More than 2,000 cycles have been stolen in Cambridge in one year – with an estimated value of £1 million – as police crack down on the crime.
It is one of the most common offences in the ‘city of cycles’ making up about 20 per cent of all crime and major efforts have been made to drive down the number of bike thefts.
And the worst wards for cycle theft have also been named as Market, Petersfield and Trumpington.
Almost 14,000 bikes were reported stolen in Cambridge in the last six years – bringing the total value to an estimated £7 million.
But in 2014 a total of 2,221 cycles were stolen and another 2,054 were taken last year, hitting cyclists in the pocket.
Joe Lalor, of Townsends Light Blue Cycle Centre in Chesterton Road, said: “The value of a bike really depends but the average cost of a commuter bike in Cambridge, which are most used here, is between £500 and £600, but we have had customers who have had bikes stolen from gardens and sheds which are worth more than £1,000 and there have been some very expensive bikes stolen worth £4,000.
“And a lot of the locks we sell give a guarantee on the bike of £800 if it’s stolen. There are so many cycling commuters in Cambridge who cycle from the city or the villages that business is good and we do a lot of servicing too.”
Sgt Chris Horton, Cambridge police’s cycle crime champion, has been leading a crackdown on the crime.
He said: “Bicycle crime, namely theft of bicycles, is a huge issue in Cambridge and by far the most prevalent single offence category in the city. Traditionally it has been quoted as being around 20 per cent of all reported crime in the city.
“It is estimated that around seven bicycles are reported stolen in the city each day, amounting to over 2,000 reported stolen bikes each year. From Jan 2014 to July 2015 – 2,852 cycles have been stolen in Cambridge district where values have been indicated. The total cost is £987,116. This makes an average of £346 per bike reported stolen in Cambridge.”
The officer has also been looking at the cost of the crime.
He said: “It is estimated by the insurance website Policy Expert that nearly 70 per cent of bicycle owners in the UK own a bicycle costing £500 or more, and that one in five bicycle owners in the UK own a bicycle worth over £1,100.”
“Market research firm Mintel also reports research that UK bicycle owners using retail finance spend about £1,000 on bicycles. It has been quoted by the insurance industry that the average value of a bike reported stolen in the UK is around £611.
“As well as the obvious inconvenience and upset caused by a theft of a bicycle, it is also worth considering that in many instances, and particularly in Cambridge, a bicycle will often provide the main form of transport to and from work or college or university.
“The financial implications not only involve bicycle replacement but also resultant travel expenses and inconvenience. A large number of cycle theft victims do not live in the city centre and rely heavily on their bicycles.
“It must also be noted that there are a large number of repeat victims of bicycle theft resulting in added anxiety on top of the inconvenience and upset of the victim. This can create an impression that Cambridge city is not a safe place to leave a bicycle.”
Sgt Horton said that victims of bike theft didn’t just suffer a financial impact.
He said: “There is often a sentimental value attached to bicycles as well. One example was a £3,000 bike which was stolen. The bike belonged to the victim’s father who raced it in a world championship in the 1970s.
“The bike could never be replaced, and insult was added to injury as it transpired the thief had sold the bike for a mere £30.”