I attended Hackney Cyclists’ monthly meeting last night. The first item on the agenda was the new Cycle Crime Unit, part of the local police. This has been set up by two PCs, Maz and Nicola, who are enthusiastic about tackling cycle theft and reuniting bikes with owners. The project is a pilot, which has been given three months in which to prove itself – it does not have any dedicated funding but Maz and Nicola are working on it full time during this period.
They have a lot of ideas and also challenges – bike theft knows no borough boundaries so it is necessary to liaise with forces outside the borough and access their records too. Information held on the various databases is sometimes inaccurate or incomplete. To fully check out a bike takes a lot of work. For example, they find a stolen black Specialized Sirrus. Firstly, they check the frame number in a drop down box on the police computer; if it is not recognised, they must then search for “Black Specialized Sirrus”, which may bring up 29 stolen in the Met area in the past six months. Then, someone has to trawl through records – phoning up victims and checking descriptions.
As well as tightening up investigation procedures, Maz and Nicola want to encourage cycle owners to record and register (e.g. on Immobilise) as many details as possible about their bicycle, to improve chances of recovery. The frame number is crucial, but owners should also keep a photo of their bike and a description of it. (Apparently, sometimes people don’t remember the brand – and even the colour – of their bike). Improving awareness of what constitutes good bike locking was also discussed, as was encouraging more bike shops to record details of bikes purchased.
Maz and Nicola are keen to receive feedback on the initiative and suggestions (their email address is on the leaflet copied below).