Just 1% of London bike thefts lead to formal sanction, data shows

Police data has revealed which London boroughs have been hit hardest by rising bike crime.

The five London boroughs that have seen the greatest increase in bike thefts are Sutton (32%), Hounslow (25%), Bexley (13%), Kingston Upon Thames (7%) and Havering (5%).

The data was collated by London criminal defence solicitors Lawtons in October 2022 and reveals statistics from September 2021 to September 2022. The data also revealed that in London, just 1% of all bike thefts lead to a formal sanction, including a suspect being charged or receiving a caution. This figure was the same in the 20/21 data.

The borough of Waltham Forest reported a 45% decrease this year compared to last year and Haringey experienced the second-largest drop with 34%, followed by Enfield (34%) and Lewisham (33%).

Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at London law firm Lawtons Solicitors, said: “One major contributing factor to the increase in bike theft is that it’s just so easy for criminals to get away with the offence. We are seeing from this year’s data that the boroughs that were heavily impacted by crime last year have been able to reduce the problem, which we are now seeing spread to the South West boroughs.

“Unfortunately, suspects aren’t being identified because there’s usually no relationship between themselves and the victim and it’s a relatively low-priority crime for the police to pursue. On top of this, owners often don’t document the ownership of their bike, making it difficult to prosecute even if the perpetrator is caught.

“It’s essential that you register your bike to help you recover it in the case of theft. Keep your receipt, make a record of the serial number and register your bike with a bicycle marking and registration scheme. This will enable the police to trace your bike back to you if it is stolen and recovered.”

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Chris Smith, MD at Pendle Bike Racks, said: “Hopefully you will have registered your bike with BikeRegister and placed a security mark on your bike. The mark serves as a visible deterrent because the owner of a marked bike can be traced and the odds of arrest/prosecution are significantly higher. It also makes the stolen bike much more difficult to sell. If you happen to find your freshly stolen bike on a social media marketplace, resist the urge to go vigilante! As tempting as it might be to bang down the door and take back what is rightfully yours, the police are there for a reason.

“Lock all parts of your bike (not just the frame) to a secure bike rack using a top-quality lock. We recommend looking for the ‘Sold Secure gold or diamond’ class locks. Also, make sure you check out the bike rack. Cunning thieves have been known to cut sections out of steel stands and cover the gaps with stickers – then pluck a locked bike away with consummate ease.

“If you can’t get your lock around them, remove all quick-release items from your bike and take them with you – for example your seat post, lights or your front wheel. Quick release is a great system for the rider, but unfortunately, it is great for the thief as well.”

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