If you like to mix your running training with some cycling be warned – thieves are stealing bikes a plenty in Norwich and just waiting to get their hands on your bike.
In fact, they probably are whether you run or not.
But now, if you are lucky, you might have the chance to get your bike back – or at least not leave it in a place where the thieves like to hang out, unlike me.
And here is how I know.
Because I found, John Moss, the man who has set up Stolen Bikes UK.
And he also showed me how I could find out where thieves were stealing bikes in my city.
For the last five years, or so, I had been the proud owner of a Ridgeback Storm, courtesy of the Cycle to Work Scheme – the bike had seen me through this year’s Norwich 50/100 Ride, and I was doing my bit by using it to cycle into the city centre for meetings.
I had always been careful and used to lock it in the work bike sheds. In fact, I had never dared leave it in the city because I thought it would get nicked.
But since setting up my own business, Content Connective, in August, that option was no longer available.
So, I chanced it by locking it up in St Gregory’s Alley at noon while I headed off to a meeting and a trip to the Millennium Library.
Of course, life being what it is, I bumped into someone I knew on the way and stopped for coffee at Marzano, so it was nearer 3pm as I headed back.
And walking down Lower Goat Lane I started thinking ‘you know, I bet my bike has been stolen’. And, of course, it had.
How big a problem is cycle theft in Norwich?
Anecdotally most people I told about my stolen bike said ‘yeah, apparently it’s getting worse, and becoming a real problem in the city’.
So is it?
First off I thought I’d ask the police to find out. I probably went the wrong way about it by asking colleagues in the police press office, who suggested I needed to submit a freedom of information request.
So then I thought I’d ask the guys at Aviva, whose general insurance press office, is based in Norwich. And they pointed me to an interesting release they issued during last year’s Aviva Women’s Tour of Britain, which noted a 75pc rise in people taking out additional insurance for their bikes.
And they also put me on to John Moss – founder of Stolen Bikes UK, where you can upload details of your stoken bike and also get tips on what you can do to recover it.
So I emailed him about whey he had set up Stolen Bikes UK and below is his response.
Why had he set it up?
I had my own one of a kind bike stolen in a Burglary, whilst the responding officer was fantastic my case was quickly closed. Disappointed I set out to build a service to help people do all the commonsense things to maximise chances of seeing a bike again.
What is the scale of the problem?
It’s huge and it’s doesn’t just effect the victim, 25% of bike theft victims give up cycling and 66% of cycle less this is an issue that cycling campaigns should be tackling and is often sighted by those that don’t cycle as a reason not to (second to safety). Recently it appears to be dropping but we don’t yet know if this is going to be a permanent trend.
How can the website help?
As above we provide the tools for victims to publicise and keep an eye out for their bike, we provide some hints and tips that can/have led to bike being recovered. As for it’s success check out our recovery stories.
John sent me a link to the police.uk website a home office initiative where you can search for crime stats in your area including where thieves are stealing bikes from.
And this is what it said: Number of reported bike thefts
|August 16 (2015)||43 (16)|
So, with the exception of August 2015 when it looks like there was a bit of a drop, the figures seem pretty consistent, according to this snapshot at least – between 30 and 45 bikes reported stolen each month in Norwich between May and August, and they are just the ones we know about.
Recently I’d found myself cycling more, mostly because I was commuting more into Norwich, but also because I was using it as for low level cross training.
And the benefits were working as I had lost around half a stone (that’s 7lbs for US readers or 3.2kg in pre-Brexit Britain).
To be honest, I blame myself for being stupid enough to leave it there in the first place, but it was clean gone, and the police at Bethel Street Station although helpful enough – taking down my details and giving me a crime number – were also realistic.
“There’s no CCTV in that area, so without any leads there’s not much we can do.”
But now I’ve got a £200 excess to pay on the insurance before I can get another one.
And I can’t do any cross training either.
An example from the Police.uk website showing a stolen bike report in Norwich (not mine)
Top tips for protecting your bike* <and what actually happened in real life>
- Prevent thieves from taking your bike by locking it to a fixed object such as a bike rack or a ground anchor, these are often found in designated bike parking areas – Yeah I did that but they cut through the lock, designated bike parking in Norwich? Now that’s a good idea…
- Ensure the bike cannot be lifted off the anchor otherwise thieves may still be able to steal it – I wonder if they threw it in a van at the end of the road, you hear these stories..
- Use a good quality lock such as a D-lock which is strong and difficult for thieves to cut through – Epic fail on my part, I used a flexi-chain; useless apparently
- Ensure the lock is around the wheel, frame AND anchor to which it is attached otherwise thieves may be able to remove parts of your bike and lift the main frame away – Locked it through the wheels and frame and the metal post; they took the lot (apart from the post)…
- Try to remove easy-to-steal parts or accessories like the saddle and post, pumps or clip-less pedals, Some thieves like to steal these too. Ermm, why not just take the bike with you…
- Leave your bike in a well-lit area with CCTV cameras where thieves are less likely to loiter and will be deterred from robbery – You guessed it, no CCTV in this area, so no leads for the police to follow…
- Avoid leaving your bike in isolated areas, and lock it near to other bikes so yours is not such an obvious target – It was a busy thoroughfare, broad daylight and the middle of the day, well between noon and 3pm…
- Register your bike with a tracker website such as www.bikeregister.com or www.immobilise.com so police authorities can trace and identify your bike if it does get stolen – hindsight is a wonderful thing…I wonder if I can blame the council…
- Photograph your bike and note down the serial number, make and model. If it does get stolen this will make it easy to identify to the police and insurers – Yep that’s right, I never took a picture of my bike…I will now though despite what my wife says..
- Security-mark the frame using an ultraviolet marker. If it is stolen and found again, it will be identified as yours and possibly returned to you – I’m beginning to feel this was my fault…
*Courtesy of Aviva press office