Social media apps which map your route whilst cycling are believed to contribute to the increased number of high value cycles being stolen in Dorset, police say.
Officers from Dorset Police are encouraging cyclists who enjoy Dorset’s landscape on two wheels to check their settings on certain apps, particularly people who enjoy sharing their journeys over the internet.
Poole’s Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeant, Andy Thompson, said: “We have noticed a rise in the number of high value cycles being stolen recently, particularly from the conurbation, which we believe could be linked to people unwittingly leading thieves to their home addresses due to posting information online.
“However, people are still leaving their bikes unlocked when unattended, which makes the theft a low-risk, high-reward crime in the eyes of a criminal.
“We are urging all cyclists to be mindful of the amount of personal information which they share over the internet and how this can be interpreted by criminals, as data isn’t just accessible to fellow enthusiasts, but to thieves too.
“Changing the privacy settings on an app will make it hard for would-be thieves to pinpoint where the bike is stored when not in use. It takes seconds to do, but can save thousands of pounds, hours of frustration and upset and deny the criminal a ‘quick thrill’ or a sale.”
Since April this year, there have been 481 reports of pedal cycle theft across Dorset, with 124 reports coming from the Poole area (just over 25% of the reports the force receives for cycle crime).
Sgt Thompson continued: “The value and quality of the stolen bikes varies, but in Poole, there is an unusually large number of high value bikes taken, worth an average of £600 each, which equates to an approximate financial loss of £74,400 to the community.”
Areas which have had the most cycles stolen in Poole are: Poole town centre, Oakdale, Ashley Road and Poole Park.
Officers proactively patrol areas which have had cycles stolen and use the Bright Bikes initiative to remind cyclists to secure their property, which also acts as a visible deterrent to criminals.
Sergeant Thompson added: “Doing simple things such as getting your bike marked by your local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) officer, removing bike racks from vehicles when at home, using ground anchors when your cycle is stored away, locking your bike with two different types of locks and when buying a second hand bike and checking the details on Bike Register to make sure it’s not stolen, all help deter thieves from stealing your property.”
SNTs also hold cycle marking events, where they engrave bicycles and register them onto bikeregister.com. An officer can also do this at a time and location suitable for the cyclist.
A 16-year-old Poole boy has been arrested on suspicion of attempted burglary, vehicle interference and possession of an offensive weapon and bailed until the end of October 2015 pending further enquiries and a 25-year-old Ferndown man has been arrested for handling stolen goods. He is answering police bail in mid November.
Top Ten Tips on Keeping Your Cycle Safe:
1. Get your bike security marked by police and register it at www.BikeRegister.com
2. Record details of your bike – take a photo and record the frame and BikeRegister numbers along with any other distinguishing features
3. Use locks of ‘Sold Secure’ gold standard – try to use two different types of lock, with at least one being a high quality D-lock. It takes thieves a few seconds to cut through poor quality locks
4. Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand
5. Make the locks and bike hard to manoeuvre – secure your bike as close to the stand as possible
6. Take parts that are easy to remove with you – for example, saddles and wheels. Or use secure skewers, which can increase security by securing the bike’s components to the frame permanently
7. Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking – it should be well lit and covered by CCTV if possible
8. Take the same care to lock your bike securely at home – many bikes get stolen from communal hallways, gardens and sheds. Take a look at the Pragmasis shed bar. Not all Home Insurance policies cover bicycles – so check yours today
9. Don’t buy a stolen second-hand bike – buying a stolen bike will encourage the thief to steal more, and make other people’s lives a misery. Insist on proof of ownership and check the bike frame number online
10. If your bike has been stolen, contact the Police and Bike Register. Give them your frame number, BikeRegister number, photo and any other relevant details