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Police Forces Warn of Anticipated Increase in Bike Theft


As optimism for the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions grows, interest in Staycations is soaring. But police forces have warned that, as restrictions are lifted, bicycle thefts are also expected to increase. During 2020, overall bicycle theft dropped by around 16.3%, due to the impact of the pandemic. But sadly, cycle theft from key workers, during these difficult times, have actually increased. As people plan their staycations and dust off their bikes for the spring and summer it’s important to take adequate precautions to avoid becoming a victim of bicycle crime.

The UK government is keen to encourage more people to cycle and walk as fewer vehicles on our roads is good for the environment and exercise is great for public health. But data indicates that if someone becomes the victim of bicycle theft they are often discouraged from buying another bicycle and may even give up cycling altogether. It has been found that around 25% of those who have suffered from bike theft give up cycling while around 66% cycle less frequently.

In response, a national cycle crime prevention campaign is being launched by a police partnership involving multiple UK police forces. Their aims include boosting the identification of stolen bikes in online marketplaces and encouraging people to improve their bicycle security, as well as targeting bicycle thieves.

Report All Bike Theft

It’s been estimated that cycle crime costs as much as £200 million every year but doesn’t get the attention it deserves because reporting rates are so low. Cyclists are encouraged to report all theft incidents as this helps ensure the police crime statistics are accurate and importantly can result in some bikes being returned to their rightful owners, although only around 5% of stolen bikes currently get handed back.

People often think the police are too busy to be bothered with their stolen bike so they simply don’t report thefts. But the police may already have their stolen bike in one of their storage facilities, waiting to be reclaimed. And the information provided about a bike theft can help police forces identify crime patterns and enable development of more effective prevention and enforcement responses.

bike seizure store
Store of Seized Stolen Bicycles

How to Secure a Bike

Although, as noted, overall bike theft crime throughout the UK has dropped during 2020 the number stolen from people’s homes has doubled, according to one prominent bicycle insurer. Bikmo have analysed reports from thousands of customers which show that thefts from cyclists’ homes accounted for 49% of all claims during 2020, up from 23% in 2019. Like the police, the insurer expects bike crime to increase in 2021 and they’ve projected a 45% increase in claims.

Bike theft data collated by Bikmo shows that the number of incidents rapidly increased between April and June 2020 and then continued to rise to reach a peak in October. Reports of bicycle theft then rapidly declined as people securely locked their bikes away for the winter.

This data highlights the essential need for cyclists to pay special attention to their bike security precautions at home - as well as when they are out and about.

Get the Right Insurance

It’s perhaps surprising to learn that only around 50% of UK cyclists have bike-specific insurance. Many riders assume that their valuable bicycles are covered by their home insurance policies which can be a false assumption.

The price and value of bicycles is constantly increasing and the addition of various accessories and upgrades can significantly raise the cost of replacement. While most home insurance policies provide some form of basic bicycle cover there is always likely to be a maximum claim value which can be as low as £500. If you have spent thousands on your bike then this would not be enough to buy a new one.

Another important point regarding home insurance policies is that most insurers require additional theft protection for bicycles, so its important to check the small print. Also, some policies don’t provide insurance cover when the bike is away from home or if it is being used by someone else. But policy additions are generally available to cover these requirements.

A further important consideration when using your home insurance policy to cover your bike is whether accidental damage is included. This is particularly important if you want to use your bike in sporting or group events as many home insurance policies would not cover damage incurred in these circumstances.

And another important aspect of bicycle insurance that is often overlooked is liability cover which ensures you are protected if you are involved in a crash with another person.

A growing number of insurers have recognised the specific needs of cyclists and have developed policies that tick all the right boxes. Cyclists want policies that cover the value of their bikes, provide theft cover away from home and they want accidental damage cover, regardless of who was at fault. They also want insurance cover for all of their cycling accessories including wheels, clothing, GPS navigation and cycling computers.

Mark and Register Your Bike

France has recently introduced a mandatory policy to register all new bicycles at the point of sale to help combat cycle crime. While this makes additional work for French retailers it’s a valuable initiative that will help deter bicycle theft.

In the UK there is no equivalent, mandatory registration scheme. But marking and registering your bike is still a recommended, valuable security tactic. When you purchase a new or second hand bicycle take note of the bicycle frame number and keep the receipt and all details of the transaction. If purchasing a bike second hand it’s always a good idea to submit the frame number to an online bike checker to see if it has been reported as stolen.

A valuable option is to register your bike with and mark it with a tamper-proof security label - and be sure to label any valuable components as well as the bicycle frame. Security labelling acts as a powerful theft deterrent and will help prove ownership if the bike is ever stolen.

Our Datatag pro marking kit provides everything needed to add security labelling to valuable cycles and parts, as well as registering to a comprehensive database. 

Record Your Bike Details

Labelling your bike and registering it are valuable precautions but it’s also important to keep a record of all your bike details. Be sure to take some photos of your bike, and if you make any modifications, update your images and keep notes of the changes you have made. Save these details along with your bike’s frame number, the registration number and the original purchase records. This will all help identify your bike and the parts of your bike if it’s ever stolen and dismantled for spares.

Use High Quality Bicycle Locks

Using high quality cycle locks is essential, both at home and when out and about. Sold Secure is a UK based organisation aimed at reducing crime by rigorously testing and assessing a wide variety of security products, for the benefit of consumers. Using bike locks which meet the stringent Sold Secure approval ratings is recommended for cyclists. For example, our Squire Eiger heavy duty D lock has achieved the Sold Secure Gold standard for bicycles.

squire eiger bicycle d lock
Squire Eiger Sold Secure Gold Bicyle Lock

When using D locks it is recommended that two are used, for added security. Each should be looped around the bike frame, one of the wheels and locked to an immovable anchor point. Use one for the front wheel and one for the rear.

A padlock and chain set is a possible alternative, such as our Sold Secure Gold Carry Chain Set. This set features a Sold Secure Gold rated 10mm chain along with either a CEN4 rated, high security keyed Squire padlock or a combination padlock that’s achieved a Squire security assessment of grade 8.

Attach to Immovable Anchor Points

Many cyclists fail to adequately secure their valuable bicycles when at home, which is reflected in the huge surge in bike thefts from homes in 2020. People think that simply hiding their bikes in their sheds, garages or maybe inside bike storage containers, is enough. Thieves know this is where vulnerability exists and if they can get inside the garage or shed they will often find valuable bikes (and other equipment) that can be quickly and easily pinched.

The answer is to always securely attach bicycles to immovable anchor points inside wherever the bikes are stored. Ground anchors and wall anchors are what’s needed to provide locking points to which bikes should be securely attached when at home. If it’s not possible to install immovable ground or wall anchors then a shed shackle, which is mounted on the strongest part of a shed’s structure, is a viable alternative.

Park and Store Your Bike Securely

Secure bike storage plays an important part in deterring and preventing crime, both at home and in the workplace. Locking bikes to immovable anchors inside wherever they are stored is part of the solution but another important tactic is keeping intruders from gaining access to the storage location, be it a shed or a garage.

Shed locking bars are an easily installed security enhancement for shed doors. These bars are fitted completely across the shed door, securely attached to the door frame or shed structure, making it impossible for the door to be opened without causing significant damage.

long shed bar on shed door
Shed Door Bar Adds Security

Another access path used by thieves is via the windows in sheds and garages. Window security can be bolstered using window security bars which provide another easily installed security enhancement for outbuildings.

And another valuable security improvement for garage doors is our Garage Door Defender which has achieved Sold Secure bronze rating. This easy-to-use device is simple to fit and prevents a garage door from being opened.

Enhance Property Security

Paying close attention to all aspects of property security is a key element in securing valuable bicycles, both at home and in the workplace. Alarms, lighting and CCTV will all serve to deter would be bicycle thieves. And it should be ensured that there are no secluded areas where thieves can go about their nefarious business without being seen.

Remember that if you have any questions regarding how to improve your security - we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll give you some free, expert advice.

This message was added on Wednesday 3rd March 2021


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