A police force has warned that bike thieves may be following cyclists home to find out where they live, returning later to steal items, and asked riders to "consider taking different routes home".
The warning comes from Avon and Somerset Police who said thieves in Bristol have a "modus operandi" that is "to possibly follow residents to find out where they live and return later to steal the items".
ITV West Country reported on Bristol's bike theft problem, speaking to victims of thefts, but also heard from the area's police force which said there had been a "number of incidents" and that it believed criminals were targeting riders on high-value mountain bikes and e-bikes.
"The offenders' modus operandi or MO is to possibly follow residents to find out where they live and return later to steal the items," Avon and Somerset Police said. "Check to see if you are being followed and try to obtain relevant vehicle details and descriptions of suspects.
"Also, consider taking different routes home and target hardening your property, for example CCTV, camera doorbells, alarms, better locks, better locks and/or air tags for bikes, using Secured by Design products."
Almost 90 per cent of bike thefts reported to the police in England and Wales between July 2021 and June 2022 closed without a suspect being identified, while a YouGov survey found that more than three quarters of British people do not expect the police to bother investigating bike thefts.
Avon and Somerset Police insisted that "we do understand the impact of this type of theft and we're targeting hotspots and offenders with a range of resources and tactics".
Concerns about the increasingly brazen tactics used by thieves to target cyclists are nothing new, with multiple incidents being reported on this website of criminals using tools such as angle grinders to cut through locks in broad daylight in busy locations, as well as the concerningly frequent reports of violent bikejackings.
This month alone we have shared shocking footage from the West Midlands which showed masked men attempting to steal a cyclist's bike after forcing him off the road with an SUV, and reported on an incident in Wolverhampton which saw a thief attempt to cut through a lock outside Asda, seemingly unconcerned by the bystander withdrawing cash metres away.
Last month, a man was convicted of a bike theft, but only after the mother of the victim held a three-day protest outside the offender's house amid clear CCTV evidence and police inaction.
It was also recently revealed that bike thefts at train stations are up 39 per cent, while the reports of bikejackings keep rolling in.
Last autumn, the situation on one south London cycle route got so bad that graffiti warning cyclists of attacks was sprayed on the entrance to one stretch of infrastructure. A month previous we had reported that a cyclist was threatened with a "foot-long knife" during a robbery 300m away.
London, and the countryside that surrounds it, has been a hotspot for incidents, in August a Kent cyclist once again raising the alarm about bikejackings in the area, sharing video footage of two moped-riding attackers forcing him off the road in a frightening incident on a busy road in broad daylight.
In the most high-profile incident, in autumn 2021, professional cyclist Alexandar Richardson was knocked off his bike, dragged for 100 metres by muggers on motorbikes, and threatened with a machete during a shocking bikejacking in Richmond Park. In April a teenage aged 15 was jailed for 12 months.
Another professional cyclist, former Scottish champion Jennifer George has said she no longer rides alone after she was similarly attacked by two people on a motorbike during a ride from her home in south east London out to Surrey.
The situation got so bad last summer that British Cycling stepped in to say it was "deeply concerned" by the bikejackings and to advise riders to "be mindful of their privacy settings on all electronic devices", such as when uploading rides to Strava or other platforms.
At the time, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said he believes criminals are attracted to stealing high-end bikes because the potential money to be made from selling them on far outweighs the chances of getting caught.
"It is possibly perceived as a low-risk crime if the numbers of people being caught are so low," he explained. "It may be seen as a high-reward, low-risk crime.
"There have been increasing concerns about people cycling out of London to the Kent and Surrey hills who have been victims of muggings or robbery. There are a limited number of routes where people would cycle out of London.
"Somebody has posted on Strava what they are doing on their ride. The criminals will know it is someone on a £3,000 to £4,000 carbon fibre bike who has unwittingly signposted the fact that they are likely to be heading out to Kent or the Surrey Hills. It is on the police's radar."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.