Stop! Thief!

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 20.

How secure is your bike? What more could you do to prevent it from being stolen? In Newsletter 16 (February 1998 – Making life easier 4: The sweeter aspect of the sorrow of parting) David Earl discussed the importance of investing in a good U-lock and investigated the types of bike insurance policies available, noting however that,

the best insurance of all is not to lose the bike in the first place, but even the best lock is not going to deter a professional thief.

Worryingly, there have been several bike thefts recently in north Cambridge. If your bike has quick-release wheels or expensive components, it may be at risk from bike-part theft when parked outside, if you only lock the frame to a Sheffield rack or similar.

In one recent incident, a neighbour of mine had the front headset and stem (worth around £600) stolen from a Univega mountain bike. Fortunately the thieves were disturbed before they could remove any other parts. The bike was directly in front of the owner’s third-floor flat, and was locked to the staircase railings. The area was well-lit and clearly visible to the residents of the surrounding blocks of flats, yet the theft occurred between 9.30 pm and 11.30 pm one week-day evening. The day after this theft, two of my neighbour’s friends living nearby had two Kona mountain bikes (worth around £500 each) stolen from a locked shed.

Bike-part theft may not be covered under the terms of some insurance policies, since individual parts are sometimes regarded as accessories. Contact your insurance company if in doubt.

Sarah Elsegood

Clare Macrae adds: We have also heard from a member who lives in a block of flats where bikes can be parked behind two locked gates. She recently left her bike unlocked there for just a couple of minutes, and sadly it was stolen. So take care!