Warning as bike thefts increased by 66% during pandemic

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Average value of claims for stolen bikes in the last year was £580

The latest investigation from Admiral home insurance has revealed that the number of claims for pedal bike thefts has risen by 66% since the first Covid-19 lockdown (March 2020 – February 2021), compared to the same time period the previous year.

Analysis of the insurers data found that pedal bike thefts accounted for 32% of all theft claims since the pandemic began, compared with 14% the previous year.

The average value of claims for stolen pedal bikes since the pandemic hit, is £580, and in some cases, has been much higher.

At the start of 2021, bikes worth more than £1,500 were the most popular high value items added to Admiral home insurance policies after Christmas, accounting for 30% all items added to policies.

red bicycle wheel with black tire
There’s been a 66% increase in bike thefts during the pandemic (Image: Markus Spiske)

David Fowkes, Head of Household Underwriting at Admiral, said: “Since lockdown restrictions were first introduced back in March 2020, thousands of people bought bikes for exercise or just for a safe way to get around, and the popularity of having two wheels to get around has continued into this year.

“But as several retailers have reported a spike in bike sales, our data suggests it’s also resulted in a boom in the number of bicycle thefts taking place too. In fact, in the first few weeks after lockdown restrictions were put in place, we saw a spike in the number of bike theft claims, and sadly this figure has continued to rise. We’ve seen a 66% increase in the number of bicycle theft claims since March 2020 when the UK first went into lockdown, compared with the same period of time the previous year. When you consider that other theft claims have fallen as a result of people staying at home, that figure has shot up at an alarming rate.

“Thieves are opportunists and will be looking at and seizing the chance to take advantage of easier targets. Unfortunately, budding cycling enthusiasts around the country might be the exact sort of opportunity they are looking for.

“As the spring and summer months start to bring warmer weather, we could see even more people purchasing bikes to get around in a bid to avoid public transport, and this could result in a further spike of bike thefts. So, whether you are a cycling veteran or have just bought your first bike, it pays to be vigilant and step up your bike security in order to deter thieves.

“It’s also a good time to make sure your bike is covered on your home insurance. At Admiral any pedal bike worth less than £350 is automatically covered on your policy, but many bikes cost more than this and will need be added as a specified item.”

Admiral has produced this useful guide on insurance for bikes.

Here are Admiral’s tips to keep your bike safe from thieves:

  • Buy yourself a decent bike lock for example one that meets Sold Secure’s Gold standard – but remember that you get what you pay for
  • Always use your bike lock when you leave it unattended away from home, even if it’s just for a few seconds
  • Lock your bike to a solid, immoveable object such as railings or a proper bike rack
  • Make sure it’s locked in a well-lit, preferably busy area covered by CCTV
  • Never leave your bike unsecured outside your home, even on your own property
  • At home always lock your bike away when it’s not being used, and make sure there’s a strong lock if it’s in a shed or outbuilding
  • Register your bike with national schemes such as Immobilise or the Bike Register
  • Take photographs of the bike, including any distinctive marks or features on it – just in case the worst happens

(Lead image: Daniel Frank)

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