A Lowdown On UK Bike Security Trends
Bike theft is becoming an increasingly major concern in the UK. So much so, that UK Police are set to roll out a national programme dedicated to reducing cycle crime later this year. In the words of Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s Senior Campaigns and Communications Officer: “Cycle theft isn’t a victimless crime. but sometimes it feels like nothing is being done about it. Even if the police can’t do anything about it, at least they know the scale of the problem.”
In fact, half of all bike owners will experience bike theft, with the majority being stolen from their home. Whilst this is a risk most cyclists are well aware of (or have sadly experienced), research has shown that 24% of people who have their bike stolen stop cycling.
How likely are you to have your bike stolen?
Where you live plays a huge part in the likelihood of falling victim to theft, with the UK’s major cities being hotspots for theft. And if you live in the capital, East London is a hotspot of bike crime.
Secondly, the brand you choose can make your bike more appealing to thieves, with Specialised, Trek and Carrera at the top of the list. The colour of your bike can also increase the likelihood of theft, with black bikes being the most popular target and green the least.
Despite nearly 30% of cyclists scouring sites like Gumtree and eBay, as well as sharing across social media, only 10% of stolen bikes are recovered. This is despite the fact that 87% of bike owners report the theft to the police.
So, how can you protect your bike?
Bike locks have come a long way in the past few years. Moving away from the motorbike-style shackles design, there are many bike locks that are lightweight, portable and, most importantly, powerful.
A tough bike lock can make a thief’s job significantly more difficult, and more importantly, act as a deterrent. Bike Register recommends purchasing two (ideally sold-secure) locks. They’ve also published a list of recommendations.
At this point, we should clarify that we only cover bikes which are locked using either a Sold Secure rated or Thatcham approved lock. For more information on this, check out our video on how and where to lock your bike.
While 92% of cyclists use a bike lock, only 39% have insured their bike, which is why getting specialist cycling insurance is essential.
Passionate cyclists know that a bike can be one of their most expensive purchases and it’s worth taking the time to protect it. Insurance can protect your bike from both theft and vandalism, and ensure that you’re back on the road as quickly as possible.
Marking your bike with a unique code ensures police will be able to trace it back to you if it is stolen and recovered.
Bikeregister.com is the UK’s leading online bicycle registration initiative, which is aimed at reducing bicycle theft and is used by every police force.
To reduce the chances of becoming a victim of cycle theft, you can purchase one of their Security Marking Kits. Adding a security mark to your bike can also be a huge deterrent for thieves.
Guide To Protecting Your Bike Against Bike Theft
Bike theft is, unfortunately, all too common. According to crime data, there are over 376,000 reported incidents of bike theft in the UK each year. What’s more, it’s likely to be even higher than that with stolen-bikes.co.uk estimating that only 29% people report their bike as stolen to the police.
Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the risk of your bike getting stolen, so we’ve created a handy guide covering everything from locks to social media.
Lock it up
Your bike lock is the single most important tool against thieves and what’s more, many insurers won’t insure your bike unless you’re using an approved lock. But with so many on the market, which one should you choose?
It can be tempting to buy a cheap lock because bike locks can be expensive. However, this is a false economy as you’ll lose even more money down the line if your bike’s stolen.
- Don’t just rely on flimsy cable locks – a thief can clip through them in seconds with a pair of shears or even rip them apart.
- Buy two locks and secure the bike to an immovable object. When you lock the bike, make sure you do it lower down the frame.
- Make sure the locks go through the bike frame as well as both wheels and the post you are securing it to. Otherwise, a thief may steal the bike and leave the wheels behind.
- Use two different locks – ideally by different brands. This means the thieves would need two different types of tools and are unlikely to be carrying both.
- Get a D-lock with a cable and one with a sturdy, meaty chain.
We also recommend pairing the value of your bike with the standard of the lock:
Where to park your bike
If you use your bike for commuting and your place of work doesn’t have a secure bike area, don’t lock it up in the same place every day. Thieves take note of people’s habits and are more likely to target you if you’re securing your bike in the same bike park or railings day after day.
Many people don’t want their bike parked on the street, but there might be other options such as a secure bike park. Plenty of railway stations have securely covered bike sheds, which also means your bike is also protected from the elements while not in use.
Bike parking facilities vary from place to place so be sure to check with your council, bike shop, local train station or local cycling club to find out where your nearest secure bike park is. If this isn’t an option, then take some advice from Stolen Ride’s founder Richard Cantle:
“If you’re parking your bike in a high-risk London spot every day, consider having a separate cheaper bike for Monday to Friday. Keep your pride and joy at home for your weekend adventures.”
More than half of all bike thefts in the UK occur in and around the victim’s home, most often stolen from gardens or passageways between houses and outbuildings. To help minimise the risk of your bike being stolen from under your nose, here are some handy tips to secure it while at home:
- Lock the bike in a shed, garage or basement.
- Even when it’s locked in one of the above areas, secure it to something immovable using a Sold Secure approved lock.
- If you don’t have outside space to park your bike, you can buy a bike stand to secure your bike flat against a wall inside. There are also pulley systems that enable you to secure it to the ceiling or high up on a wall. Why not make your bike an interior centrepiece?
Register your bike
Register your bike on Bike Register, The National Cycle Database. By registering and marking your bike, it makes it a less attractive target for thieves. Plus, if it is stolen and then recovered by police, your bike can be easily returned to you.
It’s free to register your bike, and your details are held on a secure online database, which all police forces in the UK can access. All you need to do is go to www.bikeregister.com, submit your details, mark your bike with the Bike Register security marking kit and then add a warning sticker to deter thieves.
Be wary of social media and cycling apps
It’s very tempting to post images of your bike and impressive rides on social media or cycling apps, but thieves can use this information to their advantage.
For example, if you use Strava, the app’s GPS tracks and displays your exact route on the map. If you’ve started from your home, then that helpful little red line will show anyone you share it with the precise location of your house and therefore your bike as well.
Strava does have the ability to create an exclusion zone around your home though, so make sure you use it. Also, if you have synced your Strava account with Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, any images of your ride will be geo-tagged, so avoid posting pictures such as this.
Take a photo
As long as you keep the images off social media, taking photos of your bike can prove invaluable to the police who are investigating your bike theft.
As soon as you’ve purchased your new bike, take photographs of it, making sure the serial number, make, colour, and distinguishing features are clear. This will not only help the police, but it will also make your insurance claim process a lot smoother!
Specialist Bike insurance
For peace of mind, always insure your bike. Don’t assume that your home contents insurance will cover it either. Only 5% of contents insurance policies will cover your bike while it’s outside of the home, so if you’re regularly using it, then specialist bike insurance is vital.
“Specialist insurance is easy to forget but is very important if you have a high-value bike,” says Richard Cantle. “I chose to take a risk and not insure mine, and it left me unable to afford another bike for a long time after it was stolen!”
When looking for a policy, make sure it covers you when you’re out and about, has ‘new for old’ cover will protect you if you have an accident. Also, be sure you know which bike lock your policy requires you to have!
Cycleplan’s insurance policies include ‘New for Old’ replacement of lost, damaged or stolen bikes up to three years old. Cycleplan also offers protection against personal accident and Public Liability cover if you’re out and about. Worldwide cover is also available, should you wish to combine a holiday with your favourite hobby.