Having a bike stolen is a heart sinking moment, and more often than not it happens when we least expect it. And with plenty of summertime riding on the horizon, we should have our wits about us.
The good news is that our individual risk of having a bike stolen is quite low. However, with theft rates rising each year and more high-priced e-bikes and cargo bikes out on Victorian roads and paths, riders need to be aware of the risks and know how to keep their bikes secure.
In 2022, Bicycle Network analysed the bike theft data collected by the Crime Statistics Agency Victoria. What we found was alarming and at times surprising…
1. Bike thefts are growing
Over 7000 bikes were stolen across Victoria last year, roughly 19 bikes a day. Thefts have risen by 75% over the last decade. Thankfully, numbers have slightly dropped from a peak in 2019, but we are still facing an upward trend as the years go by.
In fact, if this trend continues we are likely to see nearly 11,000 bikes stolen annually by 2030. That's roughly the entire population of Fitzroy!
Now, you could argue that more people own bikes than they did ten years ago, so this would explain why there is more thefts. Unfortunately, this isn’t true.
If we look at the rate of thefts (per 100,000 bikes) we can see that this has also been increasing since 2011. In other words, there are more bikes but there are even more thefts!
2. Bike thefts are costing us millions each year
Unsolved bike thefts in Victoria equated to $5.8 million in 2021. This is more than double the amount that bike thefts costs Victorians in 2011!
The councils with the highest theft-related cost burdens are Melbourne, Port Phillip, Yarra, Moreland, and Maribyrnong.
3. Bike thefts are set to overtake car thefts
In Victoria, there are around 3.53 million bikes and 5.16 million registered vehicles. However, their theft rates are actually quite similar: 2 thefts per 1000 bikes, and 3 thefts per 1000 vehicles.
And there is the possibility that bike thefts may overtake car thefts completely. Comparing the number of cases per year, it is clear that bikes thefts are on the rise (blue line in graph above). Meanwhile, the number are rate of motor vehicle thefts are going down (green line in graph above). In fact, car thefts have dropped to their lowest number in more than a decade!
4. The majority of theft cases are unsolved
A staggering 91% of bike theft cases are remain unsolved. This figure has not changed in 10 years.
Bikes can be easily dismantled into and parts and sold quickly. This makes recovering bikes and catching the crooks very difficult.
5. Inner city suburbs are hot spots for thefts
The Victorian local government area (LGA) with the most reported bike thefts in 2021 was Melbourne, with 1243 thefts, or 724 thefts per 100,000 people. Yikes!
Port Phillip was the second most common place for bike thefts, with 540 thefts, or 484 per 100,000 people. This was closely followed by Yarra, Maribyrnong and Stonnington.
In regional Victoria, the LGAs with the highest bike thefts are Horsham, Mildura, and Benalla. Other regional LGAs of concern include Greater Shepparton, Warrnambool, Wangaratta and Colac-Otway.
What can you do to lessen the risks?
It’s Christmas season, which means that more of us are going to be out on bikes and enjoying summertime rides. But we mustn’t let our guard down.
We recommend that riders take the following steps to ensure the risk of bike theft is minimised:
- Record your bike’s serial number and details.
- Make your bike identifiable, for example by engraving your name.
- Consider using a
- Use a high-quality hardened lock, such as a D-lock.
- When parking, wrap your bike lock between the bike’s wheels and frame, as this will increase the bike’s protection.
- If travelling to a railway station, use a secure bike cage, such as Parkiteer.
- Consider bike insurance. Bike Insure, for example, offers insurance policies for any kind of bike. You can check our site to see if there is a policy that’s right for you.
- Register your bike. There are a number of voluntary bike registers where you can record your bikes details. This helps police and the general community return your bike, should it become lost or stolen. Here are some platforms you can use: