Cyclist Mark Leigh of Greater Manchester had two bikes stolen and believes thieves tracked his address through the Strava app

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Cyclists are once again being warned to consider their privacy settings on ride tracking services including Strava, as another rider falls victim to thieves potentially tracking his location through the app.

Mark Leigh, 54, of Failsworth, Greater Manchester believes thieves targeted his house after he revealed not only his location, but the models of his bikes publicly on Strava.

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Thieves broke into his garage and stole two bikes worth £500 and £1000. With no other robberies reported around the same time, Mr Leigh believes the culprits identified him online.

“I’d come back from a ride around the Saddleworth hills, which I tracked on Strava,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

“I locked my bike in the garage next to another one. The following morning my garage had been cleverly broken into and they were gone.

“My garage is not highly visible. I live on a narrow cul-de-sac – the only explanation I can think of is Strava, as my route ended at my home address.”

Mr Leigh said he wasn’t aware of the security settings available on Strava known as ‘home zone’, which allows users to stop GPS tracking when they are nearby their house.

“I was not aware of security settings,” he added. “The other option is to start your route a couple of hundred yards from your house so you aren’t advertising where you are.

“People want to build up as many miles as possible, but you need to be safe.

“Strava is a great tool, but be mindful of the security protection in the app and be careful about publishing things publicly.”

It’s far from the first time warnings have gone out over riders protecting their privacy on the cycling social site, with Dorset Police urging riders to safeguard their data earlier this year after a number of bike thefts in the area.

Simon Klima, UK manager at Strava, told the MEN on the issue: “We believe it is important that our members have the tools to protect themselves and control the detail of information they share.

“While we have not been able to confirm any cases of theft related to Strava activity uploads, we do offer a rich set of easy-to-use privacy controls for all our members.

“As a leading social network for athletes, Strava gives members the tools to manage the information they share with friends and followers.

“They can set privacy zones around any address such as home or office addresses, so that start and end locations of their activities aren’t shared publicly.”

  • RobTM

    Look I’m just skeptical that it’s Strava targetting until there’s some real evidence to suggest it

  • K Sole

    … my thoughts exactly

  • K Sole

    .. the point is not the loss as unfortunate as that is, it’s the association of starva use with the theft that causes raised eye brows. anyone could’ve seen him putting the bikes away.

  • Steadfast

    What you say is true that thefts have occurred without Strava.
    But I’d wager it was enough of a loss to that man. We all have different financial situations. 500 might not seem a lot to some, but to others it could be huge in setting them back for months maybe before they can begin training again. That’s an ENORMOUS setback to their training pattern potentially.
    And I’m sure none of us here would rather an even more costly break-in to occur just to provide us with “something juicier” to shock and entertain us with.
    Peace.

  • Steadfast

    Excellent advice there Trevor. Apart from the obvious (security risks) you’re totally correct about it being physiologically bad for you “trying to keep your ride average speed high until you can see your front door”.
    Well said Buddy

  • RobTM

    Good advice on privacy settings… but if you are trying to keep your ride average speed high just cos’ of Strava you’re using it wrong

  • RobTM

    Plenty of ppl have had garages broken into and bikes stolen, without Strava. The value of the bikes is also not exactly high, £1,000 & £500.. surely a Strava targetted crime, could find something juicier.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    Do this:
    Mentally define a 5km (or more) perimiter on the roads around you home.
    Switch your GPS on after the 5km ‘warmup’
    Switch it off when you get within 5km of home and use the distance a as warm down.
    It’s not good for you trying to keep your ride average speed high until you can see your front door, let alone giving crooks an idea where you live.
    Add the extra kms to your total on an excel sheet or other record ledger.

    Also, in Strava:
    Click on your member pic (upper right of the screen)
    Select ‘Settings’
    Click ‘Privacy’
    You can create a privacy zone and define the size of the radius.
    Note that you can also deselect the ‘Flyby’ feature so people who ride close to you can’t see who you are and your ride details (where you set off from).

  • MrHaematocrit

    Be interesting to see statistics on property being broken into for strava and non strava users