South London emerges as bike theft capital of the UK after lockdown surge

Pedal bike thefts have jumped by two thirds since the coronavirus lockdowns started, with south east and south west London ranking among the top hotspots for thieves.

Figures from Admiral home insurance showed the number of claims for pedal bike thefts increased by 66% between March 2020 and February 2021, compared with the same time period a year earlier.

Analysis of the insurer’s data found that pedal bikes made up nearly a third (32%) of all theft claims since the pandemic started, compared with 14% the previous year.

And London has emerged as the country’s hotspot for bike thefts, with areas in the capital taking the top three spots (below).

David Fowkes, head of household underwriting at Admiral, said: “Since lockdown restrictions were first introduced back in March 2020, thousands of people bought bikes for exercise or just for a safe way to get around, and the popularity of having two wheels to get around has continued into this year.

Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Nick Ansell/PA Wire

“But as several retailers have reported a spike in bike sales, our data suggests it’s also resulted in a boom in the number of bicycle thefts taking place too.

“In fact, in the first few weeks after lockdown restrictions were put in place, we saw a spike in the number of bike theft claims, and sadly this figure has continued to rise”.

The average value of claims for stolen pedal bikes during the pandemic has been £580. At the start of 2021, just after Christmas, bikes worth more than £1,500 were the most popular high-value items added to Admiral home insurance policies.

London is the top pedal bike theft hotspot, followed by Edinburgh and Bristol, Admiral said.

Here are the top locations for pedal bike thefts reported to Admiral:

Woman cycling past a rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Woman cycling past a rainbow graffiti in support of the NHS in Soho, central London. Victoria Jones/PA Wire

1. South-west London

2. East London

3. South-east London

4. Edinburgh

5. Bristol

6. North London

7. Southampton

8. Kingston upon Thames

9. Brighton

10. Cambridge

Here are Admiral’s tips to keep your bike safe from thieves:

– Always use your bike lock when you leave it unattended away from home, even if it is just for a few seconds.

– Lock your bike to a solid, immoveable object such as railings or a bike rack.

– Make sure your bike is locked in a well-lit, preferably busy area covered by CCTV.

– Never leave your bike unsecured outside your home, even on your own property.

– At home, always lock your bike away when it is not being used, and make sure there is a strong lock if it is in a shed or outbuilding.

– Register your bike with national schemes.

– Take photographs of your bike, including any distinctive marks or features on it, just in case the worst happens.

Surrey Comet | Kingston