Interactive Cambridge bike theft map 2021: Discover where bicycles were stolen and what happened in every case
The number of bicycle thefts in Cambridge increased every month in the first half of 2021 – and in 98 per cent of cases, police have been unable to take action.
The Cambridge Independent has created an interactive map that shows the location of all reported bike thefts and enables you to see what happened in the case by clicking on any of the icons.
Our investigation has found there were 690 bicycles reported stolen in the city between January and the end of June. The true number of stolen bikes may be much higher, as many victims do not report the crime, despite police encouraging them to do so.
The number of thefts has grown as lockdown restrictions have eased during the course of the year and as the city has grown busier. You can use the map to see how the number of bike thefts has changed month by month, by toggling the layers on and off.
In June, the latest month for which figures are available, there were 171 bikes reported stolen – equivalent to five or six every day. This was more than three times the 56 recorded in January, when the country was in full lockdown.
Omar Terywall, who set up the Stolen Bikes in Cambridge Facebook page, said: “The rate of bike theft has definitely increased. There’s a lot more organised bike crime happening now, so pretty much all the new developments are being targeted.
“We know that there’s one area in Chesterton, for example, that has been hit five times now in the space of 12 months, which is remarkable really. No real deterrents are in place that I can see. All they do is simply replace everything that they had previously, so the thieves know exactly what to do the next time because nothing’s changed.”
In 661 of the 690 reported bike theft cases in the first half of the year, the police investigation ended with no suspect identified while, in 17 more, officers were unable to prosecute a suspect, which may have been because of a lack of sufficient evidence to achieve a conviction.
Only six cases went to court, while three more crimes are under investigation. In one case, there was a local resolution, in another police determined further action was not in the public interest, while an update was unavailable in the remaining case.
This means that 96 per cent of bicycle thefts in the city in the first half of the year ended with no suspect identified, and in 98 per cent of cases police were unable to take action.
Cambridge’s reputation as the UK’s cycling capital has been mired by its unwanted record as the country’s biggest bike theft hotspot.
In May, Office for National Statistics figures showed the rate of reported thefts per 1,000 people in Cambridge was 18.25 for the year ending September 2020 – more than five times the average from similar areas of 3.61 – and well above the average of 4.13 for Cambridgeshire.
That month, Camcycle, Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire police joined forces to launch the Save Our Cycles campaign, supported by the Cambridge Independent.
The campaign encourages bicycle owners to ‘lock it and log it’ – that is, ensure they use strong locks to deter thieves and register their cycle frame number at BikeRegister.com. Police say registration, along with detailed and accurate descriptions, can help them reconnect stolen bikes with their owners.
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire police said: “The number of bike thefts has decreased by five per cent compared to the first six months of last year. Since March last year, we have arrested more than 100 people for cycle theft in the county and almost half have since been charged and sent to court.
“We’re working hard to address cycle crime. This includes reviewing and identifying bike-theft hotspots, prosecuting offenders where possible, recovering stolen bikes, proactive patrols and education.
“We urge cyclists to ensure their bike is secured with at least one decent lock, as well as being marked and registered to increase the chance of it being returned if it is stolen.”
Studying location data for the crimes in the first half of 2021 shows the city centre is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the scene of the highest number of bike thefts, with concentrations in the main shopping and entertainment areas, while the station area, Chesterton and the southern end of Huntingdon Road also had clusters of cases. There were a handful of thefts to the south, around Trumpington, Addenbrooke’s and Cherry Hinton.
Cambridge resident Jamie Blower had his bike stolen from the ground floor of the cycle park at the station on Monday (August 23).
“I’ve lived in Cambridge probably for three years now,” he said. “I live in a house share – and every single housemate that I live with has also had their bike stolen from the train station, which I think is absolutely ludicrous.”
Jamie, who bought the bike off a colleague for £300, added: “We’ve all locked them up. We all went out of our way to buy a nice bike to use for commuting to the station and for leisure.
“Mine was the second most expensive – my housemate had a really expensive bike stolen and I think he was very distraught.”
Last year, the Cambridge Independent conducted similar research for the first half of 2020 when there were 726 thefts – and in 694 cases (95 per cent), the investigation was closed by police with no suspect identified, as you can see from this map.
Police say they work to bring cases to court whenever they can.
In April, Jon Miller, 36, of Paget Road, Cambridge, was given a suspended sentence and criminal behaviour order after pleading guilty to attempted bike theft and going equipped for theft. Miller had been spotted in East Road cutting locks with an angle grinder.
In June, 25-year-old Blake Healy, of Victoria Road in Cambridge, was jailed for 16 weeks after pleading guilty to attempted bike theft, common assault of an emergency worker and using threatening behaviour with intent to cause fear. He was caught on CCTV threatening a member of the public who confronted him as he attempted to steal a bike in Hobson Street, then attempted to headbutt and bite an officer when police caught up with him.
In July, Ricky Green, of Victoria Road, Cambridge, was ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work after he was caught in the act of stealing a Pinnacle Hybrid bike on November 7, 2020, on CCTV. The 37-year-old had sold on the bike worth more than £600 for between £20 and £30 in cash.
And in August, Jamie Smith, 31, was arrested at his home in Fen Road, Cambridge, in connection with the theft of a high-value bicycle from Cambridge station cycle park on April 17. He was charged with theft of a pedal cycle worth £3,500 and was bailed to appear at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on September 9.
Additional reporting: Adrian Peel
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