Specialist cycling insurer Bikmo has unveiled new data from the Police which shows reported bike thefts as significantly down from 2020 to 2021. This comes as they update their innovative bike theft tracking map for public use. Available to all for free, riders across the country can now view reported thefts for 2021 on an interactive heatmap – enabling riders to identify and avoid hotspots.
This drop in reported theft is part of an emerging pattern, with rates decreasing year-on-year for the past 5 years. A number of factors may be responsible for this latest drop, including changing habits due the pandemic with less people commuting into towns and cities. It could also be that many people don’t believe the Police will actually investigate and so attempt to retrieve their stolen bike using social media instead.
Bikmo’s own data from their Open Project for 2021 saw a rise in the number of claims being made for bikes at home. These made up for just 10% in 2019, 18% in 2020 and now sit at a quarter of claims for 2021.
Super diverse London has once again come out on top as the worst region in England and Wales for bike theft, with an average of 390 thefts based on the rate per 100,000 people. In 2021, a total of 21,521 bikes were stolen in London (down fairly dramatically from 24,350 in 2020) – with Hackney making up almost 10% of those (1,621 bikes).
Although Tower Hamlets had the highest number of overall bike thefts, the City of London is the worst according to rate per 100,000 with 3,986. This is due to the fact that the area has a small population of residents, but a high number of people who travel into the area for work, often using more expensive bicycles, therefore being targeted by semi-pro thieves and their spotters. Despite having the highest rate per 100,000 people of bike thefts in 2021, the City of London only ranks 24th in London according to the actual number of bikes stolen. Interestingly, the bike theft rate per 100,000 for the City of London has consistently been over double the next worst location.
In 2021 the worst location for bike theft in terms of raw numbers was Tower Hamlets, with 1,784 bike thefts, closely followed by Hackney with 1,621 and Cambridge with 1,565.
Across England and Wales there were a total of 67,116 reported bike thefts, down from 74,573 in 2020. This comes despite high profile spates of bike theft, including the specific targeting of Brompton bikes in April of this year.
The second worst region for bike theft in 2021 was the East of England with a rate of 138 bike thefts per 100,000 people. This is in part due to the region being home to the city of Cambridge, which saw a total of 1565 thefts, down slightly from 1897 in 2020. The East of England was also the second worst region last year.
The safest region when it comes to bike theft, according to the publicly available police data, was the North West – with a rate of just 52 per 100,000 people. Although this is likely due to an ongoing problem with reporting in the region, after Greater Manchester were previously found to have failed to report 80,000 crimes.
Within the data from the police, there are some missing values for certain areas and some amounts which appear to be outliers. There are a number of examples of this, implying that perhaps in some areas bike theft is not being taken seriously enough.
One of the key barriers to increased uptake of cycling is concerns around having a bike stolen. If we are to reach the Government’s ambitious target of half of all journeys in towns and cities being walked or cycled by 2030, it is clear that more action is needed to combat bike theft.
David George, CEO of Bikmo said:
‘’In our mission at Bikmo to protect the world’s cyclists, we’re focussed on being proactive – not only putting riders back on a bike when their is stolen but educating our customers and community about the risks in their area and what they can do to reduce them so they can continue enjoy their ride.
‘’The Bike Theft Map is a key part of that mission and after seeing how popular the 2021 map was with customers, riders across the UK, and the Police Force alike, I’m proud that we’re continuing to invest in a great tool to support riders across the UK.”
Mark Cleland, UK Cycle Crime Lead for British Transport Police said:
‘’It is promising to see cycle crime reducing despite the huge uptake in bike sales over the last 2 years. With the launch of the national double lock it campaign to encourage bicycle owners to secure and register their bikes both at home and away and more cycle crime reduction partnerships being implemented in towns and cities across the UK to tackle crime, it is all contributing towards supporting our cycling communities.
‘’Of course there are still cycle crime hotspots that we’re focussing our attention on and we are working with organisations such as Gumtree and the Bicycle Association to disrupt organised crime.’’
Stephen Holt, Bicycle Association said:
‘’It’s good to see a reduction in reported bike thefts, but it remains a significant issue for cyclists and bike retailers alike. As an industry we are working with our members and UK Police to identify ways to help tackle the problem.’’