Bike Theft Statistics: How Many Bicycles Are Stolen Each Year? 

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The Short Answer

Millions of bikes are stolen each year worldwide, but the exact number is difficult to determine due to underreporting. It is crucial for cyclists to take precautions like using locks and registering their bikes to prevent theft.

Bike theft is one of the most frequently occurring crimes across the globe. Police reports, insurance company data and statistics from bicycle security companies show many hundreds of thousands of incidents annually. And you have to consider thefts which aren’t reported to the authorities at all.

Whilst it’s clear that bike theft is a common and unhappy experience for millions of people across the world, there is no true, defined reporting method. Police data don’t account for unreported incidents and insurers might truly only know about claims reported to them.

A public locking-shed provides useful tips on locking and bike registration (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

There are some surveys which although small in number are wide-ranging. The facts only of the crimes reported can be found in police data, most of which in the UK is published monthly.

Bike criminals the world over know that bikes are by their nature portable and light. It’s easy to be inconspicuous when breaking locks and there are more bikes than ever to choose from. A surge bike use in a two year period from early 2020 saw a significant increase in theft incidents.

Bike Theft Statistics 

  • Just 1% of bike thefts in the UK lead to any kind of formal sanction or prosecution (BBC)
  • 26% of bikes stolen in England and Wales from annual survey did not have a lock because the person surveyed thought it was a safe area with no need to use the lock. (ONS Crime Survey)
  • 7% of bike theft victims in the USA and Canada in a 2019 research paper did not return to cycling after the incident. (529 Garage)
  • 63% of victims of bike theft in England and Wales from an annual survey to March 2020 reported that they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with the police. (ONS Crime in England and Wales)
  • 14% of incidents of bike theft in England and Wales from annual survey to March 2020 occurred in the grounds of a public place (eg. shop, supermarket, shopping centre or precinct, school, college or university, pub, bar or working mens club, place of entertainment, nightclub, sports centre, football ground). (ONS Crime Survey)
  • 20% of commuters in Great Britain cite a lack of storage facilities at the office as being a barrier to cycling to work. (Direct Line Group)
  • Bike theft reported to a leading UK insurance company increased by 66% during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. (Admiral Insurance)
  • Fewer than 1% of bikes recovered by police in the United States of America and Canada are registered, meaning fewer than 5% are returned to owners, according to a bike registration company. (529 Garage)
  • One-quarter of stolen bikes in the USA and Canada in 2019 were said to be used to commit secondary crimes. (529 Garage)
  • 49% of bikes stolen in England and Wales from an annual survey to March 2020 were locked with a chain, cable or shackle. (ONS Crime Survey)
  • There was one bike theft in 2020/21 for every 234 people who own an adult cycle in an index of 17 key conurbations in the UK from a survey conducted June to August 2021. (Sustrans)

A regular sight across cities – another lock might mean coming back to a complete bike (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

How Many Bikes Are Stolen Each Year?

  • There were more than 2 million bikes stolen in North America in 2019 according to research from a bike registration company. (529 Garage)
  • 77,465 bicycle thefts were reported in England and Wales, from an annual survey to April 2022. (Statista)  
  • 700,000 bicycles were stolen in the Netherlands over the period of a biennial survey to 2021. (Statistics Netherlands)
  • 15% of all bicycles stolen in 2021 in the Netherlands were e-bikes. (SAFE)
  • Bicycle theft cost €404m in the Netherlands in 2021. (Statistics Netherlands)
  • 19,000 bicycles were stolen in Scotland in a year, according to a survey conducted between April 2019 and March 2020. (Scottish Crime and Justice Survey)
  • 32,111 bike thefts were registered by Belgian Federal Police per year on average from 2012-2021. (Statista)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the USA shows 125,136 reports of theft of bicycles in 2019. (FBI)

Statistics for Bicycle Theft

  • 72% of bicycles stolen in England and Wales from an annual survey to March 2020 were taken between a Monday and a Friday. (ONS Crime Survey year)
  • 23% of bikes stolen in England and Wales from an annual survey to March 2020 were taken from 12 noon to 6pm. (ONS Crime Survey)
  • 77% of Britons in 2022 thought that the police would not bother to try and properly investigate bicycle theft in their area. (YouGov)
  • 6% of bikes stolen in England and Wales from an annual survey to March 2020 were done at a cost of £1,000 or more to those surveyed. (ONS Crime Survey)
  • 19,000 estimated bike thefts were carried out in Scotland from a survey conducted between April 2019 and March 2020. (Scottish Crime and Justice Survey)
  • $20,908,167 – the total recovery value of 11,875 bikes recovered by Bike Index – a bike registration company. (Bike Index)
  • 5,264 incidents of bike theft were recorded in England and Wales in November 2022, a 23% reduction from the prior month as total theft in England and Wales recorded fell by 6%. (UKCrimeStats)
  • 4% of cyclists from a survey of 1,500 who rode a bike at least once a week in the UK, Netherlands and Germany, in February 2021, use an alarm vibration sensor as a precaution. (AlterLock)

How Often Do Bikes Get Stolen?

  • A bicycle in North America was stolen every 30 seconds in 2019, according to a research paper from a leading bike registration company. (529 Garage)
  • 1 bike was stolen every 7 minutes in Europe in 2018. (Europa)
  • One bike was stolen every six minutes in a three year period to 2018, according to one of the largest mass-market insurance companies in the United Kingdom. (Direct Line Group)
  • Approximately 215 bikes were stolen per day in the UK between April and August 2020, says a report from a stats company. (UKCrimeStats)

Bike Theft Statistics by City

  • 20,286 reported cycle thefts in 2020/21 from an index of 17 key cities in the UK from a survey conducted June to August 2021. (Sustrans)
  • 1,300 bike thefts per 100,000 of population in Cambridge, UK – a bike theft hotspot – in 2021 according to leading UK bike insurer. (Bikmo)

A public cycle hub deep inside a city centre car park (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

This hub opens via a keycode entry, has showers and a changing facility (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)
  • 148/156 bicycle thefts reported to Cambridgeshire Constabulary in November 2022 and no longer under investigation are completed with no suspect identified. (Police)
  • The number of bicycle thefts reported in the state of Victoria, Australia increased by 81.2% from 2011-2020. (Bicycle Network)
  • Vancouver Police steered a 30% reduction in bike thefts in a five year period to 2019 after teaming up with a bike registration scheme. (529 Garage)

Bicycle Theft in Bike-Friendly Cities [STATS]

Bike theft per 100,000 of population in 2022 from top-10 most bike-friendly cities in the world.
Source: Luko Global Bicycle Cities Index (Image credit : Kevin Glenton)

Bike Theft Capital of the World

A visible locking hub in a visible public plaza provides multiple locking points (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

How Likely is a Bike to Get Stolen?

  • Only 9% of bike theft cases in the state of Victoria, Australia, are solved. (Bike Network)
  • 0.7% of Scottish adults experienced bicycle theft from survey conducted between April 2019 and March 2020. (Scottish Crime and Justice Survey)
  • 1.6% of Northern Irish adults who were bicycle owners between April 2019 and March 2020 were the victim of at least one bicycle theft. (Northern Ireland Community Survey)

This locking pod in a public space reduces the chance of theft but the top-tube bag is an easy target! (Image credit: Kevin Glenton)

Talking Points

Bike theft is a very frequently occurring crime all around the world. And the reported figures will be much, much lower than the actual number of bikes stolen. It seems that worldwide figures are under-estimated by the hundreds of thousands.

Therefore there is no definitive number of bikes stolen per year and no true ‘bike theft capital of the world’. What is evident from the statistics is that your are more likely to have a bike stolen if you live in an area where cycling is a popular and encouraged aspect of daily life. Bike theft crime is not exclusively linked to the crime of theft overall.

Theft of bikes in the city of Cambridge in England is more than double per 100,000 of population than Medellin in Colombia, or Mexico City. But most people would not link these cities in terms of overall crime.

There seems a reasonable argument from the Luko Global Bicycle Cities Index that the rate of bike theft per 100 people in bicycle-friendly cities is not any greater than less bicycle-friendly cities.

Bike theft puts members of the public off cycling. This is a particularly unfortunate statistic. It’s hard for some to find the motivation to take up riding a bike. Weather and safety play a role in limiting the appetite so adding worries about security to this is an unhelpful addition.

Those who travel by bikecommuting and otherwise – should brush up on some essential security tips to ensure that the chances of their ride being stolen are reduced. The evidence from the global pandemic points towards the surge in riding was matched by a spike in theft.

Police information states that bike theft crime is mainly opportunist. There are hundreds of bikes to choose from in most cities and compared to say, cars, or open windows to apartments, the risk and complication involved in stealing bikes is minimal.

Cynical as it may sound, by making your own bike more difficult to steal than the one next to it, you reduce the chance of the thief taking yours. Find an area with CCTV, or locking ports where you can lock frame and wheels to the bike. And do not assume an unlocked bike will be safe when you are in the shop and can see it.

It’s encouraging to see cities like Manchester in the UK operating bike hubs where you are more likely to see your bike after work or study than if you left it on the street. Commuters and irregular users of bikes should be given more information about these and general tips about lowering the chance of theft. It seems that many commuters who would come in on their bikes are put off by the lack of adequate storage being offered by their workplace.

Bike registration is on the rise across the world and seems relatively straightforward. Police do recover bikes, so by providing them with a serial number you will increase your chances of seeing your ride once again. It’s clear that many of us who have insurance settle for the claim payout and accept that we are not likely to see the bike again.

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