Bike thefts are becoming increasingly common as thieves cash in on those who have dumped their cars, for more eco-friendly cycles.
Figures released last year by Halifax Home Insurance showed that a bike was stolen somewhere in the UK every 71 seconds. A total of 440,000 bikes were stolen last year and there is an increasing worry that the figures for 2007 will be higher still when released next month.
This is because local authority police figures in many areas are showing an increase in thefts across the board. Government figures for Hertfordshire for example have increased by 30 per cent since 2001, with reports of similar increases in Lancashire, Essex, Somerset and Cambridgeshire to list a few. Loughborough is one of the few places in the country to have reported a fall in bike thefts, with a drop of 20% from 2006.
A major factor in this has been the pilot of an electronic tagging scheme for bikes that allows them to be traced easily if stolen. The electronic tag is inserted into the frame of the bike and cannot be removed. Each tag has a unique serial number and details of this number, and the registered owner, are held on a national database. The tag can be read by portable readers which are kept by the police. A warning label is displayed on the bike frame to deter thieves.
This is being viewed as a cheaper alternative to specialist bike insurance by students who can not afford premiums and any cover arranged would normally only cover them from their home address. The Police offered the pilot for free as an improvement on the traditional deterrent that involved engraving the owner’s postcode on the frame. This could be easily removed.
Bikes are appealing to thieves because people do not take the care to secure them in the same way as a car and their smaller size makes theft harder to trace. The Government desperately wants people to get out of their cars and does not want people feeling that they have to take out separate bike insurance or add the bikes to their home insurance because in most cases, bikes should be cheap, disposable forms of transport that should have minimal financial risk.
That is fine if you damage a bike, because unlike a car repairs are very cheap and insurance will rarely come into the equation. Halfords insurance scheme offers free repairs if you should damage your bike purchased from them and you take out an additional policy. Theft is different, as some bikes can now cost in excess of £1000 and replacing such desirable bikes frequently under a policy system will inevitably push up premiums for the rest of us.
The government issues the following advice for bike insurance, they say: “When buying a bike, budget for security. Take out insurance, either by extending your home contents insurance or through a separate policy. Cycling organisations and bike shops may offer specialist cover. Do this at the time of purchasing the bike, otherwise you may not get around to it.”
Investing in insurance today still offers the best value to protect against theft, but prevention is better than cure so always have a good quality d-lock fitted.