Putting the Brakes on Cycle Crime



      Bicycle Crime


Durham Constabulary is working with all the cycle retailers in County Durham and Darlington and in partnership with Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council, Local Motion and the Safe Durham Partnership to significantly reduce cycle crime in our area. With the launch of Operation Spoke we want to make our region a safe place to own a cycle and to help cyclists to enjoy all the area has to offer, safe in the knowledge their cycle is secure.

 Unfortunately bikes with poor security make easy targets for thieves. A significant proportion of bikes stolen in County Durham and Darlington were secured with poor quality locks or not locked or secured in any way. Make sure you don’t become a victim of cycle crime by following our advice on cycle locks, security marking and bike registration.

Cycle thefts could be reduced if people took more care over the security of their bikes. On those occasions when the police do manage to retrieve stolen bikes, it is often very difficult to trace the bike to its original owner or prove ownership. In the majority of thefts the bike has not been registered or security marked and the original owner knows none of its unique markings.

Durham Police working in partnership with local cycle retailers and other partners is aiming to reduce the level of cycle theft with the launch of Operation Spoke.


Security marking Bikes….


By security marking your bike you will greatly increase the chance of the police identifying and returning it if you ever had your cycle stolen. Security marking also acts as a visible deterrent to thieves making the cycle less attractive to steal.


Cycle shops in County Durham and Darlington are working with Durham Constabulary with a joint aim to mark and register every cycle in the county. If you are buying a new cycle from a local retailer please remember to ask them about OPERATION SPOKE cycle marking and registration. Durham Constabulary Neighbourhood Policing Teams and our Partners will be holding cycle marking and registration events throughout the county. To find details of bike marking events in your area look on Cycle Marking Events and News page or contact your local Neighbourhood Team on 101.

The BikeRegister and Immobilise registers are used by all Police Forces in the UK to reunite stolen goods to their owners.

You are also able to register other items of property for FREE, using serial numbers or other identifying numbers such as your house number and postcode which you can mark your property with using a UV marker pen.


Where to Lock Your Bike….


 If you can store your bike inside your home overnight, this is likely to be the safest option. If you have limited space, ask your local bike retailer about in-door space-saving storage solutions



Parking your bike in a shed or garage can be risky, but you can take measures to improve the security. Local retailers sell tough anchors which either bolt directly to the floor or wall or can be installed into concrete. They come complete with the tools you need to install them. ALWAYS remember to use a good lock, ideally a SOLD SECURE GOLD STANDARD LOCK.


Consider investing in a shed or garage alarm. Never leave your bike outside in a rear yard, unless you have a cycle anchor or another secure object to secure it to and make sure the yard gate is locked. Many cycle thefts across County Durham and Darlington occur from bikes left insecure in rear yards or gardens.



Lock It Or Lose It…


It is essential that you have a GOOD quality lock for your bike and that you never leave it unlocked in a public place, even for the shortest time. It takes seconds for a thief to ride away with your bike. 


Sometimes bikes are stolen purely as a means of transport, so even the oldest bike left insecure outside a shop for a few minutes is at risk.
Some locks may look good quality but you basically get what you pay for. SOLD SECURE GOLD STANDARD LOCKS are recommended. A good combination is to use a ‘Gold Standard Sold Secure’ D lock and cable.



Types of Lock:

D Locks - These are heavy rigid steel locks in a D or U shape. Generally the more you pay, the stronger and more secure it will be. D locks range from around £20-£100. D locks have some limitations due to their size and rigidity and will not fit around all street furniture, for example lamp posts. Again we recommend a SOLD SECURE GOLD STANDARD LOCK.


When you lock your cycle, try to fit the bike stand, the rim of one of the wheels and the cycle frame into the D. By securing the wheel you will not only make it harder for thieves to take, but there’ll also be less space in the D which will prevent thieves from inserting bars or jacks to lever the lock.



Cable Locks - These are more flexible so can be used in situations where a D lock might not fit. Cheaper versions are very easily cut through and are often made of thin wire disguised to look substantial with thick plastic covers. Braided or platted cable locks are harder to cut than simple coiled wire.  Some cable locks are reinforced with short cylindrical hardened steel cases. These are harder to cut and can provide a good level of security. Thinner hooped cables are used in conjunction with main locks to loop through parts like wheels or your saddle, so they don’t need to be removed every time you leave your bike.




Chains and Padlocks - These can be very heavy and impractical to carry around, but they are usually very tough and of a good quality. Look for GOLD STANDARD SOLD SECURE. A hardened heavy-duty chain combined with a couple of good hardened padlocks may be the strongest option available. These types of cables are ideal for securing your cycle in a shed or garage, especially for higher value cycles. These chains should be linked to a cycle anchor or other secure object




Additional Security: Ask your cycle retailer about what extra steps you can take to keep your bike secure, including special locking nuts, D locks and extension cable locks. Some locks only allow you to lock the frame and one wheel of your bike, so you may decide to use two D Locks to secure both wheels or to buy a cable lock to secure the second wheel. If you have quick release mechanisms on your bike, it can be very easy for thieves to steal your saddle and wheels. You may wish to replace the quick release mechanisms with ordinary bolts or nuts which require a spanner or allen key. If you’re unsure about this, your local bike shop should be able to advise you and fit the replacements if necessary.


 Street Parking….


What to look for when choosing somewhere to park your bicycle on the street:


On the street, it’s generally best to use cycle parking stands if these are available. Look for secure, immovable cycle parking. Make sure the parking is bolted securely or embedded into the ground. It should ideally be possible for you to lock both your frame and your wheels to the stand. Parking that only allows your front wheel to be locked should be avoided as thieves can remove your front wheel and make off with the rest of your bike.

 ‘D’ or ‘U’ shaped Sheffield stands will usually allow you to do this, but beware of the temptation to only lock your bike through the frame as wheels can be easily removed and stolen. Some new designs encourage double-locking. 

Use a good lock and ideally one which is rated as Gold Standard – ‘Sold Secure’. When choosing a place to park your cycle, try to make sure that there is plenty of ‘natural surveillance’ of the site, such as passing pedestrians, CCTV, overlooking shops or houses and good street lighting. Do make sure that your bike isn’t causing an obstruction to passers-by as it may be removed.



Where Not To Lock Your Bike…
A few tips on what to avoid when parking your cycle:
It’s never a good idea to settle for inadequate parking, even for the shortest time. Think about bike security.
Things to avoid include:
 Dark Alleys - Even if your bike is locked, a thief will have an ideal opportunity to break through your lock
• Butterfly racks - Avoid parking which only allows you to secure your front wheel to the stand. Even if you don’t have quick release wheels, it’s very easy for a thief to detach your wheel and make off with the rest of your bike
• Short posts or even tall posts that a lock can fit over the top of - Your bike will be lifted over the top. Even if there is a sign at the top that your lock can’t fit around, bear in mind that a very determined thief could unscrew the sign and lift your bike over, so it’s not a good idea to leave your bike locked to a sign post overnight
• Drainpipes - Easily shattered/removed
• Overnight Parking - Try to avoid leaving your bike anywhere in the city or town centre’s overnight, even if there is CCTV