Tower Hamlets is worst area in capital for E-bike and scooter thefts

E-Scooters. Pic: Gideon Katz

Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of E-vehicle thefts in the year to June 2023 with Hackney ranked as fourth worst, according to Metropolitan Police figures.

Tower Hamlets topped the chart with 373 cases and Hackney recorded 299. From June 2022 to June 2023, 2,368 electric bikes and scooters were stolen in London with only 26 suspects charged for the thefts.

The data coincides with the increase in the number of fires relating to E-vehicle batteries which prompted a fresh warning from London Fire Brigade about safety risks.

Only 1.1% of E-vehicle thieves are caught according to the data, while thefts have accelerated across Eastlondonlines boroughs.

Criminals have been able to get away with the thefts because owners often fail to register their bike or E-vehicle according to Stephen Halloran, criminal defence solicitor at Lawtons Solicitors, which obtained the figures using a Freedom of Information request.  

In a statement, Halloran said: “One major contributing factor to increasing theft is that it’s just so easy for criminals to get away with the offence. 

“Unfortunately, suspects aren’t being identified because there’s usually no relationship between themselves and the victim and it’s a relatively low-priority crime for the police to pursue.”

Southwark were second in the chart for thefts with 354 cases and Westminster were third with 308.

As well as the increase in thefts, riders are now also being asked to make sure they are charging their E-scooters or E-bikes safely. 

There has been one reported fire every month this year in Tower Hamlets compared to an average of nine reported fires a month last year in London alone. 

In June, London Fire Brigade attended two separate fire incidents in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, both caused by E-scooters.

In a statement on the Brigade’s website, Deputy Commissioner Dom Ellis said: “Investigators believe an E-bike which was stored by the front door caught fire at the flat in Lower Clapton. At the fire in Spitalfields, the blaze was in the communal hallway and two people had to be led to safety.

“The number of E-bike and scooter fires that we are attending in London is incredibly concerning. So far in 2023, we have been called out to roughly one fire involving these types of vehicles every couple of days. 

As such, we have identified that fires involving lithium batteries are the fastest growing fire risk in the capital, which is why we launched our #ChargeSafe campaign.”

Tower Hamlets council are now offering advice about how owners can charge their E-scooters and E-bikes safely

In a statement to ELL Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We are working closely with London Fire to do everything we can to tackle the surge in e-bike and e-scooter fires. However, the number of fires keeps rising and this issue remains a pressing concern for me and many local councils across the country.

“We are removing imported and unsafe lithium batteries from local shops and working with providers to ensure that no further units enter the supply chain. 

“We are also sharing a safety awareness campaign in the borough, but with limited funding and resources there is only so much we can do. Government support is crucial in order to tackle these fires.”

The brigade issued guidance to riders to not charge E-scooters or E-bikes overnight and to avoid blocking fire exits. 

They urged riders to unplug their chargers once they are charged and to buy replacements from reputable buyers.

E-scooters and E-bikes have been at the centre of debate since their introduction in 2021 with many citing them as unsafe. These fires have sparked fresh concerns about these new modes of modern transport. 

In 2021, Transport for London (TFL) took action to ban E-scooters from public transport in London over safety concerns about the risk of potential fires.

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