Over 300,000 bicycles were reported stolen in 2017. Bikes are most likely to be stolen from home, during the week in the afternoon (noon to 6 pm) or during the night (midnight to 6 am). We analysed data from the Office of National Statistics to learn more about when your bike is most at risk of theft. Read on to find out more, or for additional statistics on bicycle popularity and safety please see our Bicycle Statistics article.
- Where do Bicycles Thefts Occur?
- When are Bicycles Most Stolen?
- Are Bikes Usually Locked When They're Stolen?
Where Bicycles Thefts Occur
The majority of bicycles are stolen from near the home, specifically outside areas on the premises, garages or car parks around but not connected to the home. For the period ending March 2018, 54% of pedal cycle thefts occurred from these "semi-private" home areas. Another 10% of bicycles were nabbed from grounds of a public place, including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres, schools, colleges, universities, pubs, bars, working mens clubs, places of entertainment, nightclubs, sports centres and football grounds.
|Locations of Bicycle Thefts|
|Street at work||2%|
|Other car park||3%|
|Work car park||5%|
|Street at home||6%|
|Grounds of a public place||10%|
When Bicycles Are Stolen
If you think that most bikes are stolen during the night—you're pretty much right. In 2018, 22% of bike thefts occurred during the night, from midnight to 6 am. However, an equal proportion of bicycles were stolen during the afternoon between noon and 6 pm. Morning is the time of day when your bike is least likely to be snatched.
|Morning/afternoon (unsure which)||10%|
|Evening/night (unsure which)||14%|
The ONS reported that 28% of bicyles were stolen at the weekend and 72% during the week. But when is your pedal cycle most likely to go on walkabout? Standardizing the ONS figures according to the number of days in each group of time (2.5 days for the weekend and 4.5 days during the week) shows us that more thefts occur on weekdays. That is, 11% of bikes are stolen every 24 hours during the weekend, but 16% of bikes are stolen per 24 hours during the week.
|When are Bikes Most Likely to be Stolen?|
|Proportion of Bikes Stolen by Period of Week|
|At the weekend (Friday 6 pm to Monday 6 am)||28%|
|During the week (Monday 6 am to Friday 6 pm)||72%|
Proportion of Bikes Stolen per 24 hrs
|At the weekend||11%|
|During the week||16%|
Are Bicycles Usually Locked When They're Stolen?
While the majority of bicycles which are stolen were left unlocked, a whopping 45% of stolen bicycles were locked at the time of theft. In that case, either the lock would have been broken, the cable/chain cut or the front wheel removed and left in the lock (for example, if the cable/chain only went through the front tire). Try to keep your bicycle safe by taking a few precautions:
- Always lock your pedal cycle (even if it's stored in a locked garage or outbuilding)
- Locking not just through the wheel but also through part of the frame
- Using cable that cannot be cut
- Lock your bicycle to a secure object that cannot be moved or lifted
The actual number of stolen pedal cycles in the UK is impossible to know, as a significant proportion of stolen bicycles are never reported to the police. While you might feel like bicycle theft is rampant in the UK, there's one place that likely experiences higher rates of bicycle theft: Amsterdam, where around 30,000 bikes were stolen last year and where there are apparently more bicycles than people!
If you're worried about your bike being stolen, you may decide you need specialist bicycle insurance.