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Metropolitan Police, TfL and Jon Snow urge London cyclists to get their bikes marked

Hundreds of stolen bikes recovered in capital each year can't be matched to owners ...

Transport for London (TfL), the Metropolitan Police and TV newsreader Jon Snow have joined forces to urge the capital’s cyclists to get their bikes security marked to increase the chances of their being reunited with them in the event they are recovered after being stolen.

In 2009, more than 23,000 bikes were reported stolen in the capital and according to the Metropolitan Police, each year thousands of lost or stolen bikes are recovered, but in hundreds of cases they are unable to reunite them with their rightful owners meaning that eventually they end up being destroyed, auctioned off or given to charity.

Bikes that can’t traced back to their legal owners include models from brands such as Trek, Specialized and Scott, say the police, who have announced three sessions where people can get their bikes security marked. The first of those takes place today, outside Evans Cycles at the junction of Tooley Street and London Bridge, from 4pm to 7pm.

There will also be bike marking sessions at Golders Green Road on 2 September from 10am-2pm, and during the same hours on 5th September at The Mall during the London Sky Ride.

Sergeant Titus Halliwell of the Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Task Force, set up earlier this year, said: “When we recover a stolen bike we run its details past a number of databases in the hope that we will have a match with its owner. However if the owner hasn’t registered their bike frame number or security mark, which is unique to every bike, it is virtually impossible for us to reunite people with their bikes.

He continued: “It’s really sad to see thousands of great, and well-loved bikes laying unused in the Capital’s police stations. London’s cyclists can help us by taking a few minutes to note down their frame number, and by coming along to one of our free bike marking events where we can also register their bike for them. These simple steps will help us maximise our chances of getting them their bikes back if they get stolen.”

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Transport Advisor, pointed out how easy it was to get a bicycle security marked, saying: “A few simple steps can significantly increase the odds of getting your bike back, so take a couple of minutes of your time and get it marked.

“Only recently the Cycle Task Force marked my bike and it took less than five minutes. I’d encourage cyclists to take the time to go down to one of their events, and meet the officers, who will not only mark your bike but provide you with some sound advice.”

Channel 4’s Jon Snow, who has had two Condor bikes stolen in recent months, said: “I feel an idiot not to have security marked my bike before. Having lost two seriously good bikes in a year, I shall most definitely be security marking my next bike, hoping against hope that my most recent bike loss is my last."

The Metropolitan Police Cycle Task Force and TfL recommend that cyclists in London take the following steps to maximise their chances of being reunited with their bicycle if it is stolen:

  • · Keep a record of your bike frame number and provide it to the police if your bicycle goes missing;
  • · Attend a free police bike marking session or buy a security marking kit to ensure your bike has its own unique number;
  • · Register your bicycle on a recognised database so that police can use it to reunite stolen goods with their legitimate owners.

Siwan Hayward, Deputy Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing at TfL said: “The Cycle Task Force has had some excellent results since it was set up two months ago and to date they have made 36 arrests. What’s more, they have already security marked more than 4,000 bikes and are so passionate about returning the stolen bicycles they retrieve to their rightful owners that they will not stop until they have exhausted every avenue.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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packer | 13 years ago

I recently had by bike marked by the police as they were doing a big marking session one morning on my commuting route.
They put a number on your frame using some nasty chemical which the office told me burns the number into the paint, so a thief would have to remove all the paint around the area to get rid of it. They then took my email address and said they would set up an account for me on the Immobilise website which the bike would then be linked to.

A month later I had not received an email from them so I checked with Immobilise and they had not set up an account for me. I wonder if they had bothered setting up any account at all for the hundreds of bikes they marked that day - if not then the entire exercise was a complete waste of time.

I then decided that I would set up my own account on the Immobilise website and link the number they put on my frame to it. However, when I cleaned the dirt off the bottom of the frame (with a wet cloth) to get a better look at the number it rubbed right off! "Burned into the paint" it most definitely was not.
Either the process they are using is fundamentally flawed or else the officer who did it did not know what they were doing. Either way it was, for a second time, a complete waste of time and money.


David French | 13 years ago

What's the point?! The police's OWN marked bikes were tracked down and they let the theives get away with it!

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