Police warn cyclists and runners over GPS app burglary risk

Officers have given some tips to help ‘outwit thieves’

(Image credit: chris catchpole)

As we head deeper into winter and the nights get longer, police have warned about the burglary risks of using GPS apps while running and cycling.

Officers from Cheshire Police have issued some helpful safety tips to help “outwit thieves,” as crime rates tend to increase this late in the year.

Minimising your social media footprint and being wary of posting your location on fitness apps like Strava can help scupper any thieves who may be watching closely.

DCI Simon Draco from Cheshire Police said: “We want people to protect their homes and not give thieves a chance at this time of year.

“Being vigilant and checking home security this weekend will help keep both your home and possessions safe from criminals.

“Simple steps such as minimising your social media footprint before posting your whereabouts and activity if on holiday, or set running and cycling GPS systems to start a distance away from the home all help to outwit thieves.”

Thieves have been known to exploit GPS data from apps like Strava to target potential victims with expensive bikes.

In 2015, Mark Leigh believed burglars targeted his house after he revealed his address and the models of his bikes publicly on the app.

Thieves broke into his garage and stole two bikes worth £500 and £1000.

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Mr Leigh told the Manchester Evening News: “I was not aware of security settings. The other option is to start your route a couple of hundred yards from your house so you aren’t advertising where you are.

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

Helpfully, Strava offer security measures to help protect your home address while riding with GPS tracking.

Setting up a ‘Privacy Zone’ will allow you to shield key locations where you may store your bike, like home and work addresses.

The area selected as a Privacy Zone will be hidden from other Strava athletes.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.