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London and South Wales are England’s biggest bike theft hotspots

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Posted
16 APRIL 2024
4 min read
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Whether it’s to save on transport costs or to reduce emissions, people in the UK are increasingly swapping cars and public transport for bikes. In 2022, 7.6 million people cycled in England alone, whether for sport, leisure, or travel. But, with an average of over 77,000 bikes stolen each year, many cyclists are at risk of losing this method of transportation.

With this in mind, our home insurance team has conducted research utilising the latest available statistics on bike theft spanning from 2022-2023, to identify which locations in the UK experience the most bike thefts. The research has also allowed us to predict which locations are at the most and least risk of having their bikes stolen in 2024.

The UK’s bike theft hotspots in 2024

Based on data from previous years, London is predicted to see the highest number of bike thefts in 2024. With around 1.26 million daily cycle journeys in England’s capital alone, it’s unsurprising that the likelihood of bike theft is the highest here. Cases of theft in the city are estimated to rise to 16,551 in 2024.

South Wales follows in second place with a predicted 1,729 bike thefts in 2024 and Northumbria ranks third, where cases of theft are estimated to be around 1,518 in 2024.

Rank Location Overall bike theft probability score Predicted bike theft levels in 2024 Predicted bike thefts per 1,000 people in 2024
1 London 4.5 16,551 1.9
2 South Wales 4.0 1,729 5.8
3 Northumbria 3.4 1,518 4.7
4 Gwent 2.4 223 3.3
5 North Wales 2.3 223 3.3
6 Leicestershire 2.1 1,690 2.3
7 Cambridgeshire 1.8 1,384 2.0
8 Thames Valley 1.8 3,124 1.3
9 Dorset 1.7 765 2.0
10 North Yorkshire 1.7 1,096 1.8

UK locations with the lowest risk of bike theft

At the other end of the scale, cyclists in Dyfed-Powys, in Wales, are the least at risk of having their bikes stolen, with just 144 thefts predicted for 2024.

Following in second place is Cleveland, with 684 bike thefts forecasted for 2024, and Devon and Cornwall ranks third, with 477 predicted thefts.

Rank Location Overall bike theft probability score Predicted bike theft levels in 2024 Predicted bike thefts per 1,000 people in 2024
1 Dyfed-Powys 0.7 144 0.3
2 Cleveland 0.8 684 0.3
3 Devon and Cornwall 0.8 477 0.3
4 Suffolk 0.8 308 0.4
5 Cumbria 0.8 218 0.4
6 Warwickshire 0.9 369 0.6
7 West Mercia 0.9 643 0.6
8 Derbyshire 0.9 505 0.6
9 West Midlands 0.9 1,587 0.3
10 Bedfordshire 0.9 461 0.7

UK areas with the highest increase in bike theft

West Mercia saw the highest increase in bike theft between 2022 and 2023, with cases rising by 13.7% and a total of 1,515 cases of bike theft reported during this time.

The next location is Northamptonshire, having experienced a 13.2% increase, only slightly behind West Mercia, though a lower number of bike thefts were reported, at 1,000 overall.

South Wales suffered the third-highest increase in thefts, rising by 12.7% between 2022 and 2023. Though, interestingly, the overall number of bike theft cases reported in 2022 and 2023 is a lot higher than the top two locations, with 3,628 cases in total.

Rank Location Percentage increase from 2022 - 2023 Total Number of bike theft cases reported in 2022 and 2023
1 West Mercia 13.7% 1,515
2 Northamptonshire 13.2% 1,000
3 South Wales 12.7% 3,628
4 Durham 12.0% 831
5 Lancashire 10.6% 2,413

Expert tips for keeping your bike safe

1. Choose a safe place to park and store your bike

Keep your bike inside when at home. When out and about, try to keep your bike in a place where there are CCTV cameras present, and avoid keeping it in quiet areas where your bike might be more vulnerable.

2. Use high-quality locks

Investing in a high-quality bike lock ensures less chance of theft. Locks made of strong materials like steel are more challenging to cut or break. Try to use two locks where you can, and fix your bike to a sturdy structure that would be difficult to break.

3. Register with the National Cycle Database

If you are unfortunate enough to have your bike stolen, and it is recovered by police, they can identify that the bike belongs to you.

Which is the right insurance policy for you?

There are a few things to consider when insuring your bike to make sure you have the right cover:

Is your bike already covered by your home insurance policy?
Before you organise separate cover, find out if your home insurance policy includes coverage for bikes. Some insurers offer protection for bikes as standard, but make sure to check whether this extends to when you’re out of the house, as some providers only cover bikes when they are damaged in the home.

Check if you need to declare your bike, and that you meet any specific conditions to be eligible for cover.

Do you have the right cover for your bike?
Check your policy details to see if the cover is right for you. Ideally, your policy should cover bikes that are kept in the home, as well as when you’re using your bike out and about. It is important to also consider cover for theft, vandalism or any potential accidents while you’re travelling around.

What will you receive if you claim?
Each insurer is different: some might replace your bike, while others might offer money to buy a new one. You’re likely to have to pay an excess fee towards the cost of your claim, so make sure to clarify that this excess is affordable for you to avoid any unexpected costs.

Methodology and sources

Using government bike theft statistics, we investigated bike theft hotspots using bike theft levels in the UK from 2022 and 2023, and predicted bike theft hotspots for 2024.

To discover the location with the most bike thefts, we calculated a final probability score out of 10 based on the following metrics:

  • The number of police recorded crimes, percentage change from the previous year and rate per 1,000 population by offence group, firearms, knife and sharp instrument, fraud and anti-social behaviour offences by Police Force Areas
  • Locations and corresponding crime numbers are separated by police force rather than strictly geographical location/city. Metropolitan Police and City of London were combined to get data for London.
  • Population for each area covered by the police force
  • Bike theft probability score out of 10 is the average of the predicted levels of bike theft overall and predicted levels per capita.
  • To calculate bike theft predictions in 2024, we analysed each location’s population, and the number of bicycle thefts reported by the relevant police force (2019 - 2023) to calculate a final probability score out of 10.

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