Bike Theft - The Big Picture

Cycle Theft – The Big Picture


We have focused on cycle security in this newsletter as being able to securely park your bike and know that it’s still going to be there when you come back is an important factor in encouraging people to cycle.

Worrying whether your bike will still be there when you get back nevertheless remains a concern to many, whilst for some people the fear of having your bike stolen is enough to put them off cycling completely. 

In the most recent We Are CyclingUK magazine, there’s an excellent article about a cycle owner reporting a cycle thief to the Police, watching the thief being arrested and then appearing in court to give evidence.

However, data would suggest that such instances of a cycle thief being identified, arrested and then charged are unfortunately very rare.

The sad truth is that most stolen bikes are never recovered, and cycle thieves are unlikely to be caught or charged.

Home Office data shows that of the 78,619 bike thefts reported to the Police for the year to September 2022, no suspect was identified in 83% of cases, whilst only 1.3% cases resulted in someone being charged.

This is actually likely to be an under-estimate of the actual number of bikes stolen as these figures don’t include those cases not reported to the Police.

Ministry of Justice figures for the five years to June 2022 indicate that out of approximately 350,000 reported bike theft cases, just 159 people were charged with bike theft.    

Dealing with bike theft is both time consuming and difficult, so with limited resources and other priorities, solving bike crime is not going to be a top priority for the Police.

Therefore, the more that we can do to secure our bikes the better.

Using a robust cycle lock, or two, helps minimise the risk of your bike being stolen. Most cycle shops should be able to advise on cycle locks. 

Use your bike lock in the most effective way to secure your bike.

Lock your bike to a secure fixture, ideally a cycle parking stand. We will be looking at public cycle parking across Reading in a future article. Not all cycle parking stands are the same or secure! 

Consider having your bike security marked as one of the issues is identifying individual bikes. Security markings help the Police return a stolen bike to the rightful owner and bring prosecutions.

There is also the suggestion that marked bikes are less likely to be stolen as thieves know that they are less likely to get away with a bike that has clearly been stolen.

Only 5-10% of bikes in the UK are registered with a secure marking scheme such as BikeRegister, who claim that a marked bike is 83% less likely to be stolen than an unmarked bike.

Finally, if all else fails and you do unfortunately have your bike stolen, hopefully your bike will be covered by insurance. 

Many people will be able to add their bike to an existing household insurance policy, but it pays to closely look at the small print of what is and what isn’t covered.

Separate, specific cycle insurance policies are also available, that can be much more flexible and can cover higher value bikes.  

Tony Carr

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