A Hungarian thief busting film crew travelled to London to get one question answered:
How effective is the UK police force at combating bicycle theft?
This is exactly what the crew discovered, when they setup a bike fitted with a GPS tracker in Hackney.
As the YouTube video reveals, the bicycle which was secured with a flimsy lock was stolen within a few hours.
The stolen bike was then tracked via a GPS tracker (one that we’ll be reviewing soon on London Cyclist) and found in a block of flats in Haggerston.
(See also: How to get your bike stolen)
The film crew then travelled to the location and called the police. Fifty minutes later a car arrived. The crew notes that this is twice the time it takes a police car to arrive in Budapest.
After spending half an hour checking the details of the individuals, they initially refused to take any action. Eventually, they agreed to knock on some of the flats.
Unfortunately, they didn’t get any results, as the film crew was not allowed to follow them in with their radio beacon which could accurately pinpoint a location. In the mean time, the bike was moved to another flat.
This time the police outright refused to help and left the crew to take matters in to their own hands.
The film crew bravely knocked on another flat and after a vague explanation from the residents, they recovered their bike.
Could the police have acted differently?
It has to be noted that the police don’t have the ability to enter and search any private property they choose. They rightly need a court order.
Perhaps if this was during the daytime, the police may have been more helpful. If for example the stolen bike was spotted being ridden around London, then it may have been easier for the police to intercept the thief.
However, it’s unlikely you’ll have perfect conditions in which to catch a bicycle thief.
This is not about pointing the finger at the individual officers involved. It is about a frustration felt by cyclists, in the seeming lack of response the police provide to bicycle theft. Is it an issue of priorities? Squeezed budgets? Procedures that need to be revised?
I’d love to hear from any representatives either by email or in the comments below, and I’d be happy to update the article.
As cyclists, we still have the ability to help police by getting our bikes registered in recognised property registration services. The one I believe most often used by police forces is: https://www.bikeregister.com/
We should also always report a stolen bike, as this helps to raise the profile of this type of crime, so that more police budget can be allocated.
GPS: A cyclists best friend?
The film also highlights the value of having a GPS tracker fitted to your bike. The Hungarian film crew uses a product sold by a company called Integrated Trackers which we’ll soon be reviewing on London Cyclist.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.