Data released by British bike insurer Bikmo
last Thursday adds to a growing number of statistics that indicate bike theft is on the rise due to the pandemic.
Bikmo said claims for theft were up 23% from just two years ago in 2020 and theft accounted for just under 49% of its total claims. Bikmo is predicting a further 45% rise in bike theft in 2021. This figure is echoed by stats from North America in the past few months too. The police stats from New York
show that the number of bicycles, including those with electric motors, reported stolen from March through September was 4,477, an increase of 27% from the same period last year.
Meanwhile, police in Chicago
have seen a 6% increase in thefts this year, while the Chicago Stolen Bike Registry has seen a nearly 50% spike. Finally, stats from the Netherlands
indicate that the total number of bike thefts have fallen but the total cost of stolen bikes (€600 million) has increased as thieves target more expensive models.What is fuelling the rise in bike thefts?
These stats can primarily be seen as downstream effects from the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting bike boom. As we've covered many times, as people turned away from public transport and towards cycling as a form of exercise during the lockdown periods of 2020, the number of bikes being sold spiked drastically.
As the number of cyclists, especially inexperienced ones, increased, it meant more bikes were on the streets to be stolen. On top of this, those new cyclists may not have been aware of the widespread extent of bike theft or may not have been taught how to properly lock up their bikes, so they will have made tempting targets for thieves.
The increasing number of cyclists came hand in hand with a shortage of bikes, which caused a resulting boom in the second-hand bike market. This has raised the price of bikes on second-hand selling sites and made bikes more attractive pickings for thieves as they can be quickly and anonymously sold on to people desperate to get their hands on a new mode of transport.
The pandemic also seems to have made smash and grab thefts of shops more feasible for criminals too. In the UK, trail centre hire shops such as those at Laggan Wolf Trax
and Afan Valley
have reported break-ins in recent weeks with total losses coming to around £100,000. A recent report from Bicycle Retailer about smash and grabs in Portland
indicated that increased demand for bikes empty premises and fewer witnesses have made thieves bolder and shops more attractive for break-ins.What can you do to keep your bike safe?
All of this makes for quite depressing news for bike owners as your bike is less safe now than it was in recent years. Below are some tips we've picked up over the years to keep bikes as safe as possible:
- Keep your bike inside whenever possible. If it is outside or in a shed make sure it is locked to something anchored to the ground. Consider an alarm on your shed as well.
- Turn on privacy settings on your Strava and social media so that you aren't advertising where your bike is to potential thieves.
- If you're locking up outside do so with more than one type of well rated lock e.g a cable lock and a D-lock. Make sure any easily removable parts (for example wheels) are locked to the frame or something solid.
- Identify and register your bike with a recovery scheme, make a note of its serial number and make sure you have photos of it, including any distinctive features, as these will help you recover it if it does get stolen.