Bicycle thefts soar in South West boroughs with Sutton being the most affected

Police data has revealed which London boroughs have been hit hardest by rising bike crime, with the South West being worst affected. Sutton is the borough with the greatest year-on-year increase at almost one-third (32%), followed by Hounslow (25%) and Bexley (13%).

In London, just 1.1% of all bike thefts lead to a formal sanction, including a suspect being charged or receiving a caution. This figure was the same in the 20/21 data suggesting that police are struggling to tackle the issue.

The boroughs where you’re least likely to identify a bike thief this year are Havering (0%), Croydon (0%) and Camden (0.03%), with just under 1 in 300 thieves being caught in these areas.

The data was collated by London criminal defence solicitors Lawtons in October 2022 and reveals statistics from September 2021 to September 2022. This analysis comes after a recent investigation by the Daily Telegraph, which found that in 87% of the 24,000 UK neighbourhoods that reported bicycle theft in the last three years, not a single case was ever solved*.

The five London boroughs that have seen the greatest increase in bike thefts are:

Sutton – 32%
Hounslow – 25%
Bexley – 13%
Kingston Upon Thames – 7%
Havering – 5%
Other areas that typically have higher rates of the crime experienced a fall. The borough of Waltham Forest reported a 45% decrease this year, compared to last year, when it featured among the top five boroughs for the crime. Haringey experienced the second-largest drop with 34%, followed by Enfield (34%) and Lewisham (33%).

With only 1.1% of bike thefts resulting in prosecution, criminals are taking advantage of what is now considered a ‘low-risk’ crime. Even those affected think the same way, with three-quarters of British people feeling that the police ‘don’t even bother’ investigating the crime**.

Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at London law firm Lawtons Solicitors, says:

“One major contributing factor to the increase in bike theft is that it’s just so easy for criminals to get away with the offence. We are seeing from this year’s data that the boroughs that were heavily impacted by crime last year have been able to reduce the problem, which we are now seeing spread to the South West boroughs.

“Unfortunately, suspects aren’t being identified because there’s usually no relationship between themselves and the victim and it’s a relatively low-priority crime for the police to pursue. On top of this, owners often don’t document the ownership of their bike, making it difficult to prosecute even if the perpetrator is caught.

“It’s essential that you register your bike to help you recover it in the case of theft. Keep your receipt, make a record of the serial number and register your bike with a bicycle marking and registration scheme. This will enable the police to trace your bike back to you if it is stolen and recovered.”