Bike thefts in Scotland rise by nearly a fifth over lockdown as police warn of organised crime groups targeting pricey custom made bikes

Bike thefts across Scotland have risen by nearly a fifth during lockdown, with police warning that organised crime groups are now targeting more expensive models.

Police launched their national campaign Pedal Protect today in Edinburgh which aims to tackle bike crime and raise awareness of bike security. This will also be supported by British Transport Police at train stations where many bicycles are stored.

Despite an overall drop in acquisitive crimes such as shoplifting, housebreakings and robberies during the pandemic, year to date figures to February show that more than 4,900 reports of stolen bicycles were made - a rise of by 18 percent from the previous year.

Detective Superintendent Matt Paden, Police Scotland acquisitive crime lead, said: “Across Scotland, cycling is a popular form of transport, as well as a recreational past-time and each year the public spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on buying bikes.

Cyclist Mark Beaumont was helping police launch the new Pedal Protect campaign.

“Despite the significant sums of money people spend on a bike, the amount spent on security pales in comparison. Stealing a bike is often seen as an attractive option for those involved in acquisitive crime, as to do so is normally a quick process, with modest security measures in place, easy to overcome.

“While bike theft typically takes place to allow thieves to make a quick sale, we now believe more expensive custom bikes are being targeted by organised crime groups so they can be resold for hefty prices, which fund their criminal operations.

“We have launched Pedal Protect because we will be conducting a range of intelligence-led activity to return stolen bikes to their rightful owners, but also to encourage all of those who currently own, or who are considering buying a bike, to invest in appropriate security.”

Pedal Protect launched at Fettes Police Station on Friday and involved officers highlighted that hundreds of bikes are being handed in across Scotland on a monthly basis, and DS Paden said it is close to 100 a month at Fettes.

DS Paden stressed the importance of registering a bike through the National Cycle Database so that if it is lost or stolen, it can easily be returned, and to insure your bike or its contents. Police advice is to use a ground anchor when storing bicycles in garages or sheds and to lock it in a busy, well lit place if possible. Locking it close to the object to which it’s attached also makes it harder to manoeuvre for thieves.

A range of upcoming bike marking events will be highlighted on the police website and through their social media channels.

Many bike retailers in towns and cities have also agreed to provide Pedal Protect and bike register security information leaflets to customers who purchase a new bike.

DS Paden urged anyone who has had a bike lost or stolen to regularly check with their local policing division and provide all relevant details so that they can return as many recovered bikes as possible, as often cycles are found but no one comes forward to claim them.

Supporting the Pedal Protect campaign is record-breaking Scottish cyclist, Mark Beaumont. He said he has experienced the devastation and distress of having a bike stolen and stressed it’s vital to take all necessary steps to keep your bike safe.

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