With the majority of the trade now stocking mid to high-end bikes, security is more important than ever. Following complaints of theft on the BikeBiz forum, Mark Sutton asks the industry for advice...

INDUSTRY OPINIONS: Securing your premises

“WE have recently teamed up with the local police to offer security marking for customers. This will hopefully have an impact on cycle theft from within the city. We have attended a few road shows with the police and local council offering marking for free (£2.99 cost instore). It amazes me the amount of people that turn the offer down saying: ‘I’ve had three stolen, what’s the point?’
“Cycle theft is massive. As much as it generates business in terms of new sales, it also has the effect of customers spending less on their cycle replacement – not good for the IBD. Another point to note is that more and more insurance companies will insist that a policy holder’s claim will be dealt with and a cycle supplied by a mail order firm, again reducing trade
for IBDs.

“As far as theft from a store is concerned – we’ve had a couple of instances over the years of bogus customers taking a test ride out the front, then riding off in front of the staff’s eyes. We have a protocol to follow when test rides outside the shop are being done, but this isn’t always strictly followed and staff discretion is used. A single person on their own will generally be asked to leave ID.
“Security in the shop is very expensive, but we have laminated glass windows for our triple shop and visible long cable lock looping through all the bikes in the window and near the door. Grills are fitted to all the vulnerable side and office door windows. These are very unsightly but are the first line of defence. We also have an alarm system covering every area of the shop and constantly monitored by a 24-hour centre. CCTV covers the shop and doorways, with publicly visible monitors.
 “We also have seen a big problem with theft by kids. We now have a rule of one child at a time, which is a great shame. We do not want to alienate this market and tar all the kids with the same brush. It’s just so hard to tell the good from the bad these days.
“Other small things we did in the past have included leaving the handlebar stem loose and the gears out of sync in order to stop the grab and run style theft.”
Simon Osborne
CycleWorld Manager, Portsmouth

“PLENTY of options are available to cycle retailers, from lengths of alarmed wire connected to audio jacks, to contact adhesive heads, attachable to smaller products on the same cord.
“Alternatively, there are glass cabinet options. These can be rigged up with a magnet locking mechanism. Swipe cards are available so staff can open them for demonstrations and then re-activate the alarm.
“Personally, I recommend to retailers that they should spend between five to seven per cent of annual turnover on security. It’s the type of investment that pays for itself over time.
“A basic home alarm can be fine to secure a store after hours. However, there’s no point in having an alarm if there’s no-one locally to react to it. The same principal applies to staff who hear the alarm sound and do nothing.

“The other alternative that we are investigating is linking CCTV to a loop alarm system, so if an article is removed the camera is immediately directed to that position. This captures the event as proof of theft.
“Armoured glass is only 50 per cent more expensive than standard, so for retailers on a budget, this option should be considered for shop fronts.
“For bicycles the minimum security needed would be a loop alarm cable. We offer retailers a self-installation product called the PC-10 loop alarm, which is literally ‘plug and go’. As in many other industries, it is often the installation charge that costs the most, so this is a great solution for those looking to save without compromise.”
Jeremy Cottam, Security Expert at Lojer Products

“FIVE to seven per cent of annual turnover sounds fair as to what a shop should spend on security. We already have shutters and a monitored alarm in place. During the day we have bikes lined up outside the shop, which have to be secured.
“You always have to assume that thefts do take place.”
Chris King, Derek’s Cycles, Skegness

“OUR main theft prevention is our CCTV system. Yes, it’s a costly product but with digital technology now readily available it has been a sound investment. It has aided us in the prosecution of a few light-fingered folk and not only did it help us catch them, but we also have the recordings on CD-R for the police as evidence.
“When we do our shop displays we aim to have them in clear sight of as many till or sales staff as possible. This is how we deter most theft. We encourage our staff to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour so they can alert a manager.
 “In terms of night security we have a good alarm system, which is linked to our CCTV and also to the police station along with the store manager via an alarm call centre, which calls as soon as the sensors are triggered. All of our doors are caged or have shutters and all points of entry have motion and vibration sensors. Nothing is left to chance these days. The best link to our system is that any of the managers or directors can view the shop from any PC, laptop or even mobile phone now, from anywhere in the world.
 “I’m not sure on costs of the full system we use or the percentage of annual turnover but I would guess it wouldn’t be too far off that five per cent. What I would say is that if you believe you don’t have anything stolen, you will be mistaken. Bike shops are far too trusting due to the nature of the business. The last people we caught were 39 and 40 and I even saw an OAP steal a Twix last week. It really could be anyone these days, not just the stereotype hoodie.”
Dom Coates, Rutland Cycling, (multiple stores)

“ALL bikes across our stores are at least coil locked. Nowadays you have to be vigilant, so pretty much everything in store is either hard or soft tagged somehow. These tags will trigger our alarms on the thieves’ exit. On larger Cycle Surgery stores, most of which link with a Snow and Rock store, we employ a security guard to oversee
store security.
“High Street stores can be difficult to monitor, as they are often busy, especially on weekends. Shoplifters desire to make themselves invisible, so we tend to plan the stores so our staff can pro-actively approach all customers and address their needs. This tends to work as a deterrent.”
Dion Taylor, Cycle Surgery MD, multiple store

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