On average across the UK, a bicycle is stolen every 60 seconds. In the St Ives area, between two and three are stolen on average every week.
We have recently analysed reports of bicycle thefts in the St Ives and Ramsey area over the last three years and come up with some interesting results:
Where are bikes stolen from?
On which days are bikes most stolen?
At what times are bikes most stolen?
Were the bikes locked?
Bike theft facts (St Ives and Ramsey data):
- Roughly 40% of bike thefts are from people’s homes (including gardens and garden sheds)
- Bike thefts occur most at the beginning of the week
- Bike thefts occur most at night or in the evening
- In over a third of cases, bikes were not locked when they were stolen
Protecting your bike
You should always lock your bike whenever you leave it unattended, both at home and at your destination:
- Lock your bike to a cycle rack, post, or another immovable object. It’s always best to use two different types of lock – this makes it harder to steal as the thief needs different tools for each lock. Police recommend a good quality ‘D’ lock together with a robust chain and padlock
- Choose a busy, well-lit area, with lots of passers-by, rather than a quiet, dark corner. Ideally, use designated bike parking facilities or choose an area with CCTV coverage
- Lock your bike tightly so that it cannot easily be moved and make sure the two locks catch the bike frame as well as both wheels and the solid object you are locking it to.
- Take with you any items that can be removed without tools such as wheels, lights, pump, saddle etc
- Don’t leave your bike in the same place every day
Are your locks up to the job?
Use the best quality locks that you can afford, taking into account the value of the bike. It really is not sensible to use a cheap £5 lock on a bicycle worth several hundred pounds or more. You should expect to spend at least £30 or £40 on a good quality ‘D’ lock that cannot easily be sawn through or cut off with bolt-croppers. You can also obtain a lock with a built-in audible alarm for about £30.
Register your bike
If you register your bike, you stand a much better chance of getting it back if it is ever lost or stolen. You can register your bike and other property free of charge at Immobilise. It only takes a couple of minutes and all you need is your bicycle model, make and frame number.
You will find the frame number either:
- On the bottom of the frame, underneath the pedals, or
- On the frame near the handle-bars, or
- On the frame where the seat-post fits, or
- On the frame towards the back wheel
(Other bicycle registration services are also available, such as Bike Register)
Mark your bike
You should mark your postcode onto the frame of your bike in two separate locations, one of which should be hidden. The police occasionally run ‘bike days’ when they will do this for you for free – keep an eye on social media sites for notifications. Alternatively, you can do it for yourself with a stencil kit that can be bought for a few pounds. The kit comes with a warning sticker to fix to the bike frame, which is itself an excellent deterrent to potential thieves.
Ultra-violet (UV) marking kits are also available – these allow you to place marks on the frame which are invisible under normal lighting conditions and only become visible when illuminated with UV light.
There is also a device called a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag available which you attach to your bike by inserting it into the tube of the frame beneath the seat and is virtually impossible to remove. The tag contains a unique electronic identification number which can be ‘read’ by the electronic scanners used by the police. The unique number is logged on your bicycle Registration Account along with the rest of your details.
Perhaps the ultimate anti-theft device for your bike is an invisible GPS Tracker. This can be fitted inside the handle-bars of the bike and you activate it whenever you leave your bike unattended. It interacts with an app on your mobile phone and allows you to pinpoint your bike’s location to within a few metres.
Technology is constantly developing and new security, marking and tracking devices are constantly being developed. Keep an eye on the specialist bicycle magazines and web-sites for the latest innovations!
Buying second hand
Unfortunately, there is a thriving black-market in the sale of stolen bicycles. If you are looking to buy a second-hand bike, don’t be conned – look for the signs that indicate that something may be wrong:
- Do the seller and the bike go together? You should ideally meet the seller face-to-face, preferably at their house or place of work, and ask yourself whether they seem genuine.
- Do the parts match? Thieves will often damage a bike to make it easier to steal. Does the front wheel match from the back? Is the frame number missing or are there any signs it has been interfered with? Has the bike been re-sprayed? These are all indicators that something is wrong.
- Does the seller have proof of purchase? Are there any receipts, manuals, guarantees or insurance documents?
- Are there any security markings on the frame? In addition to the frame number, there may be a postcode marking or RFID security tag on the bike. If any of these are damaged, or if the information doesn’t match that of the seller, warning bells should ring in your mind.
- Be very suspicious of an unexpected bargain – it may just be too good to be true.