By Matthew Stott
Monday, February 25, 2013
THOUSANDS of bikes are being stolen across the region – and less than one in 10 are being returned to their owners, causing anger among cyclists.
Figures have revealed thieves took 2,995 bikes in seven major towns across Suffolk from 2010-2012, with police only managing to retrieve 206 – just 7% – leaving bike owners thousands of pounds out of pocket and frustrated.
Keith Halton, of the Suffolk Cyclists’ Touring Club, said the thefts cause much more than just a financial setback.
He said: “For anybody whose bike is stolen, it is very disappointing and frustrating.
“Not only have you probably lost quite a lot of money, but it causes a huge amount of inconvenience.
“People use bikes as part of their lives; they need it to get to work and back and it’s a main form of exercise for a lot of people.”
The figures, revealed under Freedom of Information laws, showed nearly two bikes a day were stolen on average in Ipswich in 2011 – with just 4% recovered.
Ipswich also had the lowest return rate in the study over the whole period. Just 90 out of 1,690 bikes were found – a 5% return record.
Only 14 out of 199 bikes seized in Bury St Edmunds were recovered from 2010-2012, while Felixstowe boasted the best return rate with 17% of stolen bikes reunited with their owner.
In north-east Essex, just three out of 153 (2%) bikes were recovered in Colchester in 2011, while two out of 66 Braintree bikes were found and only 11 out of 142 bikes in Clacton were rediscovered in 2012.
Elsewhere, no bikes were returned in Hadleigh or Woodbridge last year, 49 out of 687 bikes were retrieved in Lowestoft in the three-year period, and only 7% of bikes were returned to their owners in Newmarket over the period.
Police officer Kevin Rolt, who is also chairman of the Newmarket Cycling and Triathlon Club, said cyclists must remain vigilant.
He said: “It is a serious matter. There have only been around five thefts at the club in the last five years but they are expensive bikes and cost thousands of pounds.
“One member left his shed door open in his garden for just 20 minutes while he went to the kitchen and someone had taken his bike.
“When people are on holiday in caravan or holiday parks, they become vulnerable to thieves because they are in a relaxed mood as well.
“Every time you buy a bike, you should record the serial number. It is incredible how many people report crimes of bikes and do not have that, which makes it a lot more difficult to retrieve the bike.”
A Suffolk police spokesman said: “We take the issue of bike thefts very seriously and will always do our best to recover items and reunite them with their rightful owners.”