This post may contain affiliate links, which help to keep Discerning Cyclist rolling. Learn more.
For cyclists, few things are more irritating than having a bike stolen. It’s a traumatic experience, whether you were around to prevent it or not. It’s even worse if you have an expensive bike or if it’s something you rely on as a sole means of transport.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that despite their many benefits, bicycles are particularly vulnerable to theft. They make easy targets for thieves, and the theft is often treated as low priority by most police forces, meaning it’s a crime which is often unsolved and goes unpunished.
One of the best ways to prevent bike theft is to understand not just how, but where bikes are stolen. In this article, we’ll discover where bike thieves most often strike and explore some preventative measures to help keep your bike in your possession.
Where are Bikes Stolen from?
It might be surprising to hear that the majority of bikes are actually stolen from homes. While you might feel like a bicycle in a home place is safe, it’s actually often an easier target, especially if it’s in your building and not in your apartment.
Bike thieves often prioritize expensive bikes, such as e-bikes, but they more frequently look for easy targets that are inadequately locked, kept in locations with low visibility, or just left outside. It’s important to take preventative measures regardless of where you lock your bike.
Here’s some stats about where bike thefts occur.
- Over 60% of bikes stolen are taken from in or around homes (in apartments, apartment buildings, houses etc). (NimbleFins)
- Around 6% are stolen from inside a workplace, and another 6% are taken from a street connected to a workplace. (ONS)
- Nearly 10% are taken from the grounds of a public space (parks etc). (ONS)
- Around 15% of bikes stolen are taken from the street. (ONS)
- It’s more likely to have a bike taken from an apartment than a house. (ONS)
- It’s more likely to have a bike taken in an urban area than in a rural one. (ONS)
- Low income households statistically are more likely to have a bike stolen than a high income household. (ONS)
Where in the UK are bikes stolen from?
In the UK, whilse there are over 77,000 bikes stolen annually (and more that are unreported), there are definitely some hotspots when it comes to bike theft. There’s a noticeable trend that those living in cities are more susceptible to bike theft.
- London, Thames Valley, Greater Manchester are considered some of the worst for bike theft. (CompareTheMarket)
- The area around the Kingston University Campus is considered to be one of the most at risk in the whole country. (Pedalsure)
- Cumbria, Warwickshire and Durham are considered to be the least at risk. (CompareTheMarket)
Are Some Areas in the City Worse for Bike Theft?
Within these cities, universities are regarded as hotspots when it comes to bike theft. Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol, cities known for their affinity with bicycles, all rank poorly when it comes to bikes being stolen.
- Educational buildings are the second most common places for bike theft within the biggest university towns. (CyclingUK)
- Cambridge records a bike theft for every 22 students. (CyclingUK)
- Only 0.15% of cases resulted in a suspect being charged or cautioned. (CyclingUK)
If you’re a student, here’s some particular tips on how to avoid bike theft on campus:
- Safety in numbers: Lock your bike in a location where others are locked.
- Use a cheaper bike: Don’t use a brand new or expensive bike, consider using a cheaper one for university.
- Lock it inside: If you’re on campus, do your best to lock it inside whenever possible.
- Register: See if you can register your bike with your university.
When are Bikes Stolen?
It’ll probably come as little surprise that bikes are stolen more frequently during the night, but there are some other interesting trends when it comes to bike theft.
- 28% of bikes are stolen at the weekend, and 72% during the week. (NimbleFins)
- In 2018, 22% of bikes were stolen at night, and another 22% were stolen in the afternoon.(NimbleFins)
- Bikes are more likely to be stolen when it is dark outside (in the evening, or during the night).
- Only 7% of bikes were stolen in the morning. (NimbleFins)
How to Keep your Bike from Being stolen (Tips)
Whilst there’s reason for concern, there are a few precautions that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your bike being stolen.
1. Invest in a Good Lock
Around half of all bikes that are stolen aren’t locked. In other words, invest in a good lock and the chances of it being taken drastically reduce.
Always lock your bike, using more than one lock if possible, regardless of whether it’s being kept indoors or outside. It isn’t foolproof, but it’s a great deterrent.
2. Lock it Inside
The streets are a common place for bike theft. The safest option is to keep your bike inside your home and lock it, especially at night.
Furthermore, it’s better to keep it inside your actual home rather than a shed or garage external to your home, which are much more likely to be stolen from.
3. Lock Smart
Lock your bike not just through the frame, but through the wheels as well. Bikes which are well locked are less likely to be stolen.
It’s also important to lock it to an immovable object, such as a bike rack or a sturdy pole. For the workplace or home, you can also consider investing in a bike anchor which is secured into the ground and makes a great locking point.
As the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. A great deterrent for potential thieves is a bike cover, especially if you’re unable to bring it inside.
Investing in a good bike cover that prevents your bike from being seen is an excellent way to stop it from becoming a target.
5. Take off Removable Parts
Parts which are quickly removed are easily stolen. Saddles and quick-release wheels are easy targets.
The best options are to remove these components or replace them with alternatives which require tools and subsequently more effort to steal.
6. Register and Insure
Bike insurance is also a good idea. It can provide financial protection in case your bike is taken, or damaged for that matter. It’s also worth investigating whether your bike is protected by home insurance.