Bicycles top ‘most wanted’ list by UK thieves

Analysis of data published by insurer Zurich shows a sharp overall drop in claims for burglary over the past four years but a steep rise in bike thefts, as they now top the list of the most-stolen household items.

Total burglary rates have plummeted by over two thirds, reflecting a nationwide trend with people housebound during the pandemic. However, the data reveals that thieves have now shifted their attention to bicycles which now account for more than one in three (36%) home contents theft claims, jumping 16% in the past four years. The average claim for a stolen bicycle is now £634.

These claims have overtaken precious watches and jewellery which have dropped by 16%, alongside those for cash and bank cards (10%). Claims for laptops and tablets, however, have more than halved over the same period, now accounting for just 7%.

Claim trends from Zurich, reflect Police Crime data which shows that in January alone, 4,153 bicycle thefts were reported, equating to one every 11 minutes.  Feeding this surge is a new passion for cycling which has also been boosted by the pandemic. According to The Bicycle Association, sales soared by 60 per cent between March and December 2020.

This demand has driven up prices with the average bicycle costing nearly £400 in July 2021. Though manufacturers continue to announce price hikes, due to supply chain issues, increased costs of raw materials and shipping.

Phil Ost, the Head of Personal Lines at Zurich commented: It’s highly likely that their claims data is just the tip of the iceberg, with many people not reporting thefts because of concerns about increases to their premiums.  While it’s good news to see overall rates of burglary in decline, the volume and value of bicycle claims is a concern for cyclists in particular.

Generally speaking, cover for bikes is common under household policies, though customers need to ensure that this is sufficient, especially for more expensive models.  These may need to be listed separately if they’re above a certain value. Zurich also recommends customers check that policies protect their bikes while they’re out and about as many thefts occur away from home. Deterrents such as locks are also crucial.

Tips for keeping your bike safe

  • Ensure you have adequate insurance for your bicycle.  Some will be included on household contents policies though they may need to be listed separately if they are above a certain value.
  • Many insurers have a limit for theft from outbuildings or sheds and will often set out any additional security requirements when bicycles are stored in these places.  Customers should therefore ensure that these buildings are adequately protected.
  • Cyclists also need to check their policy provides ‘away from home’ cover in the event of being targeted while out on the road.  As above, insurers will often set out any extra security measures needed when bicycles are left unattended.
  • Get your bicycle registered via an organisation such as Bike Register. This is a free service and is the Police preferred, marking and registration scheme.
  • Invest in a secure lock – use this while your bicycle is stored and when left unattended away from home. D locks tend to be the most effective though can be weighty. For high value models, some insurers may require a specific level of security such as those set out by Sold Secure
  • Lock your bicycle to a fixed object or floor mounted rack making it harder for thieves to remove.
  • If possible, keep bicycles out of view.
  • If you use a tracking and social networking app, adjust your settings to avoid sharing your home location that could enable thieves to track down your bicycle.

This article is adapted from an original post by Zurich which can be found here.