Until now bike thieves have had it fairly good. Not only do they have a big pool of potential targets, many of them badly secured, but they also have a big audience to sell to. Thanks to websites such as eBay and Gumtree they can reach out and make big profits from expensive bikes. While thieves were busy getting rich, cyclists were out of pocket and the police were taking a back foot in stopping the onslaught.
Today this is set to change. A new 30 strong police force will now be guarding London’s bikes. They will be tackling both bike theft as well as vandalism.
As you will have guessed from reading this blog, I’m rarely a negative person. Therefore, my response to this news was to rejoice! My friend on the other hand, who likes to provide me with the negative viewpoint, pointed out that 30 people for the whole of London is hardly enough. But I’ll explain why he is wrong.
By tackling the organised side of the crime and catching a few of the key players you will see a major reduction in bike thefts. As long as these people are properly sentenced. The new team will be using methods such as police stings and covert operations that are likely to target these key players.
There will also be a renewed, and likely much more successful, effort to target thieves selling bikes on websites such as Gumtree and eBay. This will involve working with the websites to make it harder for people to list bikes without their full details and also targeting sellers. By removing the thieves access to a large audience you make it far more difficult for them to sell their stolen bikes.
Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, said:
“London’s a great place to get around on a bike, but the experience of having your bicycle stolen or damaged, or the fear that it will happen, stops many people from cycling – which makes us even more determined to crack down on cycle theft in the Capital.
The new Cycle Task Force policing team will be dedicated to cracking down on bike thieves but will also work with Londoners to show them the steps they can take, such as ensuring they lock their bicycles securely, to help prevent themselves from becoming victims of theft or vandalism.”
Hopefully one day we will be able to secure our bikes with one lock and know for certain it will be there when we return. This police force seems like a very good step in the right direction to achieving this.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.