Claims for bike theft have risen by 125 per cent in the past three months, according to the latest data from insurance company Urban Jungle. The company, which provides insurance for renters and people sharing homes, saw a big surge in claims in the three months leading up to October.
The data, taken from claims made to Urban Jungle from its 20,000 customers, show that claims in London are up higher than the national average, having increased by 129%. Jimmy Williams, CEO of Urban Jungle, says the nature of the claims suggests much of the crime is pre-planned, rather than opportunistic.
A quick search of Twitter revealed that many brands such as Giant, Boardman and Specialized are being targeted, with shed break-ins being one of the most common methods used. Although we did see a post from one guy who was beaten and robbed whilst out rising his Giant bike.
“The claims we are receiving aren’t from people who have left their bike outside a pub or shop, or who forgot to lock it. They are cases where criminals have clearly turned up prepared, with bolt cutting tools, and whisked the bike away in a hurry,” says Williams.
“Some thieves are not averse to jumping into back gardens or breaking into sheds. Criminals have also worked out how to get into the council-owned bike hangers,” he adds.
“Criminals know how to spot an expensive bike and can dispose of them quickly by selling them online. They are organised, fast and efficient. Also, they know there’s a big market for bikes right now, as cycling is increasingly popular, meaning demand has outstripped supply.”
Williams says bikes can be added to most insurance policies, but can be easily missed. Most insurers will cover for theft, he notes, “but make sure you include `Out Of Home cover’ on your policy,” he advises.
Urban Jungle has also created a simple guide:
Five ways to reduce the risk to your bike
Join Bike Register
The UK’s national, police approved registration scheme is free to join and has close to one millions registrations. You’ll receive a free sticker to add to your bike to deter thieves. If your bike is stolen, you can report it online and share details via social media.
Always lock your bike if leaving it unattended and buy a decent lock, too. It’s best to keep bikes indoors, especially if they are expensive, but if they are out in the open, make sure both the wheels and the frame are secured to a permanent structure. Also, try to match the value of your locks to the bike; thieves are great at spotting a cheap lock on an expensive bike.
Your bike is far less likely to be stolen if you lock it somewhere well lit and busy, or with CCTV surveillance. Also, avoid leaving it outside overnight. If that’s unavoidable then get a cheaper bike.
Remove any lights, bags or other easily removed attachments, as thieves can sell them. Designer saddles and front wheels are also prime targets, especially if they are high quality.
If you’re taking all the precautions, try not to worry about it too much. There’s never been a better time to get out and explore your area by bike.
Another solution for expensive bikes is a GPS tracker, and we think that ones hidden in the handlebars, or disguised as a rear light, are the best methods. For something like a £1000-£3000 racing bike, it’s worth investing in a tracker, as the stats surrounding car thefts show the recovery rate with tracker services is high. We learned more good stuff at Cycling Weekly on trackers by the way.