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Police warning over hospital bike thefts

The Police Service is asking hospital staff to pay extra attention to security of their bikes whilst at work, after numerous reports from across the country of bikes being stolen from hospitals during the ongoing pandemic.

The UK Police’s National Lead for Cycle Crime, Superintendent Mark Cleland, said: “Throughout the Pandemic our key workers have stepped up and worked tirelessly to save lives, working long hours and putting themselves at risk. To think that there is a criminal element that targets our national heroes by stealing their bikes and taking away their means to get to work is sickening.

“Cycle Crime is not a victimless crime. Criminals take away our means of transport, our means to stay fit and healthy and often our most cherished possession with many happy memories. It’s often a case that those who have their bike stolen never buy another bike again.

“So help us tackle cycle crime. Take on the best advice to protect your bike and if you have any information that can target those who target our key workers then contact your local Police, you can even call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111. Help us to help our key workers.”

Bike image

Doug Skins from the official police security initiative Secured by Design said: “The number of people cycling has increased considerably during the pandemic, with many key workers preferring to cycle as part or all of their commute.

“Indeed, it was reported in the national media that 1.3 million people purchased a bike during the first national lockdown. However, the latest BikeRegister survey has seen significant increases the theft of bikes for each of the last seven months of 2020 compared to the same months the previous years – increases of between 28.1% and 69.4% - and it’s absolutely appalling that hospitals and NHS staff are being targeted by these thieves.

“Our tips are designed to help you keep your bike safe and secure, and reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim of bike theft”.

James Brown, BikeRegister Managing Director, said: “We have been shocked at the rapid rise of cycle theft recently, especially considering it was already at unacceptable levels. To combat this, we are urging cyclists and retailers to register bikes at and to security mark the frame with a BikeRegister marking kit. Registering will help if your bike is stolen, but only marking it will help protect it from thieves. Marking your bike with a BikeRegister kit makes it almost half as likely to be stolen as an unmarked bike.”

Cycle crime infographic

Top tips to secure your bike:

Register & Record it
Register your bike on a secure, Secured by Design (SBD) recognised national database. Remember to record as many details of your bike as you can, such as the make/model, size, colour, frame number (normally found underneath the bike between the pedals or where the back wheel slots in), plus any other distinguishing features, and take a photo. The police will check these databases if they find bikes in the possession of a criminal or in the street to identify the rightful owner.

Security mark it
Security marking your bike using a SBD recognised forensic asset marking or etching kit is another highly effective, visible deterrent to thieves and an established method of reducing theft. Thieves know that if they are caught with a marked and registered bike they will be arrested, as the rightful owner can be traced by the police within seconds.

Double-lock it, secure it and lock the lot
It can take thieves as little as a few seconds to cut through some locks that haven’t achieved the Police Preferred Specification, so use two good quality locks, at least one of which is a D-lock (sometimes referred to as a U-lock).

Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible to give any thieves little or no room to manoeuvre.

Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand. Locks are considered more vulnerable when they come in to contact with the ground, so keep them off the floor.

Remove the removable bits
Take parts that are easy to remove with you, such as the saddle or wheels. Or use locking skewers or nuts which can increase security by securing the bike's components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal detachable parts.

Park secure
Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking. It should be well lit and covered by CCTV. Secured cycle hubs and racks are provided by local councils and business, however, while some of these products are security tested some are not, so be wary.

Avoid leaving your bike in isolated or dimly lit places, always leave your bike where a potential thief will have to perform in public!

Don’t lock your bike to an open ended structure such as a sign post – thieves just lift the bike over the top of it.

Avoid locking your bike against a gate or wall, thieves will often use leverage against the wall or gate to break the bike lock.

Electric Bikes are very expensive, so try not to leave in the same place on a regular basis – it may be noticed and stolen to order by a determined thief.

Keep valuables secure when cycling
Always keep your valuables secure when cycling. Don't put them in open baskets or panniers.

Be aware of your surroundings
Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially whilst stationary. Thieves target unsuspecting cyclists for both their valuables and their bikes.

The Secured by Design website has a dedicated section on it in respect of bike security, bringing together advice and tips, first-hand knowledge, industry best practices and practical crime prevention advice from officers and specialist teams from across the UK police service. This advice can be found here and is an excellent resource.

Secured by Design operate an accreditation scheme on behalf of the UK Police Service for products or services that have met recognised security standards. The Secured by Design focus is on the critical factors that combine to deliver a product’s performance - design, use, quality control and the ability to deter or prevent crime – and these products or services are known as being of a ‘Police Preferred Specification’.

The Secured by Design website contains details of the many hundreds of companies who produce over 7000 individual attack resistant crime prevention products in more than 30 different categories that have met the exacting Police Preferred Specification. All of the companies have their website and full contact information listed, as well as a detailed list of all of the Secured by Design accredited products which they provide.