Leighton Buzzard’s claim to be a “cycle friendly town” is being challenged after a Freedom of Information Act enquiry revealed 98 bicycles were reported stolen in 2016.
A cyclist, who himself had two bikes pinched during the year, obtained the statistics from Beds Police and says they make grim reading.
Eight years on from Leighton Buzzard securing £1m Cycling Town status to improve infrastructure, the number of people opting for two wheels over four is still increasing.
But the number of thefts is threatening to spoil the good work, according to our FoI source who we agreed not to name.
He said: “In 2016 I had two cycles stolen from the town neither of which were recovered and no-one was apprehended by the police. The cycle locking stations of the town do not seem to be covered by any CCTV and the only constructive comment from the Bedfordshire Police is that the town is a “black spot” for cycle theft.
The full statistics revealed the following thefts: pedal cycle BMX 3, pedal cycle mountain 66, pedal cycle other 28, pedal cycle sports/racing 1 = 98.
The cyclist added: “This equates to nearly two stolen cycles a week and does not take into account any that are too old, insignificant that they they have not been reported. If this can be construed as being cycle friendly then my interpretation is somewhat different.
“From my experience after two weeks or so any investigation is closed and that is the end of that.”
Another reader got in touch this week furious that her bicycle had been stolen from the cycle racks at Leighton Buzzard train station on Sunday, January 15.
She said: “My B’twin Triban road bike (blue / black) was stolen from the cycle racks between 10.40am and 3.15pm. I have reported this to British Transport Police who are investigating, however I wanted to raise awareness to local cyclists using the station.
“I had heard of bikes thefts previously at the station, but hadn’t been to Leighton station on my bike for a while. It was secured with a cable lock in the cycle racks where a CCTV camera is installed. I only left it there for a few hours while I went to visit my sister.”
Anyone with information about the theft should call 101.
Sergeant Louise Bates said: “Towards the end of last year we did see a small spike in bicycle thefts in Leighton Buzzard, and take all reports of these thefts seriously as we understand the impact it has on victims.
“Each time a stolen bicycle is reported to us we conduct a proportionate investigation. This can include checking CCTV covering the area the bike was taken from, checking local pawn shops and appealing for information on our social media sites.
“Our policing presence in Leighton Buzzard has increased since last October, when Operation Sentinel was introduced to the town, and the team continues to carry out targeted police patrols in the community.
“We continue to encourage the public to ensure their bicycles are left secured, and hold bike marking surgeries throughout the county to encourage people to mark their property. Although property marking doesn’t prevent property being stolen, it does act as a deterrent as marked property can be harder to sell on.”
A spokesman for British Transport Police said: “Unfortunately, bicycles remain a popular target for thieves. We have a dedicated cycle theft investigation team and would advise cyclists to invest in a good quality D lock and get their bikes securely marked and registered at www.bikeregister.com.
“Getting your cycle registered helps police trace recovered cycles and return them to their owners. Additionally it makes your property less appealing to would-be thieves.
“We regularly hold cycle surgeries where you can get your bike security marked for free at stations across the country, check our website for details of one near you.”