Avon and Somerset Police have released a video showing an officer posing as a bike thief, stealing bikes in an increasingly overt way. It goes to show how few people pay attention, and even where they do notice, how few call the police.
So what is their advice, and how can you keep your bike safe?
The stuntThe video, released today, stars PCSO Neil Spiring, who locks up a bike and then returns later to steal it - in a number of different ways.
He starts with bolt cutters, in broad daylight, with no attempt to disguise it. He later carried out the experiment with enormous bolt-cutters, and despite saying 'hi' to passers by, and even asking one to hold the bolt cutters, he isn't challenged.
Finally, he returns dressed as a skeleton, rips a bike off its tethering while next to a woman, and walks off unchallenged. The video points out that absolutely none of these crimes were reported, and that the only way that bike thieves will be caught is if people call 999.
Is your bike safe?It also goes to show how easy it is to steal a bike. Clearly, if you leave your possessions in the middle of the street and walk away, then however well they are secured, you are taking a risk to some degree or another. The aim is to reduce the risk as far as possible.
The police force say that the most important thing is a good lock, as a rough rule of thumb you need to spend at least £40 on a lock to get a secure one. At the very least you should buy the best quality lock you can afford. These should never be a combination lock - as keys are far more secure.
Ideally you need to use two different locks, and wind them through the wheel and frame. You also need to think about removable parts: take with you anything that can be removed without tools.
Think about where you lock your bike. Always lock it to an immovable object, don't just lock the frame to the wheel. Leave it in a well-lit public area with other bikes if possible. And don't lock your bike in the same place on a regular basis: it could be stolen to order.
Finally, you need to record and register it. If you register it on the national property database, then if it is ever stolen, police can return it to you. Consider either electronic tagging or use of property marking products.
Plus, of course, take out insurance on your bike. Be sure to cover for thefts away from home, and take a photo of your bike and write a clear description of it for your own records just in case you ever have to make a claim.