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Bike thefts at train stations up 39% year-on-year, research reveals

While the reported figures show 14,110 bikes have been stolen at UK train stations since 2021, the actual number is likely to be much higher

The grim reality of Britain's bike theft problem has been emphasised once again, this time with the publication of new research showing that the number of bicycles stolen from train stations is up 39 per cent year-on-year, with 6,956 bikes reported stolen from railway stations in 2022.

The numbers come courtesy of Direct Line Home Insurance who surveyed cyclists and submitted a Freedom of Information request to the British Transport Police, the data covering all areas policed by BTP, including Britain's railways, London Underground, the Midland Metro tram system, Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink, Tyne and Wear Metro, Glasgow Subway and Emirates AirLine.

Most eye-catching is the figure that the number of reported bike thefts at these locations is up 39 per cent from 4,999 in 2021 to 6,956 in 2022, with 14,110 bikes stolen from train stations across the UK since 2021.

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And while some of this year-on-year increase might be explained by the fact the UK was in lockdown for the opening part of 2021 and therefore travelling less, this still equates to 19 reported stolen bikes per day in 2022.

Of course, the actual number is likely to much higher due to the fact not every bicycle stolen gets reported. In fact, of the people surveyed, 36 per cent admitted that they did not report their bike as stolen, Direct Line estimating that 39 per cent of people who have owned a bike had it stolen.

Concerningly, the crime figures show that in 2022, just 1.5 per cent (103) of stolen bikes were recovered. Furthermore, the number of people charged fell by eight per cent in 2022, from 260 charges in 2021 to 238 in 2022.

According to the research, St Albans City station in Hertfordshire suffered the most reported thefts, with 260 last year, more than one theft every two days. Cambridge North was the second worst station for bike thefts, with 217 recorded, while Woking, Bristol Temple Meads, Walton-on-Thames, Reading and Oxford came next, with 182, 179, 178, 163, 149 thefts respectively.

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Hull Paragon was the only station north of Peterborough to be in the top 10 worst stations for reported bike thefts, with 136, while Winchester had 135, Surbiton 127 and the aforementioned Peterborough also 127.

Dan Simson, the Head of Direct Line Insurance said it was clear train stations were a "prime target" for thieves due to the amount of bicycles left every day.

In May, a station manager insisted that no bikes had been stolen from Bitton Station after images emerged of a bike rack that had been cut in two, presumably in the act or attempted act of stealing a bicycle.

Bike rack cut in two at Bitton Railway Station (credit – Elizabeth Silver, Facebook)

Avon Valley Railway's Mark Simmons said: "It's a shame it's happened and we have no idea how or why it's happened, I believe it was sawn through."

However, he said that cyclists should continue to use the racks for safety reasons at the station, and that there have been no reports of thefts.

Cycling UK has warned that the "bike theft scourge will continue until there's a genuine risk criminals might get caught". That comment coming after police figures, cited in today's research, showed that only one in a hundred thefts lead to a prosectution.

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.

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5 comments

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JN35000 | 7 months ago
1 like

Let's say the 260 bikes stolen from St Alban's are worth a thousand each, that's a quarter of a million pounds worth of crime. You'd think it would be worth PC Plod's time to stake out the station and nab a few thieves. And it would be an easy way to move the local police station's clear-up rate up the league tables.

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Adam Sutton | 7 months ago
2 likes

The problem is only going to get worse if plans to close ticket offices go ahead.

Southastern added "cycle hubs" at some stations which is a great idea, basically a locked facility that you can pay £50/year for access to. Not at all stations though, especially remote ones that even now are unmanned for much of the day. 

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HLaB | 7 months ago
1 like

Some time next year my office is moving right next to a train station (instead of the current 11mile hilly cycle).  I live very close to the train station at the other end at the moment but I'd like to move further away.  I had thought about cycling to the station and parking the bike there to avoid the hassle of taking a full size bike on what can be a busy commuter train (a London line) but after reading this, I think I won't be looking to move too far from the station and I'll continue taking my full size bike on until I can save up for a decent folder (I wouln't want to move too far away and cycle a folder).

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Dnnnnnn replied to HLaB | 7 months ago
1 like

Might be a case for a 'beater bike' and an extra lock you leave at the station (rather than lugging around everywhere). And no QRs!

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polainm replied to Dnnnnnn | 6 months ago
0 likes

Let's convert this idea into Sunakism. "So, you've worked hard and bought a Turbo GT Wankpanzer 4.0L and you want to park it at the train station? Well, bad idea, as many cars are stolen from the station car park each week, and the train operator/police aren't interested in just cars being nicked, so I suggest you get a barely legal old banger and use that instead. OK?"

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