Train station theft of bicycles leaps 42% year-on-year
Fresh analysis by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit has this week uncovered a startling rise in bicycle theft at British train stations.
Up like-for-like by 42%, theft of bicycles rose from 4,500 in 2016-17 to north of 6,400 last year, according to the British Transport Police data.
A favourite for seasoned bike thieves who see transport hubs as ripe picking grounds, train station parking is often either over-subscribed, or under par in security terms; and that’s without taking into account poor quality locks or methods of securing bicycles.
Reacting to the news, the Department for Transport said that it would assess the need for improved security and CCTV for those investing in a multi-modal commute.
Delving into the figures obtained by the BBC, it is apparent that some 16,275 have disappeared from 1,245 over and underground hubs in the past three financial years. The majority of these were in the South East and the capital.
Train stations with the most reported stolen bikes:
Source: BBC / British Transport Police
Quaint Hertfordshire town St. Albans surprises as the nation’s most vulnerable with data revealing 262 thefts over the three year period. Slightly further north, Bedford claims second at 188, while the top five is rounded out by Fareham, Maidenhead and Surbiton.
As far as theft by ratio of passengers goes, the 2018 to 2019 BTP data has Barming as the most at risk with 12 thefts per 100,000 people.
Unsurprisingly, high cycle modal share capital of the UK Cambridge follows up, alongside neighbouring Arlesey with 6 per 100,000. Cambridge, in addressing demand from users, has recently upgraded its cycle parking, building in room for 3,000 bikes on site. This has sadly not entirely alleviated the station’s theft problems, with Cambridge News reporting in June of 2018 that 39 bikes had been stolen from the renovated space.
Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s senior campaigns officer told the BBC:
“Bicycle theft might seem a relatively minor offence – and unfortunately is sometimes treated as such by some police forces – but it is most definitely not.
“It’s a low-risk, high-reward crime, with stolen bikes easily changing hands for hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the internet.
“The majority of these bicycles stolen from train stations are not just playthings, but are undoubtedly being used as a vital link in someone’s journey to work or school.”
Very often bike thefts go unreported, so it is likely that the British Transport Police data is conservative.
The statistics come in tandem with a spring and summer frenzy of raids on bicycle stores across the UK. Notable break ins include raids on the Afan Valley Bike Shed in July, a smash and grab at George Halls Cycle Centre just this week, as well as a ram raid of e-Bike specialist Top Gear Electric Bikes last month in which thieves forgot the chargers.