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Victims call for more police at hotspot for violent bikejacking gangs targeting "list" of high-value bikes

One cyclist — targeted by motorbike-riding bikejackers while riding a £15,000 Pinarello Dogma — said it is "normally the same three brands: Pinarello, Bianchi and S-Works", with Brompton also reportedly writing to the Met Police commissioner urging action...

Victims of violent London bikejackings in the area surrounding Regent's Park, believed to be the work of violent gangs shipping the high-value bicycles to Russia, have urged the Metropolitan Police to station more officers at the crime hotspot.

Two months on from new figures revealing that there are two bikejackings a day taking place across London as a whole, cyclists who use the quiet, and at some times traffic-free roads of Regent's Park, have recalled even more incidents of violent attacks by criminals targeting high-value bicycles in the surrounding area.

Speaking to The Times, a 49-year-old man who was riding a £15,000 Pinarello Dogma on his way to the park at around 5am in mid-December explained how he was approached "when two guys idled up to me on a motorbike and one said to the other, "'It's on the list'."

Scott said he felt "targeted" as he had no trouble when riding his other bike, worth £1,000, and is in Facebook groups where other bikejackings have been reported. "It's normally the same three brands: Pinarello, Bianchi and S-Works," he suggested.

"The police told me there had been a significant number of bike-jackings at that time in the morning. It's dark and cyclists are vulnerable. My understanding from groups [is] there's been about eight to ten taken in about a month. I've ridden all over the world and it's not an issue in other countries — it seems to be prevalent here," he said.

> "Copycat" moped mugger kicks cyclist into fence, threatens to stab him, and steals bike in yet another violent bikejacking

"They told me to 'get off the f***ing bike' and tried to force me off the road. I fell off and a car stopped and opened the door. I threw my bike in and jumped in and the guys continued to ride around the car shouting, 'Get out the f***ing car'. It was pretty scary. They continued to wait outside the car yelling at us and then a security guard came by and they took off."

It has been reported that "several British cycling organisations, including the bike manufacturer Brompton" are preparing a letter to Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, to urge a greater police presence in the area to deter criminals.

Such incidents in the English capital and its bordering counties are nothing new, numerous similar reported over the past few years, perhaps the most high-profile that involving professional cyclist Alexandar Richardson who was was knocked off and dragged for 100 metres by muggers on motorbikes who threatened him with a machete as he trained in south-west London's Richmond Park.

Alexandar Richardson.PNG

Last April a teenager, who was 15 at the time of the attack, was sentenced to 12 months for his role in the attack. However, the police reports from Regent's Park suggest bikejackings there have become the speciality of organised gangs, rather than the, in some cases, apparently opportunistic criminal acts of youths reported in other parts of London and Kent.

> Shocking footage shows cyclist threatened by moped-riding attackers in latest bikejacking attempt

The cyclist who jumped into a car to avoid having his Pinarello Dogma stolen said he heard the robbers look at his bike and say "this is on the list", suggesting they are targeting specific high-value bicycles, often targeting riders in or on their way to Regent's Park to use the roads between 5am and 7am, when it is closed to car drivers.

The Times compared the robberies to similar crimes committed by "Rolex ripper" gangs targeting high-value watches in London, and reported that bikejacking victims had been told by the police that they believed the robberies are being carried out by an Albanian gang that is shipping the bikes to Russia, where high-end bikes are difficult to obtain due to sanctions.

"An incredibly frightening experience"

Another victim explained how his £5,000 Cannondale was taken while he cycled to Regent's Park at around 6.15am in November.

"I've been cycling to Regent's Park for years but never had an issue. I've heard about problems increasing recently," Simon Fox said. "Three guys on a motorbike drove past me slowly and looked me up and down. I turned off down a residential street but they turned around the wrong way on a dual-carriageway and followed me. I got off the bike and one of them gave me an almighty push.

"One grabbed my bike and ran off and the others were pushing me and shoving me. They told me to empty my pockets and took my phone. It was an incredibly frightening experience and now I do not cycle early in the morning."

Another cyclist lost his Brompton near King's Cross in December during an attack which saw him punched and kicked.

"A moped drew up alongside me. The two men looked down at the logo of the Brompton, and I immediately realised I was in trouble," he recalled. "I turned down a side street close to my home and the moped drew alongside me. They cut in front to block my path and there was a stand-off.

"I was then struck to the side of the left eye. The passenger also gestured as if to pull a knife from his jacket. I was on the ground with the bike on top of me — I was kicked in the left side of the head and then repeatedly in the lower back. The driver of the moped then joined in."

The national police lead for cycle crime reduction, Titus Halliwell, insisted "we're not being dismissive of these problems and are very keen to get it resolved".

"We could do more but figures show cycle thefts are coming down. We have finite resources and are in the process of collecting data so we can best deploy our limited but capable resources," he claimed.

Last month we reported that analysis of Home Office data showed nine in 10 bike theft cases reported to the police since 2019 went unsolved, with the Liberal Democrats warning that bike theft has effectively been "decriminalised".

Bike theft hotspot sign (Bikmo)

Of all bike thefts reported to the police since 2019, 89 per cent (more than 365,000) have gone unsolved, the analysis of Home Office data showed, pointing to more than eight reported bike thefts an hour and 200 per day going unsolved in England and Wales over the past four years.

> Cycling UK hails "clever" policing after bait bicycle used to track down £130,000 bike theft gang in one shift

A Freedom of Information request made by the Telegraph at the back end of last year found that in the year to November 2023 there were 768 robberies of bicycles reported, equating to two incidents a day.

Anecdotally too, bikejacking incidents appear to have become more prevalent in recent times, not just in London. Numerous incidents involving moped-riding criminals targeting lone riders in the lanes of Kent were reported over the past three years, pro cyclist Jennifer George saying she no longer rides alone after being subject to two bikejacking attempts.

> Cyclist suffers shocking injuries as hooded gang steals £12,500 Specialized and beats victim

The situation got so bad that in the summer of 2022 British Cycling said it was "deeply concerned" by the rise in violent bikejackings across south London, with policy manager Nick Chamberlin publishing a response to outline the issue, telling members what British Cycling is doing and offering advice. 

Chamberlin said: "We have heard from lots of clubs and individuals who are rightly very concerned about going out for a ride. It is extremely hard to discuss these sorts of issues without causing panic and the last thing any of us would wish is to deter people from cycling this summer through a fear of being attacked.

"The sad reality however is that when these spikes in violent crime occur, and while we try to understand the pattern of incidents better, it is prudent for individuals, clubs and groups to discuss these concerns together and think carefully about the rides they have planned.

"As with the incidents that occurred in Richmond Park last year, we know that by working together as a cycling community to quickly pass relevant information to the police we can support them to quickly and effectively tackle the issue." 

Around the same time, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said he believes criminals are attracted towards 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.

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11 comments

Avatar
Capt Sisko | 1 month ago
0 likes

The sad thing is that it's us 'real' cyclists that are buying these stolen bikes. Sure a BSO stolen from a bike rack will change hands for a few pounds to people who just want a hack to ride to work & back on and you're average 'it's just a push bike' bod doesn't know what a Pinarello, Bianchi or S-Works is let alone have the desire to want to own a racer. That type of top end bike is only going to be sold to the enthusiast, i.e. us lot.

Avatar
Sriracha | 1 month ago
2 likes

That photo of the "Bike Theft Hot-spot" warning attached to the Cycle Parking is rather sad. It's basically an admission that the two terms are interchangeable in meaning, that parking your bike is asking for it to be stolen.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX replied to Sriracha | 1 month ago
0 likes

Sriracha wrote:

That photo of the "Bike Theft Hot-spot" warning attached to the Cycle Parking is rather sad. It's basically an admission that the two terms are interchangeable in meaning, that parking your bike is asking for it to be stolen.

Yes, it also seems to be an admission that the authorities are not going to do anything about it.

Avatar
mallardz | 1 month ago
1 like

I recently started cycling around Regent's Park again after a year or so's hiatus and I noticed there did seem to be an increased police presence which I put down to the bike jacking stories that we've all heard about. Last week I must have seen the police pass at least a couple of times an hour, there were a couple of police motorbike riders hanging out near the zoo and I even flagged a police van down after some numpties were doing laps of the inner circle in a sports car at what felt like close to 50mph. Ironically I'd just chased them away by ostentatiously filming them with my phone as they passed and when they pulled over to confront me I pretended to call the police and they scarpered. The police van showed up less than a minute later, so if I hadn't done anything they probably would have been caught!

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to mallardz | 1 month ago
2 likes

More likely, I would hazard a guess, the increased police presence is due to the heightened international security situation and the presence in the park of both the US ambassador's residence and possibly the most important mosque in the UK, not to mention the residences of a number of the world's wealthiest Arab families. Perhaps I'm being too cynical but if the police are devoting the resources you describe to combating cycle crime that would be a big turnaround for them. Of course maybe they are killing two or more birds with one stone.

Avatar
wtjs | 1 month ago
1 like

Please, get that video to us! 

Avatar
Boofus | 1 month ago
4 likes

The police don't do anything. I was sucker punched by an angry driver in Crystal Palace three weeks ago. Cuts, bruises and a concussion, broken rear derailleur and hanger, and all of it on camera including number plate. Police have done NOTHING 

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Boofus | 1 month ago
0 likes

Please define nothing?   Did you report it as an assault or as a road traffic offense?

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Boofus replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
7 likes

Assault - being punched in the back of the head clearly isn't a driving offence. 

By nothing, I mean nothing. Not heard a peep from them in three weeks. 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Boofus | 1 month ago
6 likes

Boofus wrote:

Assault - being punched in the back of the head clearly isn't a driving offence. 

By nothing, I mean nothing. Not heard a peep from them in three weeks. 

If you are so inclined, chase them up and politely add to the end of your email/message, "I understand that you may be extremely busy at this time so if you are unable to pursue this matter kindly supply me with the name and contact details of your immediate superior officer with whom I can discuss the reasons for this inability." It's amazing how quickly they react!

Avatar
wtjs replied to Rendel Harris | 1 month ago
6 likes

It's amazing how quickly they react!

Well, I hope you are amazed but my experience with the police is that once they have decided to bin the case they won't reply whatever you do

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