Suspect identified in only one in 10 bicycle theft cases in England and Wales: The Guardian

If you’ve every had your bike stolen you’ll know the terrible feeling of loss and grief that comes with that experience. I personally have had two bikes stolen, one was my trusty BMX that was pinched from school, the other a MTB that was stolen right across from a police station in Rawtenstall, England.

The fact that they got away with that thievery under the noses of the police might be more understandable (of no less forgivable) when you consider that in a whopping 90% of bike theft cases in the UK, a suspect is never identified, and within that 10% where a suspect is found, just 1.7% resulted in someone being charged.

I use my bicycles as my main form of transport, not just for touring and racing, and often find myself in towns looking for a ‘good’ place to lock up my bike. There are so few specifically designed spots for bicycle parking that it’s often a fruitless search and I end up leaving it in a less than desirable spot and worrying about it as I go about my business.

My lock would really be of little use if it came up against a pair of garden shears, never mind bolt cutters, but I don’t want to carry around a big heavy lock. Though should we have to? Bicycles have a huge part to play in a cleaner future, especially in towns and cities. As a result of this fact, local governments should design and build bicycle parks where a commuter can leave his or her bike safe in the knowledge that it is perfectly safe – as they have in Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands.

In a study detailed in The Guardian, several comment on the trauma of bike theft and the woeful figures unearthed by the report.

Alistair Carmichael, the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokesperson, who led the analysis, said it was “shocking that if your bike gets stolen, there’s very little chance of ever seeing the thief caught and punished”.

Keir Gallagher, a campaigns manager at Cycling UK, said: “Bike theft is sometimes perceived as a petty crime, but it carries a huge social impact, putting many people off cycling altogether. Local authorities, workplaces and businesses can do more to ensure everyone has access to secure cycle storage, but until criminals believe there is a genuine risk of being caught, this scourge will sadly continue.

“While we acknowledge the limitations on police resources, with more than half of stolen bikes being sold online, there is clearly scope for improved targeting of online marketplaces to identify and prosecute serial offenders and organised criminals.”

An article in Reliance Foundry states that:

‘Cyclists are four times more likely than car owners to be victims of vehicle theft, but car theft still receives much more attention from law enforcement. The discrepancy is primarily due to the relative cost of cars versus bikes, and the number of drivers versus cyclists. The low clearance rates are also a contributor – police officers aren’t always keen to prioritize a case that is unlikely to be cleared.

‘This enforcement bias unintentionally favors the wealthy. People who can afford to own a car and pay for parking get their vehicle theft reports taken seriously by police, while those who cannot afford to drive, or who choose to live more economically, do not.’

Read the full article here in The Guardian.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

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