The only time I’ve ever had bits of my bike stolen was when I left it secure in the racks at Shenfield station. A lot of work has gone into making bike parking at railway stations secure but it won’t stop a determined thief given the range of bikes on offer.
Figures provided by the British Transport Police for 2009 and 2010 reveal that there were 4322 bicycle thefts, and a further 4938 thefts from bicycles, at national rail stations. However, those figures are likely to under-represent the amount of bike crime at stations.
Resources for the British Transport Police to tackle bike crime are often the greatest at large railways stations (mainly in cities) but when disproportionate levels of cycle theft are recorded at any one station or area, the police often act to bring down levels of crime. Measures include intelligence-led uniformed and plain clothes police patrols, regular live CCTV monitoring of railway station cycle racks and the deployment of tracker bikes to catch thieves.
The best way to reduce bike crime though is prevention and the British Transport Police take active steps to educate bike owners on the best ways of securing their bikes if they leave them at a railway station. Typical crime prevention advice at railway stations includes:
- Ensure the lock being used is a solid lock with a good security rating.
- Use two locks to lock a bike if possible
- Always lock the bike through the frame, not just through the wheel
- Make the lock(s) and bike hard to manoeuvre when parked by ensuring little room between the stand and the bike
- Fix the bike to solid, immovable objects in recognised cycle storage areas within the station.
- Lock the bike in a busy, well-lit and CCTV-covered area. Make a note of where CCTV cameras are in your local train station.
- Get your bike tagged and register it at www.bikeregister.com
- Remove valuables in open baskets or panniers.
Where thefts have taken place, the British Transport Police, across the UK, routinely release CCTV images of people they want to question about possible thefts at railway stations. The British Transport Police often suspect a gang or one person is specifically involved in those thefts.
By getting out a photo of suspects out to the wider community (specific to where the crimes have taken place), usually through print, broadcast and online media, the British Transport hope that positive identifications can be made.
The appeals do work and bike thieves do get caught. British Transport Police in Dorset recently welcomed the conviction of Michael Stephens of Bournemouth following a rise in bike crime around several railway stations in the Dorset area. Officers were able to identify the same man as being present each time at stations where thefts took place from CCTV security cameras at each station. The CCTV images of the man were then released through the local media in Dorset with a call for members of the public to help identify him. Mr Stephens’ was positively identified a number of times by members of the public and was subsequently arrested. Mr Stephens was handed a 12-month community order by Bournemouth Crown Court on March 16 after pleading guilty to 12 cycle thefts, with a further twelve offences taken into consideration.
If you spot suspicious behaviour near station cycle racks or have any information about cycle crime on the railway, contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40