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UK crime statistics show a worrying rise in bicycle thefts throughout the country. As the popularity of cycling increases and the number of bike owners grows the number of reported bike thefts has also been escalating.
Crime statistics reveal that one bike is stolen around every 6 minutes in the UK. That’s 10 stolen bikes per hour adding up to around 240 stolen bikes per day. The highest rates of bike thefts take place in our cities with around 21,475 bikes stolen in London during 2017 and a staggering 58,000 bikes stolen over three years between 2015 and 2018.
So what’s the root cause of this astronomical growth in bicycle theft? It has been claimed that the issue has been fuelled, in part, by the growing popularity of cycling. More and more people are leaving their cars at home, avoiding over-crowded, unreliable public transport and choosing to cycle to work. Organised criminal gangs are taking advantage of this trend, targeting high-end mountain bikes, hybrid bicycles and road bikes - which they can easily resell for high prices.
Opportunistic thieves and organised criminal gangs are taking advantage of the fact that 44% of all cycling miles across Britain are in and around London. Combine this with the fact that London cyclists tend to ride high-end, expensive cycles and the criminal appeal is clear. High risk areas in London include the east end, where there were 3,649 thefts in 2017 along with south west and south east London.
Over the three year period up to 2018 over a quarter of a million bikes were stolen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The office of national statistics quotes 290,000 verified bike thefts across England and Wales in 2017. This resulted in insurance claims totalling in excess of £22million. But it’s worth noting that Stolen-Bikes.co.uk suggests that as many as 71% of people do not report their bike thefts to the police so the true crime statistics are likely to be far higher.
While it’s not compulsory to insure your bicycle it is highly advisable, especially if you ride a valuable bike. If you are wondering whether or not to invest in bike insurance just consider, for a moment, how you would feel if your bicycle suddenly went missing. If you have home contents insurance you may find that your policy already includes bicycles. But even if your existing insurance policy includes bicycles it’s worth verifying that the insurance cover is adequate and whether its necessary to declare the details of your bike to your insurance company.
Another aspect of your bicycle insurance cover that you should check is exactly what is covered both at home and away from home. For example, you will most likely want insurance cover for damage to your bike while it’s being ridden both at home and away, regardless of who was at fault. Make certain your insurance policy provides the cover that you need and if it doesn’t, look into extending your insurance cover.
Be aware that some insurers have financial value limits on their bicycle insurance coverage. For example some policies go up to a value of £1500, but many people are riding high end cycles which are worth far more than this. It is important to make certain you have the right level of insurance cover for your bike.
Another important consideration regarding home contents insurance is that the excess (the amount you must pay of any insurance claim) may be more than your bike is worth. For example, if your home insurance policy excess is £200 and your bike is worth £150 then you will get nothing from your insurance company if your bike is stolen. Another important consideration is that making a claim on your home insurance could bump up your insurance premiums for up to five years.
Without doubt, the best bike insurance option for those riding high-end, expensive bicycles and serious cycling enthusiasts is to get some specialist bicycle cover. For a £3000 bike you can expect to pay annual premiums of between £200 and £300. This should cover all potential theft and damage incidents along with accessories which are part of the bike, such as lights.
By far the best way to protect yourself against bicycle theft is to prevent it. Bicycle theft is both distressing and disruptive. If you rely on your bike to get to work in the morning then suddenly being without this valuable mode of transport can have a huge impact.
When considering bicycle security you need to think about two primary scenarios: at home and on the move.
The most effective security precaution for your bike at home is to bring it indoors. While this is unlikely to work for everyone, especially families who all ride bikes, it is a feasible option for those with available interior space. There are some highly creative and effective indoor, wall-mounted bicycle storage systems available today which enable you to mount your bike on a wall, out of the way and highly secure.
The next option to consider is to use a garage, shed or dedicated bicycle storage container. The key point is to hide your bike away from prying eyes so as not to tempt would-be thieves. But simply hiding your bike in a locked shed or garage isn’t really good enough. Thieves know that outhouses, sheds and garages are often packed full of valuable, resellable items making them common targets for criminals. The windows and doors on your shed or garage should be securely locked, ideally using high security window and door bars. But inside the shed or garage your bike or bikes should each be securely fastened to immovable wall or ground anchors which are attached to concrete. And when locking your cycles be certain to use high quality CEN rated padlocks which are insurance approved.
A dedicated outdoor cycle storage box is another excellent option if you don’t have a shed or garage. These containers provide both security and protection from the weather which will prolong the life of your bike and keep it looking great. But as for sheds and garages, simply putting your bike in your bike storage box isn’t really enough to keep it secure. You should make certain that the storage box locking and security system is robust and any external padlocks used are high quality and high security. And you should also lock your bike to an immovable point such as a ground or wall anchor as previously recommended.
Having looked at the various options for securing your bike at home let’s look at what you need to consider when out and about on your bike. This is where most bicycles are stolen.
The first thing to consider is getting your bike registered and marked. This is particularly important for high-end, expensive bikes. Thieves tend to target bikes that have resell values in excess of £200 so if you ride an expensive bike make certain you get it registered. A kit can be obtained from bikeregister.com. Thieves tend to avoid bikes which are clearly security tagged.
Invest in the best possible bike locks. Review the latest bike locks to find out which are currently rated as the most secure. New bike locks are constantly appearing on the market so it’s a good idea to read some reviews and find some locks that are highly reputable. You will need to use two separate locking systems to implement reasonably rigorous security. Using two, high-security bicycle locks presents a significant deterrent and barrier to any would-be thieves. When using bicycle locks always remember that you need to lock both the bicycle frame along with both wheels to an immovable bike stand or anchor.
If you have to leave your bike for any prolonged periods then make certain its in an area with CCTV coverage. Ideally, if you need to leave your bike unattended for a long period of time you should bring it indoors and out of sight to any would-be bicycle thieves.
You may also need to protect your bike against parts thieves. As many bikes are fitted with quick release mechanisms on saddles, handlebars and wheels these make it easy for thieves to strip bikes of their vital components. Options to consider include replacing all of the quick release mechanisms with pinhead systems which can’t be undone using allen keys. Another option is to remove the saddle and handlebars and take them with you.
If we consider that around 250,000 bikes are stolen in the UK each year and around 70% of thefts are not reported this suggests that as many as 850,000 bikes are likely to be going missing annually. If we allocate a conservative average value of just £200 per bike this adds up to an incredible £170million, which is only a conservative estimate of the overall value. It’s no wonder that bike theft in the UK is on the increase and bike riders need to take adequate precautions to keep their valuable bicycles as safe as possible.
This message was added on Thursday 20th June 2019
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500