A recent study has named Oxford’s OX1 postcode as the worst for bike thefts in the whole country, narrowly beating Cambridge’s CB1 postcode.
Between May 2013 and April this year, 846 bicycle thefts were reported to the police in the central Oxford area, while 781 bikes were reported stolen in Cambridge’s CB1 postcode. The research covered 92,508 bike thefts reported to police, and was conducted using data from data.police.co.uk by John Moss, the developer of the Check That Bike website.
Despite the findings, however, Oxford’s City Council has said that there has been no recent increase in the number of bike thefts reported.
A spokesman explained, “We have received no reports from the police or student representatives about any spike in bike thefts in the city. We would of course help or assist in any inspections but so far there has been no approach to our Streetscene service for such support.”
Thames Valley Police officers, however, have acknowledged the frequency of bicycle theft in and around the city centre, warning Oxfordians that even if you lock your bike up securely using a substantial D-lock, your bike is still at risk, as lock clamps can be used to remove the padlock.
Police guidelines encourage students to re- port bicycle thefts as soon as possible, as officers have access to CCTV cameras in and around the city centre that can be used to identify thieves and increase the chances of your bike being recovered.
Second year historian Joel Nelson told Cherwell, “I’m not surprised that the centre of Oxford is the worst in the country for bike theft — there are so many bikes around!”
The need for increased security measures was made apparent after Cherwell contacted a number of students about bike theft in the city centre.
One first year explained, “Last Friday, having been in Oxford for no more than two weeks, I was both surprised and infuriated to find that my bicycle had already been stolen, in broad daylight, whilst briefly left locked up along Magdalen Street.”
Another fresher at St Catherine’s College related, “My bicycle was stolen within two days of having arrived here. They took everything except my front wheel, which was locked up! I knew that bike theft was a problem in Oxford, but I didn’t imagine I would need to be replacing by bike so soon!”
Meanwhile, Jesus fourth year Emilia Carslaw told Cherwell that she has witnessed several attempted bike thefts around the town centre. She explained, “Several times after coming home from nights out, my friends and I have caught people trying to steal bikes from the rack on Ship Street. They only stopped when we went over and said, ‘they’ve got CCTV cameras here’.”
Moss’ Check That Bike website also has the potential to help Oxford buyers to ensure their second-hand bike has not been stolen before purchasing. By entering the frame number on online, users can access their bike’s history, while the website also allows users to register and recover stolen bikes by allowing victims to cross-check data with potential buyers.