It's MY Bike

2. Establish the Facts

Who steals Bikes and why?

Research has identified three broad groups of cycle thieves:

  • Joyriders: They steal any type of bicycle for either transport or enjoyment. They generally abandon the stolen bicycle after they are finished with. Many are young offenders, 16 and under. The vast majority of these bikes end up being recovered but few are returned to their owner because there is no way of identifying them.
  • Acquisitive: They exploit easy opportunities to steal any type of bicycle and trade it for cash or drugs.
  • Professionals: They steal particular types of bicycles and/or numerous bicycles to order. They are not easily daunted. In the case of bikes that are chained together they will often take all the bikes and remove the chains later.

What do they steal?

Obviously they steal bikes but they also steal bits of bikes as well. It can be safer for a bike thief to steal a frame, a set of forks, wheels and other accessories rather than the bike itself.


If you live in large town or city you will often see evidence of the remains of bikes that have been targetted by bike strippers. However the Police do not record these as bike thefts so we have no idea of how big the problem is.

This underlines the limitations of simple single deterrence where a chain and lock cannot protect a whole bike or a GPS tracker track something it is not attached to.

Who buys stolen bikes?

The simple answer is other cyclists. From a survey by insurer LV= around 260,000 UK cyclists suspect that the second hand bike that they are riding around on was stolen, they chose to ignore the possibility when they made the purchase.

Where are they stolen from?

  • in and around the victim's home
  • in and around the victim's workplace
  • in public space, such as bicycle-parking facilities
  • at risky facilities, such as university campuses and railway stations

How do bike thieves operate?:

We know that most thieves follow some basic principles. These are:

  • They prefer to operate in close proximity to their home or that of a partner, their drug dealer or their fence.
  • They aim to sell whatever they steal within half an hour which includes time to remove any security and repair any damage caused in doing so.
  • They like to be certain about the problem they are dealing with.
  • Thieves are only interested in what they can get for what they steal. If they can't sell it they won't nick it.
  • The vast majority of thieves are not specialists.
  • He, and it generally is a he, does not steal for himself.


Our Methodology