Reported theft up 38% as gangs target London bikes

Using two locks is a good way of deterring thieves

photo Using two strong locks on frame and wheels is the best way of deterring thieves

Bike theft in London during the first half of 2009 rose 38% compared with the same period in 2008, according to figures on the Met Police website

Particularly high rises is some wards (up to 75% according to the Evening Standard) has led to speculation that thefts in these areas are being carried out by gangs.

These latest figures contradict previous police claims that there was a 17% decrease in reported cycle theft from 2005 to 2008.

It's believed the discrepancy is caused by changes in the way the police now report data: only since July 2007 has month-by-month reported crime data been available for every area of London.

Theft is a major barrier to people cycling
LCC communications officer Mike Cavenett said, "Bike theft is cited as the most common reason for people giving up cycling. In 2008 there were over 17,000 bikes reported stolen in London.

"It must be tackled more seriously by the police. The costs to Londonders and to the city are phenomenal."

However, many bike thefts are never reported, and estimates are that the real total is three or four times as high.

The cost to cyclists could be over £20 million per year, with the added cost to the capital in reduced health benefits and increased congestion and emissions much higher.

Sharp increases in some neighbourhoods
The new area-by-area data has highlighted problems in certain areas where sharp increases are believed to indicate that gangs have moved into the neighbourhood.

In July, Wandsworth’s bike theft was double the long-term average, whereas Islington saw a longer-term rise with 50% more thefts this year than 2008.  

The worst areas for cycle theft are Westminster and Camden, with thieves targeting bikes parked during work hours and in the evening in the West End. The next worst are the Inner London boroughs with high cycle use: Hackney, Southwark, Lambeth and Islington.

Be wise: LCC can help protect your bike
Protect your bike using the information in the article on the right. This orginally appeared in the August-Septemeber issue of LCC's members' magazine the London Cyclist.