Hackney has the second highest number of cycle thefts in London, according to new statistics from the Metropolitan Police. Latest Met figures show 1,650 cycles were stolen in Hackney in the twelve months ending in March, up from 1,517 thefts in the previous year.
Westminster was the worst affected borough, totaling 3,609 bike thefts in the last two years. In total, 45,000 bikes have been stolen in London during this two-year period.
London Assembly member and cyclist Jenny Jones, has called for the Met to make more effort to reduce thefts after three of her own bikes have been stolen. She said: “These figures show that there are far too many bikes being stolen. It is a crime that can cause a lot of inconvenience and upset and stopping it needs to be seen by the Met as a core policing task.”
There is some good news for Hackney residents however, as statistics for April and May this year show a 30 per cent drop in cycle thefts in the borough, where 250 bikes were stolen compared to 320 during the same period the year before.
PC Stuart Pacey, Hackney Safer Transport team, told ELL: “Cycle theft is a key priority for the Hackney Safer Transport Team who have worked hard to tackle cycle theft in the area.”
He said the team has used a number of tactics including bike marking and registration events to reduce the risk of cyclists becoming victims of theft. A number of arrests have been made and 15 bikes have been recovered, he said, due to intelligence-led operations and high-visibility patrols.
The Metropolitan Police Cycle Task Force, funded by Transport for London, has been working with cycle shops and on-line retailers to target individuals selling stolen bikes.
Cyclist Lynne Plested, 35, a support worker for the homeless said: “I wouldn’t report if my bike was stolen because there’s no point spending an hour or so at the police station for it to not even be looked into.
“I think people need to be more responsible when they’re buying a bike. I refuse to buy a second-hand bike that doesn’t come with a receipt. People buy cheap bikes off places like Gumtree and don’t ask for receipts because they don’t care.”
Mick, 32, manager of Daycocks Cycles on Kingsland High Road said: “We always advise people to buy as many locks as possible, but a lot of people don’t want to carry locks. They don’t want to carry something heavy. They’ll say ‘Oh, I’ll take the lighter one – that will do.’ And then it gets cut.”
Trevor Parsons, co-ordinator at the London Cycling Campaign in Hackney, said: “Cycle theft is often thought of as being of minor importance, but in fact it is a crime that has a major impact on people’s lives. For many people on low and moderate incomes, their bicycle is one of their most valuable assets, and we know that a significant proportion of people give up cycling permanently after having their bike stolen.”
Hackney has experienced the highest rate of growth in cycling in the country over the last 20 years and a specialised cycle crime unit was set up in the borough in 2010. Parsons said: “It had some success, but was wound up after about a year. We would like to see it re-established.”
For information bike theft prevention, go to http://lcc.org.uk/articles/cycle-security-lock-it-or-lose-it
By Emma Marvin