This article was published in 2019, in Magazine 144.
In August, the BBC reported on British Transport Police (BTP) statistics gathered about cycle theft at various stations around the UK. In it we learned that Cambridge North comes second only to Barming (Kent) in having the highest rates of cycle theft per 100,000 passengers. In the past three years there were sixty bikes recorded as stolen at Cambridge North over an annual footfall close to 500,000. This is clearly a major problem. However, when looking further we discovered that the data for the main Cambridge railway station contains a shock: there have been only six bike thefts recorded over the past three years! Could it be so secure? Or, in fact, are the data severely flawed? For one thing, we know that much bike theft goes unreported for various reasons. For another, we know that the main railway station cycle park is under the jurisdiction of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary, not BTP, which means the data source is questionable.
Here at Camcycle we know firsthand that there are many more bike thefts happening at the station than the BBC has reported because every month we receive and respond to emails from members and non-members about incidences of bike theft at the station. We’ve obtained permission to reproduce some of their stories.
Mr William Orme wrote: thieves stole my wife’s brand new £350 Giant hybrid bike while we were on a day trip to London, on 6 December 2018. I had chained the bike up to the two-tier bike racks on the first floor of the Cycle Point bike park at around 10.30am. It was gone when we got back at 6.45pm. Station staff told me to report it to BTP, which I did. They replied a few days later saying that it was under Cambridgeshire Police jurisdiction. So, we reported the theft to them and the same day the response came that they would not investigate because there were ‘no viable lines of enquiry’.
My e-bike was stolen from the cycle park on 23 July. The police gave me a crime number but were not interested in seeing evidence. My bike kept my lupus symptoms under control. I miss it terribly
After calling them on the telephone we were told to chase Greater Anglia for CCTV footage of the theft. However, Greater Anglia replied that they could not provide the footage unless the request was from the police. Two weeks later we managed to convince the police to send an e-mail requesting the CCTV footage from Greater Anglia, but nothing has been heard since.
Mr Orme continues: the latest bike to be stolen was my son’s bike, also securely chained with a good lock to the two-tier bike racks. After an overnight stay in London he returned the next day – 7 July – to find his bike gone. Reporting the bike stolen to Cambridgeshire Police he was told to wait three hours at the police station or use the on-line form. He chose the on-line form, submitted it on 8 July, and the same day got a ‘case closed with no viable lines of enquiry’ response.
Ms Gabriela Garcia wrote: my e-bike was stolen from the cycle park in Cambridge station on 23 July. Cambridgeshire Police gave me a crime number but were not interested in seeing the evidence that I had or looking into the three CCTV cameras that surrounded my bike, because they have no resources. They told me that if I want to look into obtaining the camera footage and catch the thieves, then I need to make my own enquiries and update them when I find the thieves. This was very upsetting: what is the point of having the cycle park if nobody is in charge? Cambridge Cycle Point is heaven for thieves! My bike helps me to get through the day and keeps my lupus symptoms under control. I miss it terribly.