Where are the worst places for bicycle theft?


17.07.19 at 10:47 am

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Where are the most bicycle thefts

Bicycle theft can be much more than a nuisance for its victims. We recently ran a survey of 2000 brits to ask them about bicycle crime, and found that 50% were put off buying a bicycle at all because of the threat of theft. Over one quarter of the nation have had a bike stolen, and 53 per cent know someone who has been a victim of bike theft.

We know from our own customers that bicycle theft is a big concern for many regular cyclists, but we also know that certain places are much more likely to be targeted than others, and that changing certain behaviors can significantly reduce the risks of locking your bike up.

To try and understand the trends of bicycle theft in the UK a little better, we’ve worked with the British Transport Police and 12 months of policing data to create a heatmap of bicycle thefts in the UK (excluding Scotland), and identify what makes the hot-spots so dangerous for cyclists.

Bicycle Theft Heatmap

Click the map to load the data. There is a lot of data on the map, so do be patient if it takes a couple of seconds to load!

The heatmap displays every instance of bicycle theft with a valid GPS location reported to the police for the six months from November 2018 to April 2019 in England Wales and Northern Ireland. The raw data is available to download from data.police.uk.

Unfortunately we don’t have access to Police Scotland’s data, so the map is currently restricted to England Wales and Northern Ireland.

Where are the worst places for bicycle theft?

We took 12 months of data from April 2018 to April 2019 to discover which districts in the UK, and which specific locations, were the worst places to leave your bicycle locked up.

According to the data, the City of London and the university cities of Cambridge and Oxford are the worst in in the UK for bicycle thefts per population. The City of London stands out as an anomaly however as so few people actually live there. If you took into account the 300,000 people who commute into the city each day, it would appear much lower on the list.

The worst specific location in the country was Cambridge train station with 113 bikes stolen over the 12-month period, followed by St Albans train station car park in Hertfordshire and West Bargate high street in Southampton, where 93 were taken in each place.  

Railway stations, and in particular those used by commuters traveling into larger towns for work, seem to be particular targets for thieves. Superintendent Mark Cleland, National lead for cycle crime with the British Transport Police told Yellow Jersey: “We are currently working with our partners on a number of initiatives that will contribute to reducing cycle crime across the UK.

“Prevention is always better than cure and so it’s really important that cyclists consider how they can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cycle crime by considering using the best rated ‘secured by design’ locks, how those locks are used and where and what they are locked to.

“Understanding where cycle crime happens will also help inform cyclists as to where best to secure their property and of course making sure there is insurance in place helps if the worst happens.

“Don’t forget that by registering your bike, if it is lost or stolen, there is a greater chance of it being recovered”

The crime figures for the 12 months from April 2018 to April 2019, showed overall 104,768 thefts were reported. The Metropolitan Police alone received 21,945 accounts of bikes being stolen during the year, and the British Transport Police reported 6,395, highlighting how transport hubs are a popular spot for thieves.

The riskiest places to leave bicycles in Greater London were in and around Kingston University campus, and Victory Park, part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Other top cities for bike theft were revealed as Newport, Chichester and Warwick when you took into account the number of bicycles stolen per population.

We carried out a supporting study of 2,000 Brits which found over one quarter of the nation have had a bike stolen and 53 per cent know someone who has been a victim of bike theft. Of those, six in 10 never managed to get their bike back, and one in 10 who did, said the bicycle was in an unusable condition. The average cost of a stolen bike was found to be £327.55 and 67 per cent said the incident affected them both financially and emotionally.

Understandably over half of bicycle theft victims felt angry, annoyed and stressed and one sixth even felt targeted.

Over one third believe the crime of bike theft has increased in Britain over the past five years and therefore 37 per cent don’t feel safe locking up their bike where they live. Over half admitted the amount of theft in their area has put them off buying a bike.

As a result, 83 per cent of those polled want more to be done to tackle bike theft in their area and three in 10 said they would buy a second-hand bike over brand new due to fear of it being stolen.

One in 10 victims even saw their stolen wheels being used in the local area and a further 12 per cent found their bike for sale online. Of those witnessing bike thefts, 22 per cent said they would try and stop a thief, while 38 per cent admitted they would take a photo but not confront them. A further 55 per cent would phone the police and one in 10 would resort to social media to spread the word.

It’s a sad reality that people are put off cycling due to the levels of theft, in particular at a time where society is trying to encourage greener methods of transport – both for the environment and public health.

We hope these theft maps will allow people to look at the crime hot spots near to where they live and work and perhaps help them to plan a safer place to leave their bike.

Home insurance is often insufficient cover if your bicycle is stolen outside of the home and cyclists should consider getting specialist cover for their bicycle if they are looking to leave them locked up outside of the home to take away the worry of theft – which will likely also cover them for Public Liability.

Yellow Jersey provide three tiers of cover for cyclists. Get an instant, online Bicycle Insurance Quote.


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