December 6 2013 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Friday, August 30, 2013
Police in Norwich have today launched an innovative bid to help cut bike thefts in the city which have already cost cyclists more than £94,000 this year alone.
A 64 second YouTube video – called #ProperLockIt – highlights how quickly and easy stealing a bike can be if it is not secured with a decent lock. It aims to encourage cyclists to think more about security by showing the speed and ease at which cycles can be stolen.
So far this year 377 bikes have been stolen from the streets in Norwich, which equates to £94,250 worth of bikes, working on an average of £250 per cycle.
Norwich Policing Commander, Superintendent Dave Marshall, said although startling, the figure was still a “conservative” estimate and urged people who bring their bikes into the city – and also those that leave them unsecured at home – to watch the video and think about how they can increase their security and reduce their chances of being a victim of crime.
He said: “The video highlights the ease at which a bike can be stolen, if it’s secured with a poor quality lock. It literally takes seconds….if that.
“Quite often offenders will be so brazen that passers-by wouldn’t necessarily realise a crime is taking place. They [ the thieves] don’t walk around with stripy tops on. We would recommend using a heavy-duty bike lock, similar to a D-lock, and certified by Sold Secure.”
The footage shows the victim securing her bike to a lamppost with a plastic wire lock while all the time she is being watched by a thief, played by Norwich East officer, PC Dave Block.
As the victim walks off the thief makes his move, checking he’s not being watched before getting hold of the handle bars and seat and using brute force to rip the bike from the lamppost.
The crime is carried out in seconds and the lock snaps with ease, offering no challenge to the thief who casually walks away from the scene of the crime.
The video has been launched as part of Operation Fusion – a high-visibility campaign aimed at tackling bike thefts – which sees targeted patrols carried out in theft hotspots and officers stopping anyone with a bike who they believe to be suspicious, checking for proof of ownership.
Several arrests have been made as part of the operation with suspects charged and convicted of theft offences.
In 2011, 728 bikes were stolen from streets in the city compared to 635 in 2012 and 377 so far this year which is on target to see further reductions, although Supt Marshall is determined that both the police and the public work together to do what they can to drive that down further.
He said: “We carry out regular patrols in the city centre and are constantly on the look-out for bike thieves but we need cyclists to be more security conscious.
“It is easy to forget than some bikes can be worth several hundred pounds and would cost a lot to replace. With this in mind it’s worth investing in a decent lock. It makes no sense securing a bike worth £200-£300 with a chain lock which costs £2-£3.”
The city centre, where most bikes are left by those visiting, working and living in Norwich, is a particular bike theft hot spot, but Supt Marshall said people also need to be vigilant when they leave their bikes at home as thieves will also take cycles from driveways.
The University of East Anglia (UEA) has also been targeted by cycle thieves but Supt Marshall said police work closely with the university to improve security through a number of different crime prevention events, including a concerted drive during Freshers Week.
Supt Marshall said anyone who has had their bike stolen, or who is offered a bike for sale at a suspiciously low price, should contact police on 101.
PC Block, who appears as the ‘thief’ in the video, said bike owners should try to spend as “much as they can” on bike security as purchasing cheap locks was unlikely to deter thieves.
He said: “If you can spend £40 on a lock it will be well worth it and better that than the sheer disappointment of losing your bike.”
Other top tips for cycle security include:
• Avoid isolated or dimly lit places – leave your bike where a potential thief will be clearly visible.
• If yours is a very expensive bike, don’t lock it in the same place on a regular basis – so it won’t be noticed and stolen to order.
• Lock your bike through an immovable object – use a proper bike rack, ground anchor or robust street furniture. • Make the lock or chain hard to manoeuvre when parked.
• Keep the gap between the bike and lock small.
To view video log onto www.eveningnews24.co.uk.