Over two-thirds (67%) of stolen bikes are sold on within just a few hours of them being taken, according to a new study by Cycleplan.
The bike insurance company worked with the charity Unlock to survey people convicted of bike theft about how bikes are stolen and which deterrents are most effective.
More than three quarters (78%) of those surveyed admitted to stealing a bike to order. CCTV was the biggest deterrent against theft, with 44% of respondents saying it put them off stealing a bike. This was followed by the use of multiple locks.
More than half (54%) of all bike thefts were from the home, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.
John Woosey, managing director of Cycleplan, said: “The results of our survey highlight the need for bike owners to be vigilant and take the necessary precautions to protect their bikes at all times.
“If they’re out and about, bike owners must always lock their bike when it’s out of sight. Under the terms of our insurance, they must use either a Sold Secure rated lock or Thatcham approved lock.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of buying the best lock and following the insurance guidelines on how and where to lock your bike. Otherwise, insurers will be unlikely to approve your claim if your bike is stolen.”
So, why do people steal bikes? Cycleplan spoke to former bike thief Tom* to get his perspective. Tom used to spend his weekends breaking into properties to steal bikes, among other items.
He said: “I used to steal with the sole intention of making money to buy drugs. There wasn’t a lot that would put me off. Normally, once you had stolen the bike, you rang a contact who’d come and pick it up.
“I usually sold it in-person to a friend, but sometimes I’d sell it on Gumtree or eBay. Bikes are normally stripped down and rebuilt or sprayed within a few hours. I’d expect that even if you walked past your own bike, you wouldn’t recognise it.
“If it was a really nice bike with a great bike lock, I’d just come back later with an angle grinder. The problem is, if someone really wants to steal something, they’ll find a way. If you’re insured then great, you’re sorted. If you’re not, then that’s that.”
An incredible 317,000 bikes are stolen every year in the UK, according to data from national cycle BikeRegister.
James Brown, managing director of BikeRegister, said: “Cycleplan’s figures show that the majority of bike crime these days is organised, with criminals treating it as a business.
“The people that commit these crimes are usually into other types of criminality too such as handling stolen property, burglaries, drugs and anti-social behaviour. These are volume crimes that don’t just impact on one person, but countless people and contributes to fear of crime in our society.
“We know that CCTV is a deterrent to bike thieves, but it’s not the one and only answer to the problem. Registering on BikeRegister is free and means you could be reunited with your bike in the event of it being stolen and recovered.
“Ultimately, it’s been far too easy for bike thieves for too long and we need retailers to help by introducing Point of Sale bike marking to protect bike owners from the outset and make stealing bikes to order a much more unattractive prospect.”
In light of these statistics, Cycleplan has put together some tips on how to safely store your bike, depending on where it is:
– If your bike is stored in a garage, lock it to an immovable object within the garage, shed or container, such as a ground anchor
– If you live in a flat, your bike must be locked to an immovable object such as a bike rack
– If you’re out, the lock you use must be secured through your bike frame and any quick-release wheels – avoid securing the bike through the wheel
For more tips, check out Cycleplan’s Lock It or Lose It campaign.
*Name has been changed