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Last year over 9900 bikes - around 27 a day - with a total value estimated to be over £28 million were stolen in the capital - and the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police are doing something about it. We spoke to Detective Chief Inspector, Clint Blackburn from the City of London Police to find out what they had planned to help us keep our machines safe.

Teaming up on ‘Operation Venice’ to combat vehicle thefts, the forces are making thefts of two-wheelers and cars a priority.

“We had a huge spike in crime last year so we decided to team up with the Met Police to crackdown on vehicle thefts. The operation is predominantly centred round two-wheelers - motorcycles and scooters as these are now the most stolen vehicles.”

But it’s not just the theft of the mopeds and motorcycles themselves that are a problem - it’s also what they are then being used for.

“The majority of machines aren’t recovered as they are stripped down and sold for parts. We started looking at moped enabled crime as well - there has been a spike in robberies where people are turning up on mopeds and snatching mobile phones. For example, we had three last night in the space of an hour and there are up to 80 over the course of a weekend in some boroughs in the capital.”

The City of London police operate in the one square mile in the centre of London looking after the world’s leading international financial and business centre. It is also home to around 10,000 residents and sees over 300,000 coming into the City each day to work. There are 75 bays where mopeds and motorcycles are parked.

“It’s a densely packed area for bikes and scooters as it is heavily populated. We’ve targeted all the bays, handing out advice and speaking with motorcyclists. Most people weren’t aware of thefts being a problem - one of the problems we have is that there are no local newspapers so it’s quite difficult to get the message out.”

“We’ve also handed out free locks to riders who didn’t have them. Unfortunately, if you don’t lock it, you might lose it.”

The City of London police run a Twitter account, @CityPolice, where they post updates when a machine has been stolen - stating the make, model and location. They’ve partnered up with marking companies - DATATAG and Road Angel to offer reduced rate tagging.

“We’re really asking people to ensure their machines are stamped. Not only will it help the parts or machine tracked back to the correct owner, it will also deter thieves. It’s been great having the support of the partner agencies and the Met Police has been working with manufacturers. Now, we want to enlist the help of motorcycle users themselves to ‘target harden’ their own machines. To the general public too, if you see someone acting suspiciously around a bike/scooter bay then report it, as it’s possible they may be up to no good.”

One way thieves are finding out whether a bike or scooter is fitted with a tracker is by moving them across London to another bay and monitoring them. If someone comes to collect it, then they can ascertain that it is fitted with a tracker.

“This is a common theme – and it’s important to point out it is not just moped thefts - high value bikes, with prices around £15,000 are also stolen. Whilst the types of bikes and scooters vary dramatically, in the majority of cases, they don’t have a lock.”

We asked for his top tips for keeping your machine safe:

  • Choose a designated parking - and ensure there is a suitable place to lock up your machine. Look for areas with lots of people, lighting and CCTV.
  • Lock it up - if possible, use more than one. Focus on disc locks and chain locks. Fit them tight to the bike and ensure to put them through difficult to remove parts. At home, why not think about getting a ground anchor as something to secure it to.
  • Use a cover if possible – covering up your bike when it’s not being used adds another barrier to thieves looking to steal it.
  • Get it tagged - consider tagging your machine as then it gives it a ‘fingerprint’ so it’s easier to trace back.
  • Check the small print on your insurance - often people don’t realise that they invalidate their insurance when they don’t secure their machines with a lock. In the event of the bike or moped being stolen, the police report will outline whether or not it was locked up.