Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Easiest Crime in the World

Nothing to do with cycling or bikes but I like the photo

Well, I promised I’d publish the results of my Freedom of Information request to Gwent Police about the number of bikes stolen in the Gwent area in the years 2009, 2010, 2011 and this year to date.

I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the speed in which Dylan (the FOI officer) responded to my questions.  By law, he’s allowed 20 working days to respond, however he emailed back in an impressive nine days with most of the information I asked for. Thank you Dylan.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends, because as the figures below confirm, if you're unlucky enough to have your bike stolen in Gwent:
  • you're unlikely to ever set eyes on it again
  • the bike thief is even less likely to be caught.

Amazingly, of the 2682 bikes stolen in Gwent since 2009, only 77 have ever been recovered. That’s a recovery rate of just 2.88% - and it's probable that some of these will have been stripped of their more valuable components.

Even more depressing is confirmation that since 2009, only 149 bike thieves have ever had any contact with Gwent Police and of those only half i.e. 75, have been charged.

Basically if someone steals your bike the likelihood of them being caught and brought to justice is tiny. On the other hand, as Harri found out, if you cycle up Caerleon High Street the wrong way on your own bike, the likelihood of Gwent Police reprimanding you is very high!

But back to bike theft. Someone told me that it's now so well organised that professional thieves actually follow cyclists home from popular mountain bike trails, like the one at Cwmcarn Forest. 

They then break into their garages/sheds when the cyclists are sleeping or at work. It's easy, the perfect know-you-won't-ever-be-arrested-and-go-to-prison crime. 

If this is true, why aren't the police doing more to crack down on the highly-organised gangs of bike thieves? Harri's bike wasn't stolen by an opportunist teenager, as the CCTV film footage clearly shows, and my brother-in-law's bike was securely locked in premises far removed from casual passers-by. In both situations, the thefts were carefully planned and professionally executed with strong metal cutters, but the police don't seem interested (and that's the polite version).

As we suspected, these official figures from Gwent Police provide indisputable evidence that bike theft is a crime where the perpetrators can be almost 97% certain that they won’t ever be caught and brought to justice.

And that's just not acceptable.

For anyone interested in the full figures, here they are:

Bikes Stolen

412 (so far)

Grand total



10 (so far)

Grand total



2009                  14
2010                  33
2011                  17
2012                  11

Grand total          75


2009                    1
2010                         0
2011                    3
2012                    2

Grand total            6


2009                   20
2010                   13
2011                   18
2012                     3

Grand total          54

Youth restorative disposal

2009                     0
2010                     0
2011                     1
2012                     2

Grand total              3

Discontinued at court*

2009                     5
2010                     4
2011                     0
2012                     0

Grand total              9

* a prosecution may be discontinued before or during the trial. This might arise where, for example, it is clear that there is no longer a realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction.

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