Northern Ireland

Bike theft 'like the new car theft', says PSNI

Bike theft across Northern Ireland is on the rise, particularly in south Belfast
Image caption Bike theft across Northern Ireland is on the rise, particularly in south Belfast

Bicycle theft is "almost like the new car theft", the PSNI has said.

The problem is on the rise across Northern Ireland and particularly in south Belfast which, for the past 10 years, has consistently seen the highest levels.

Despite its prevalence, it is estimated that just one in six bike thefts are reported to the police.

In an effort to tackle the problem, police have introduced a bike registration scheme.

Image caption Det Sgt Pete Cunningham warned bicycle owners to secure them properly when out and about

PSNI Sgt Pete Cunningham said that "people are leaving their bikes unattended, which provides a unique opportunity for others to take them".

"We need to secure bikes when we are out and about," he warned.

"Even if it is just for a short period of time, they need to be secured and left in a well-lit area."

Image caption Paul Manton of McConvey's Cycles recommends spending at least 10% of the bike's value on a lock

Paul Manton, manager of south Belfast bike retailer McConvey's Cycles, told the BBC that people in Northern Ireland are not spending enough on bike security.

"Usually, theft is the last thing on anyone's mind when they are buying a bike," he said.

"We would recommend that people spend at least 10% of the value of their bike on a lock, but very few people rely on good quality locks.

"You could have a two or three thousand pound bike in your shed, which only has a £5 padlock on its door and no lock on the bike itself," he added.

'Minimise the risk'

Claire McLernon of the cycling charity Sustrans, said the figures should not put people off cycling to work, because there are "so many things you can do to minimise the risks".

"If you're committed to buying a good bicycle, you need to be equally as committed to buying a good lock," she said.

Image caption Clare McClernon of the Sustrans charity said the figures should not put people off cycling to work

"I had a bicycle that had the lock cut through in south Belfast, but it was a cheap chain from a hardware store.

"I'm hearing more about bikes being stolen, but I try to take the positive from that, that more people must be cycling.

"People are learning how to deal with bike theft and there are improvements being made.

"Nobody should be put off cycling by bike theft - just make sure you protect yourself against it."

The PSNI's bike registration scheme is available through local crime prevention units, where police mark bikes, free of charge.

More on this story