40,000 stolen bikes and counting

40,000 stolen bikes and counting
John Moss
By John Moss
March 29, 2015

As many of you will be aware we have been campaigning for the last two years to get stolen bike data from the police into public hands, so services like our own Check That Bike! can check against police lists. To the surprise of no one I got nowhere with a softly softly approach so late last year we used the ace up our sleeves (FOI requests) and have now received data from 28 of the 43 police forces in the UK.

This has given us the frame numbers of 40,000 stolen bikes, to put that in perspective the service currently recommended by the Police has 4,296 stolen bikes almost ten times less than we have gathered in the six months since we stopped treating the police with kid gloves.

To keep with our promise to be open and transparent about these things below are the releases we have and we will be keeping this table updated on the Check That Bike! website as we go along.

Police Force Status Data
Avon and Somerset Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 06/10/2014
01/08/2008 to 01/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1748
Bedfordshire Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 438
British Transport Police
*Estimate, general description field used to record frame numbers
Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 13/10/2014
18/09/2009 to 17/09/2014
Total Imported Records: 2623
Cambridgeshire Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 08/10/2014
01/01/2009 to 01/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 3683
Cheshire Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/04/2011 to 30/09/2014
Total Imported Records: 928
City of London Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 14/10/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/12/2013
Total Imported Records: 140
Derbyshire Constabulary Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 11/12/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1766
Devon and Cornwall Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 26/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 744
Dyfed-Powys Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 25/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 25
Essex Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/10/2010 to 10/11/2014
Total Imported Records: 698
Gloucestershire Constabulary Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 944
Greater Manchester Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 06/10/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/12/2013
Total Imported Records: 4735
Hertfordshire Constabulary Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 11/12/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 460
Kent Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/12/2013
Total Imported Records: 1311
Leicestershire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 24/10/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/08/2014
Total Imported Records: 1428
Merseyside Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 11/11/2014
Total Imported Records: 3332
Metropolitan Police Service Refused, ICO Complaint in progress
Last Update: 31/03/2015
Norfolk Constabulary Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 29/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 418
North Wales Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 14/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 251
North Yorkshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2010 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1495
Northamptonshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 23/12/2014
01/01/2009 to 11/11/2014
Total Imported Records: 363
Nottinghamshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1611
Police Service of Northern Ireland Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 11/12/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 188
South Wales Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1661
South Yorkshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 27/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 838
Staffordshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 11/12/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1635
Suffolk Constabulary Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 26/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 543
Thames Valley Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 03/10/2014
01/01/2009 to 01/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 4617
Warwickshire Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/04/2009 to 24/11/2014
Total Imported Records: 66
West Mercia Police Data Provided (Processed)
Last Update: 27/11/2014
01/01/2009 to 31/10/2014
Total Imported Records: 1611
Total Police Records: 40300

There are downsides to this method though, we don’t get updates when a bikes recovered but to workaround this we advise people to phone 101 and confirm a stolen bike if there is a match. We also provide guidance on further steps to help people avoid buying a stolen bike, even in the event we can’t find anything suspicious by looking at the frame numbers.

  • Simon Bunce

    Great idea. It is done for mobile telephones, via the IMEA number, just get this database to include bike frame numbers…

  • Thomas Casey

    How can they NOT supply data. The Met appear to be the laziest service, they don’t even bother attending £100 million jewel robberies so bicycles are way down in the pecking order. In fact they’re not even ON the pecking order. I think it would be a good idea to pressurize eBay into demanding serial (frame) numbers numbers in all ads which have goods containing identifiable numbers (cameras, phones etc.) It would kill the trade in stolen goods on eBay. I have suggested this to them but have received no reply.

  • James

    I just checked my frame number which was reported to the Avon and Somerset police within the timer period, and it’s not there!

    • Stolen-Bikes.co.uk

      We can only use data provided to you I’ve check your frame number (provided in private) and it was never given to us, this suggests it was either recorded in the property description and not the frame number field or was not recorded by the officers.

  • Snowmuncher

    Congrats to all those trying to push this issue forward. I had my bike stolen in London recently and I have spent the last day researching how things work. As far as I can work out there are 4 private national databases of stolen bikes. I was led to believe by the Met PC I spoke to on the phone when reporting the details of the theft that there was a national police database of stolen bikes, but it appears that was misleading information. All of the Met police I spoke to were utterly clueless on this subject.

    Searching through ebay, gumtree, preloved both for a replacement for my stolen bike and checking to see if it has been put on sale, I would guess that at least half the bikes for sale are stolen. I still have the receipt from Cycle Surgery for a bike I bought new in 2001. People are selling bikes that are 1 or 2 years old for several hundred pounds, and even more than a thousand pounds and when I ask them if they have the original receipt, they either ignore me, give various excuses or start to get very verbally aggressive by email – for example “[sic] no I don’t , so that mean you are not going to bid on it ,or you need the receipts to ride the bike ,don’t be ridiculous ,ask me better things than that , you would be better off to buy one in a shop ,then you will see the price” and then “if you are riding bike I am pretty sure you must have bought stolen item in market & car boot sale all around London for peanut price….” etc.

    Next time Bernard Hogan Howe is on LBC again on the Nick Ferrari show, please call him and ask him why the Met police do not seem to give one damn. Likewise when Boris is on next & taking calls.

  • BM

    If I take this information as close to being accurate, an average of 40 000 cycles stolen at an average cost of £300,00 per cycle, totaling £12 000 000.00. That is a sizeable market and quite a drag on consumers of cycles. So the police don’t quite see this as an ‘important’ matter and find it is easier to simply file the case. Not a bad revenue for the government on VAT, just on cycles and reality being as it is, not a bad market for manufacturers either. So once considering the sell on value, the market should be around £15-£20 million per anum. So why bother saving the planet by cycling when one could be enjoying the fruits of a lucrative market and being able to afford to drive ones leased car.

    Is this not a market where the police should be having a far better recovery rate or is it really too much work for them? I do wonder!

  • Steven Johnson

    This is all of course unpleasant when your thing is stolen.
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