CYCLING campaigners have slammed Essex Police’s ‘dismal record’ of solving bike thefts after the Gazette revealed the force solved just two out of 432 such incidents in Colchester last year.

The information obtained by the Gazette via a Freedom of Information request showed there were more bike thefts in Colchester than any other police district in the county in 2023 after the number of thefts in the city was up by 43 per cent from 2022.

The value of the bikes being stolen is also rising – more than £136,000 of bikes were stolen last year, up from £106,000 the year before.

Vital – bikes are many people's only form of transport, but many cyclists feel the rate of thefts isn't being taken seriouslyVital – bikes are many people's only form of transport, but many cyclists feel the rate of thefts isn't being taken seriously (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

Data showed that whilst the number of bike thefts is falling across most Essex Police districts, the number of incidents in Colchester has nearly doubled over the last three years.

Despite the number of thefts falling to 229 in 2021, that rate increased to 302 in 2022 and then jumped to a high point of 432 last year.

By comparison Basildon, Chelmsford, and Southend all experienced reductions in bike thefts.

Across Essex, there were 1,662 recorded incidents of bike thefts in 2023, down from 1,736 the previous year.

A spokesman for Colchester Cycling Campaign said it was concerning to see Colchester was bucking a wider positive trend of reduction in bike thefts.

They also took aim at Essex Police for solving two out of 432 thefts in Colchester last year.

He said: “Colchester Cycling Campaign is appalled by the continuing high level of cycle thefts in Colchester and the dismal record of Essex Police at solving these crimes.

“The risk of bikes being stolen is a major deterrent to people cycling in Colchester - research shows that having a bike stolen causes a quarter of people to give up cycling entirely.

Hot spot – Leisure World is an area targeted by bike thievesHot spot – Leisure World is an area targeted by bike thieves (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

“We call on Essex Police, Colchester Council and Essex County Council to treat cycle theft seriously and take measures to address this serious issue.

“We welcomed the opening of Colchester's secure bike hub on Sir Isaac's Walk last year, but these statistics show that the police and councils need to do far more to improve the security of cycles and improve awareness around the necessity of using high quality locks.

“Colchester Council must take action to address known cycle theft hotspots like Leisure World where cycles are stolen very regularly.”

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Police 'committed to ensuring people’s possessions are secure across the whole of the county'

ESSEX Police have insisted they are committed to tackling bike thefts in Colchester, despite the city experiencing more incidents than anywhere else in the county.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Gazette revealed there were 432 bike thefts recorded in Colchester last year, with only two being solved.

A spokesman for Essex Police has now shared advice on precautions cyclists should take when leaving their bike, including double locking it, registering it on a national bike registration database approved by Secure by Design, and making sure it is security marked.

He said: “We are committed to ensuring people’s possessions are secure across the whole of the county, including Colchester, we are implementing lots of activities to tackle this crime.

“The most important thing to remember is, double lock your bike and register the frame number.”

He continued: “If your bike has been stolen, contact us as soon as possible by reporting online.

“Give us your frame number, cycle database number, a photo and any other details and make sure you update the status on the cycle database where you registered it.

“The sooner we know, the sooner we can act, which might stop it being sold on.”