Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Great Britain's worst railway station for cycle theft named

St Alban's City takes unwanted accolade - but scale of problem is understated...

St Alban’s City has the highest number of bike thefts of any railway station in Great Britain, according to data obtained by the BBC, which has highlighted strong growth in the crime over the past couple of years.

In 2018/19, 6,400 bikes were reported stolen from railway property, according to figures from British Transport Police and published by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, up 42 per cent on the reported 4,500 stolen in 2016/17.

At St Albans City, which ranks 66th nationwide in terms of passenger entries and exits and has 1,150 secure cycle parking spaces, 262 bikes were reported stolen over the three-year period.

Next came Bedford Midland (with 188 reported thefts from 2016/17 and 2017/18), followed by Fareham (152), Maidenhead (141), Surbiton (139), Chelmsford (137), Oxford (134), Birmingham New Street (130) and Ashford International (128).

With the exception of Birmingham New Street, all those stations are on busy commuter routes into London.

As highlighted in 2016 when we investigated railway station bike theft, one possibility is that thieves target such stations where bikes are likely to be left during working hours so they can go about their activities during quieter parts of the day when they are less likely to be disturbed.

> Where are Britain’s station cycle theft hotspots?

Sam Jones, senior campaigns officer at Cycling UK, told the BBC: “Bicycle theft might seem a relatively minor offence - and unfortunately is sometimes treated as such by some police forces - but it is most definitely not," he said.

"It's a low-risk, high-reward crime, with stolen bikes easily changing hands for hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the internet.

"The majority of these bicycles stolen from train stations are not just playthings, but are undoubtedly being used as a vital link in someone's journey to work or school."

It is highly likely that the figures underestimate the scale of the problem for several reasons.

First, many bike thefts go unreported, so won’t appear in police statistics at all.

Secondly, not all thefts of bikes near railway stations will fall to British Transport Police to deal with, but to the local constabulary, so even if they are reported, they won’t be in these figures.

We suspect this is one reason why, for example, thefts from London mainline railway stations are to much less than might be expected – as dedicated bike parking facilities are introduced there, often on the platform side of the barriers and covered by CCTV, thieves seek easier pickings in nearby streets.

Thirdly, as we have pointed out before, it seems the data only relate to thefts on the station premises themselves.

In Cambridge, for instance, only one theft was recorded in 2016/17, two in 2017/18 and three in 2018/19.

Yet when conducted its in-depth investigation into railway station bike thefts in 2016, we found that there had been an average of 69.5 reported thefts at Cambridge railway station from 2011-14.

Since then, the UK’s largest cycle parking facility has opened at the station, with space for more than 3,000 bikes.

It’s run by station operator Abellio Greater Anglia, and policed by British Transport Police. However, a June 2018 report from Cambridge News found that in the first year of operation, 39 reported bike thefts had happened at the building.

Add in bike thefts in the area around the station that fall under the responsibility of Cambridgeshire Constabulary – the CB1 postcode has more than 100 such reported thefts each month, some of which will be in the station area – and it’s legitimate to question how, for this station at least, the figures obtained from the BBC are arrived at.

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.

Add new comment


Awavey | 4 years ago

the downsides of the secure parking at railway stations is the limited space they have dedicated too them, which means they are inevitably vastly over subscribed and you end up on a waiting list which may take you a minimum of 2 years to get to the top of, and like all bike sheds, the people using them arent using them 100% of the time, or are just using them as extra storage for their bikes, so you walk past these compounds that have spaces for bikes, or bikes that clearly dont move often taking up space that you cant use, because the station operators will have ripped out all the rest of the less secure bike space.

and I think this is where this survey is getting its unusually low numbers from as Im sure this issue has been discussed before, and its something like only bikes that are stolen from within the station property or station provided facilities, get counted as being stolen at train stations, the rest happen to occur within the same postcode as the train station, but arent counted against the train station.


BehindTheBikesheds | 4 years ago
1 like

I was discussing this the other day, I reckoned there could be a 1000 bespoke bicycle parking stations across the country for the same cost of two miles of road that bypasses a few stones stuck in the ground!

Having registered access to properly secure parking should be the norm and it should be funded to ensure it remains inexpensive or even free, joined up transport is massively important and funding these facilities stil works out cheaper than the costs of the alternates.

Maybe we could piss away tens of billions transporting a few hundred thousand people a day instead of simply building one big fuck off road right down the middle of London and it be a cycling superhighway in its truest sense, capable of at least three times the number of people being carried during peak hours!


Rick_Rude | 4 years ago

Anyone that commutes on a really expensive bike and locks up in public is daft imo.  Ok, the point is that you 'should' be able to do it but any grasp of reality means it's a known risk. 

Get an old shitter and put something smooth but assuming on like shimano r500s and it'll roll as well as anything for work.  I ran a fixie with an obviously hand painted frame and stickerless wheels  for a while when I wanted to leave a bike in the town centre. 

ktache | 4 years ago

chrisl, I'm glad he got to keep his bike.  Just wondering, what lock did the scrotes cut and what foiled them?

chrisl | 4 years ago
1 like

Well obviously the local bike thieves want to keep their top spot as my gent had his locks cut at St Albans today! Fortunately one held up to the attempt and he was able to ride home.

rogerzilla | 4 years ago

St Albans is pretty rich, so the tealeaves could just have nice MAMIL bikes to choose from. The winning strategy at Paddington, from casual observation, is to ride an appalling BSO with zero resale appeal. Out in the provinces, you often see some nice bikes in the racks.

Latest Comments