.
TfL and the police joined forces with BikeRegister on a marketing campaign to encourage people to get their bikes security marked and registered, and insist on proof of ownership and bike registration numbers before making a purchase.
In addition, they worked with Gumtree to help get this message out to the public; as a result, cycle security pop-up messages are now seen on the site by anyone looking to buy a bike, along with updated guidance and a dedicated cycle security blog. Police have also worked behind the scenes with the site to catch the bike thieves in the act as they attempted to sell bikes and bike parts online - cutting off one of their marketplaces and making it much more difficult for criminals to make money from this kind of crime.
Siwan Hayward, Head of Transport Policing, said: “Project Cycle Ops has proven to be a fabulous success. With increasing numbers of people taking to two wheels this 10 per cent reduction in crime is a great effort by all agencies involved and has shown our commitment to bike owners across the capital.”
“We care about every journey cyclists make, and are absolutely committed to keeping both them and their bikes safe and secure.”
Superintendent Rob Revill, Safer Transport Command said: “It is great to see that by working together our efforts have resulted in over 2000 less people having their bike stolen in the capital. However, it is sad to see thousands of bikes lying in our police stations unclaimed as we cannot identify owners. So, we are urging Londoners to help us by taking a few minutes to lock bikes securely, security mark and register bike details online and report any theft to police so together we can Lock Thieves Out!”
Inspector David Aspinall, of City of London Police Safer Transport Operations Team, said: “Thieves do operate in the City and will target bikes that have not been properly secured. The force regularly hold free bike marking events at various locations in the Square Mile. If you would like to attend one of these please check our website or follow us on twitter for updates. We also have helpful cycle security videos on our YouTube channel which demonstrate the best way to secure your bike.”
Superintendent Jason Bunyard, British Transport Police lead for cycle theft, said: “Project Cycle Ops has helped to substantially reduce cycle crime across the capital and has also played a part in the success of our national cycle theft campaign, called Operation Wiggins.”
“We will continue to make London’s transport network a difficult place for thieves to operate. Our officers will continue to carry out patrols and remind passengers of the importance of locking up their cycles securely.”