Police in Bradford have given security advice to cyclists after it was revealed that a black market in stolen bicycles could be worth as much as £58 million nationwide.
A national survey of riders found that a fifth have had their bikes stolen and one in 20 had been the victims of thieves three or more times.
Nearly a third said their bike was stolen from their shed or garage; a fifth from their drive; and one in ten had their bike stolen either from outside their office or a bar or restaurant.
Insurance firm LV=, which carried out the survey, said that with cycling growing in popularity many people do not ask about the background of a second-hand model.
The company’s managing director of home insurance John O’Roarke said: “Bike theft is a growing problem in the UK, with thieves easily able to sell on bikes second hand. Cyclists should ask about a bike’s history before buying it.”
British Transport Police in Yorkshire recently released a rogue’s gallery of suspects after a spate of bike thefts at railway stations, including one at Forster Square station in Bradford last June. The victim had secured his bike to a cycle rack next to the booking office and was walking into Bradford city centre when the thief cycled past on his bike.
Another incident occurred at the station in September when a 32-year-old cyclist again secured his bike to the cycle rack, but returned to find his bike and lock had gone.
BTP officers target theft hotspots and have arrested more than 60 thieves in 12 months with the help of CCTV.
Chief Inspector Derek O’Mara said: “Cycle thieves will travel to commit a crime, so although a theft may not have taken place at your local station, you may know the person who has committed it.
“Wherever possible, leave your bike in a busy, well-lit area which is covered by CCTV.”
In the Bradford district, there were 27 bike thefts, excluding burglaries, in October, 19 in November and 14 in December. A Bradford Police spokesman said: “Although we have not experienced a particular trend of thefts in the district, bike owners should always consider basic security steps.
“Store it out of sight and think about investing in an alarm or security light.
“A postcode stamp on your frame can also go a long way to making it unattractive to opportunist thieves.
“If you are leaving it unattended in public, look to use cycle parking provisions where possible. Always ensure you use a locking cable and that accessories cannot be removed.
“If your bike is of high value, do not advertise this to others as it could also increase the possibility of it being targeted.”