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Three quarters of Brits don’t expect police to bother investigating bike thefts

According to a recently published YouGov survey, 84 percent also believe it’s unlikely that bike thieves will be caught and convicted

More than three quarters of British people reckon that the police won’t bother investigating instances of bicycle theft, a new YouGov survey has found.

According to the poll, bike thefts rank top of the list of crimes Brits don’t expect police to look into thoroughly, ahead of mobile phone snatching, phone and internet scams, and shoplifting.

84 percent of those surveyed also believe that it is unlikely that bike thieves will be caught and convicted, with over half claiming that it is “not likely at all” that criminals stealing bicycles will be found guilty in court.

> Police failed to catch a bike thief in 87% of affected neighbourhoods in past three years 

The YouGov survey follows a report released earlier this month by the police watchdog which argued that police forces in England and Wales are failing to adequately investigate cases of burglary, robbery and theft in England and Wales. 

Recent Home Office figures show that, between March 2021 and March 2022, just 6.3 percent of robbery offences and 4.1 percent of thefts in England and Wales led to charges.

When it comes to bike theft, an investigation by the Telegraph last month found that in 87 percent of the 24,000 neighbourhoods where a stolen bike was reported in the past three years, not a single case had been solved, meaning all the cases had been closed without a suspect identified or charged.

> Cyclists report multiple muggings and thefts on London cycle route 

The newspaper’s investigation suggested that the national average for a suspect being identified and charged was just 1.4 percent in 2020, down from 2.8 per cent in 2016.

Sifting through crime figures and analysing 175,927 crimes between June 2019 and May 2022, the investigation found 18 neighbourhoods (each home to more than 1,500 people) which had more than 100 bike thefts, without a single case being solved.

> "Deeply concerned" British Cycling steps in following spate of violent bikejackings across south London 

This lack of action concerning bike thefts has ultimately led to a widespread lack of confidence in the police to bring thieves to justice.

According to YouGov, 77 percent of Brits don’t expect their local police force to properly investigate reports of bike theft, the highest level for any of the 15 crimes included in the survey.

Just 11 percent of those surveyed think that the police would attempt to pursue leads and catch the culprit or culprits.

In comparison, 70 percent showed a lack of confidence in the police to investigate mobile phone thefts and phone or internet scams, while 67 and 65 percent reckon that they have detected apathy within the police towards shoplifting and anti-social behaviour, respectively.

Not surprisingly, 84 percent believe that it is unlikely that bike thieves will be “caught, found guilty and sentenced in court”, while 55 percent reckoned it was “highly unlikely”.

> "It makes you feel powerless" – victims in UK's bike theft capital share their frustrations 

Last year, we interviewed several bike theft victims in Cambridge, the bike theft capital of the UK where 4,000 bicycles are reported stolen in a typical year, with any more thefts going unreported.

One victim highlighted that repeated break-ins at bike storage facilities where she lives have left people feeling “powerless”, while another said that after their bikes were stolen, neither she nor her partner cycle to the city’s railway stations.

Local cycle campaign group Camcycle estimated that the theft of bicycles – the most reported crime in the city – costs residents more than £1.5 million.

In 2020, James Sutherland, a superintendent of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said that due to budget cuts and focusing on violent crime, the force was unable to prioritise bike theft.

“The loss of focus means cycle thieves have become brazen, greedy and lazy,” he said.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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