Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in the last year or so, it’s been hard not to notice an increasing amount of local people complaining that they have been a victim of bike theft.

A close friend of mine recently had her second bike stolen within a year, from the Southend-on-Sea area, whilst out working her rounds as a support worker for the local community.  The first time, her bike lock had been ripped apart. She invested in a decent bike lock and a new bike. She then unwittingly locked the bike to a drainpipe at the side of a client’s house, which was promptly ripped from the wall by an opportunistic thief and ridden away.

Almost 2 weeks later and she is still waiting for someone from the police station to call her back, in order to take the details of the theft and give her a police incident number. In reality it’s likely that the bike, a Carrera, has long since been sold on and she will never receive that phone call.

The fact that this was the second time that this had happened, combined with the lack of response from the local police urged me to have a look online for any statistics I could find detailing the number of cycle thefts so far, in Southend during 2016. These figures were taken from UK Crime Stats website and detail bike theft in Southend Central only (please check the link for more details, including the defined boundaries). You may also note that these figures go back several years, and although bike theft does seem to peak in the summer, July 2016 is the highest figure recorded.

Jan: 14
Feb: 13
Mar: 19
April: 15
May: 20
June: 31
July: 38

When you consider that these are just the reported bike thefts for quite a small area of Southend, you begin to understand that our town is potentially suffering a growing problem. It’s also a problem that we have to tackle as community, by educating ourselves to become better aware of how to protect our property from being stolen.

There are two types of bike thief, the opportunist and the professional. The easiest picking are bikes secured with cheap locks. You don’t need to buy an expensive lock, but some of the cheap locks being sold are so thin that simply pushing and pulling on them is enough to break them.

CCTV cameras are not much of a deterrent either. The best place to lock your bike is where there are lots of people around. However, if it costs more than a few hundred pounds, always take it indoors when possible.

I spoke to a local, family-run locksmith in Southend, Leigh Lock and Safe, who offered the following advice for cyclists:

“There are a few ways to help keep your bicycle safe from theft. Firstly, always use a lock. It does not have to be an expensive lock, using any lock is better than none. Secondly when storing a bicycle at home or at work, make sure that you can lock the bike to something solid, like a ground or wall anchor. These anchors can be bolted to the floor, wall or even to the inside of your shed or garage. Always make use of street furniture to lock your bike to, posts, park benches or the fixed bicycle racks/stands that are fitted in the town centre and outside the railway stations. If it is possible to keep your bike in sight, then this will definitely help. Remember, lock it or lose it!

Have you had a bike, or parts of your bike, stolen in Southend? Let us know in the comments if you have any more advice for cyclists to keep their property safe!

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