Victims of bicycle theft in Hackney have had cause to celebrate this month after a new police scheme returned 14 stolen bikes to their rightful owners during its first fortnight of operation.
PCs Maz Lovegrove and Nicola Irvine, who make up the new Hackney Cycle Crime Unit, have already conducted two operations to recover a number of high-value stolen cycles.
One beneficiary of the scheme was Yvonne Adenle. Her bicycle, which had cost around £1000 to purchase and transport to the UK, was stolen earlier this year. Ms Adenle described her surprise and happiness after the bike was recovered and returned to her by the police.
“I was amazed and delighted to get my bike back, which had been stolen in a burglary in August 2010,” she said. “I brought it over from Switzerland and I am a Swiss national so it was more than just an object to me.”
“I would urge every bike owner to register their frame number. Had I not done this and put it on the police report, the police could not have traced the bike back to me when it was recovered.”
PC Lovegrove said: “Cycling in Hackney is more popular than ever but unfortunately all too often bikes are seen as a soft target for thieves looking to make money.”
“Our team is focused on cracking down on bike thieves operating in Hackney, reuniting stolen bikes with their owners and working with residents and visitors to help prevent them from becoming victims of bike theft or vandalism.”
“We want people to be able to park up their beloved bicycle in the confidence that it will be there when they return.”
As well as returning stolen bicycles to their owners, the officers have been actively prompting people to take precautions that could help locate their bikes in case of theft.
Working with local cycle shops, the Unit aims to encourage owners to register their details alongside the frame number of their new bicycle at point of purchase.
“Shops such as London Fields Cycles in Hackney already provide this service which has assisted us in reuniting a number of stolen bikes with their owners,” said PC Lovegrove.
“We are keen for all bike shops to offer this service to their customers as it costs the shops nothing and helps us identify stolen bikes.”
Meanwhile, the bicycles whose owners cannot be traced are donated to local charities.
Rather than go to waste, 68 orphaned bikes have so far been delivered to benevolent organisations including the STA Bikes community project, the City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health’s Therapy and Life Skills Service, and the Pedal Power cycle club for people with disabilities.
Jo Roach, Pedal Power’s Project Manager, said: “Our range of specialised bikes allow people with profound and complex needs to enjoy cycling, with some of our members training for the Special Olympics. Pedal Power cycling club would like to thank Hackney Police for its donation of bikes.”
Owners can register their bicycles for free online at immobilise.com, the UK National Property Register – so that in the event of reported theft, they will appear on the Police National Stolen Equipment Database.