Are stolen bike rates falling back to 'normal' levels?

Stolen Ride can reveal that reported crime data from the Met Police indicates a return to ‘normal’ (pre-pandemic) rates for stolen bikes.

July is most commonly the peak for recorded stolen bikes when viewing historical Met Police data. 2020 aside, which had a very large spike in August and September.

2198 was the recorded bicycle theft figure for the Met Police in July 2021, compared to:

  • 2899 July 2020
  • 2377 July 2019
  • 2293 July 2018
  • 2490 July 2017

July 2021 actually had the lowest number of thefts in any July since 2016, which had 1914 ‘reported’ thefts.

Bicycle theft reports 2021 - Met Police

We should take note that the England lockdown finally ended in July and with more people vaccinated, a shift for some from cycling, back to public transport would have unfortunately started. Adding to this, the weather was a real mix in July with even some severe flooding in parts of London.

Speaking to Laura Laker, for the Guardian in July 2021, TfL mentioned the following about what their data is revealing:

“Weekday cycling numbers have dropped 12% in the capital because of rain and fewer commuting trips, but numbers at weekends are up 47% against pre-pandemic numbers, even during rainy weekend days. Overall, flows across the week are down by 3%.”

Flexible working has arrived

The world has changed for office workers, with flexible working becoming the norm for most. No longer having to go in 5 days a week for the 9-5 grind, instead choosing when they should go in (if at all). So this shift to higher weekend and lower weekday volumes might be here to stay. However, bike sales are still on the up and new cyclists should be nurtured to ensure they keep cycling and do commute by bike. This includes improving infrastructure and the overall experience, including taking action on bicycle theft and all the connected aspects.

The police must increase their resource

At Stolen Ride we make ourselves available 7 days a week, 365, to help victims of bicycle theft via direct messages and sharing of posts on social media. We have noticed an increase in theft victims finding their stolen bikes for sale online, but not gaining quick help and support from the police. This is something that deeply affects us, as whilst we can advise what to do regarding collecting evidence with the online listing, victims must wait for the police to act. Often these individuals air their disappointment on social media about the police, which could impact others from reporting stolen bikes if they see little point in doing so. Estimates from surveys mention that bicycle theft rates are likely 3 – 5 times higher than what are reported to the police.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, we still have August left of the summer and the peak season for stolen bikes runs to the end of October. It will be interesting to see how the next few months pan out, after all the lockdown only finished at the end of July and 2021 still does not feel like a ‘typical year’. It would also be key to do further analysis around transport hubs to find trends, whilst viewing British Transport data.