Cyclists advised to double up on locks as bike thefts rise

'As long as you’re not the easiest or most inviting target, you probably won’t get your bike stolen,' says Laka's Nick Sutton

A person in a hoodie breaking a bike lock with bolt cutters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cyclists might want to consider using more than one lock when leaving their bike in a public place, an insurance expert has advised. 

Nick Sutton, who heads the customer experience team at UK bike insurance firm Laka, says he has witnessed a “clear trend” in recent months, with more claims for theft. 

The vast majority of these cases take place in the open, and typically consist of someone stealing a bike from a rack or stand, often by breaking the lock.

“Theft from a public location is always going to be the most vulnerable type of scenario, for obvious reasons,” Sutton told Cycling Weekly. “It’s a much more opportunistic, casual type of crime to steal something from the street than it is to break into private property.” 

To deter opportunists and bolster security, Sutton suggested cyclists could use multiple locks - one of which is essential to comply with insurance policies.

“I use a D-lock in order to be compliant and I have a cable attaching the wheels,” he said. “However, if I knew I was leaving my bike outside a train station, I’d probably invest in more than one D-lock and go beyond the necessity of the [policy] wording.

“I’d also invest in security bolts and security skewers. There are a few brands that do them and it means that not everyone with an allen key can pinch your handlebars and things like that.

“The rule of thumb I’ve always taken is, as long as you’re not the easiest or most inviting target on a bike stand, you probably won’t get [your bike] stolen. But it all depends on the context. I think if you leave any bike with any security arrangement outside a train station for a weekend, then it’s going to get stolen.” 

Laka has seen an increase in claims for theft in the past six months, proportionate to a surge in people signing up. The firm launched a theft-only service at the end of 2022, which has been in “extremely high demand”, according to Sutton. 

“We weren’t entirely sure that there would be so much appetite for such a narrow focus,” he said. “But for a certain portion of customers, theft is absolutely front of mind, and that product really took off for that reason, perhaps a little more than we expected.” 

Cyclists have also been concerned by stories of violent muggings, which have left some "overshadowed with fear". 

According to Sutton, these cases have created a "frenzy" in many circles. “Fortunately, mugging is a very, very low frequency type of theft,” he sought to reassure, “but it’s understandable why it agitates people.

“There’s only really a handful that we see each year. It’s definitely increased, albeit from a very, very small number to a slightly larger number.”

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