Electric bike thefts double in a year with West Yorkshire being named as hotspot

It’s ‘wheely bad news’ for electric bike owners with police data revealing that thefts of these high-value items have sky-rocketed in the past three years.
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Police data has revealed that there were 103 per cent more electric bike thefts in the last year compared to 2022, and a whopping 257 per cent more than in 2021.

Evolve e-Bikes submitted a Freedom of Information request to every police force in the UK for data on the number of thefts of e-bikes. They also downloaded data from the UK Police Data hub, for insight on regular pedal bike thefts since 2021.

Overall, pedal bike thefts actually fell by 15 per cent in 2023, which is in sharp contrast to the huge jump in thefts of e-bikes.

Electric bike thefts are on the riseElectric bike thefts are on the rise
Electric bike thefts are on the rise

It appears that increasingly sophisticated thieves are more frequently targeting higher-value electric models. While only 1.4 per cent of bike thefts involved e-bikes in 2021, this had jumped to 6.2 per cent by 2023.

West Yorkshire emerged as the e-bike theft hotspot, with 85 per cent of all bike thefts in 2023 involving an e-bike specifically.

There were more than three times as many e-bike thefts in West Yorkshire last year compared to any other area of the UK.

Top 10 areas for most e-bike thefts (2023 overall)

1. West Yorkshire: 446 thefts

2. Avon & Somerset: 144 thefts

3. North Yorkshire: 124 thefts

4. Cambridgeshire: 105 thefts

5. Dorset: 94 thefts

6. Surrey: 86 thefts

7. Kent: 52 thefts

8. Warwickshire: 37 thefts

9. Norfolk: 36 thefts

10. Northamptonshire: 36 thefts

Leeds suffered the most e-bike thefts of all areas in West Yorkshire, with more than half of cases (53 per cent) occurring in Yorkshire’s largest city.

North Yorkshire recorded the biggest year-on-year rise in e-bike thefts though, with a 176 per cent increase in 2023 compared to 2022.

Highest year-on-year increase in e-bike thefts (2023 v 2022)

1. North Yorkshire: +176 per cent

2. Northamptonshire: +44 per cent

3. Cambridgeshire: +44 per cent

4. Lancashire: +34 per cent

5. Derbyshire: +22 per cent

Bike thefts peaked in between May and October last year, and were safest in the leadup to Christmas.

The experts at Evolve e-Bikes have shared their top tips on how to avoid having your e-bike or pedal bike stolen.

Lock your bike, including the wheels as thieves often remove detachable parts of the bike.

Use more than one lock! The typical “opportunist thief” may be carrying some bolt and/or cable cutters. They will be on the lookout for chain locks, padlocks and cable locks that are relatively easily broken. More advanced or “professional” thieves may come armed with angle grinders or hacksaws, equipping them to tackle even the sturdiest u-lock and thicker chains. However, thieves will rarely come armed with the tools to tackle various types of lock at the same time. Using at least two different styles of lock – for example, a u-lock and a chain together – will give the thief a much tougher time trying to make off with your bicycle.

Don’t compromise on a lock quality. As a starting point, look out for the “Sold Secure” badge. This gives reassurance that the lock meets a certain industry standard, so you can be confident it will be secure.

The “Sold Secure” badges come in three ratings: Gold, Silver and Bronze. Gold is of course the most secure but work within your price range to find an option that fits.

Think location, location, location. When locking your bike up while out and about, location is absolutely everything. As a rule of thumb, the longer you’re leaving your bike, the more secure the area needs to be.

Before setting out on your journey, be sure to take the time to research potential locations for bike storage. Several cities have secure bike storage areas, sometimes behind locked gates, which is an ideal option for increased protection (although still be sure to follow your usual locking procedures).

Failing that, always try to find well-lit areas that are covered by CCTV. Parking your bike indoors is also a sensible option if possible. However, if you’re leaving your bicycle in communal areas such as hallways, ensure you lock it to something secure or at the very least lock the front wheel to the frame.

Register your frame number. Registering your frame number is simple. All you need to do is find the frame number, usually underneath the bike near the pedals or back wheel, and then register it on a database approved by Secured by Design. Be sure to take a note of this somewhere yourself too, along with pictures that can be used to easily identify the bike if it is taken.

Jack Ford, Evolve e-Bikes Kingston Store Manager, commented: “It is worrying to see that e-bike thefts are rising at such a rapid rate, and owners need to take the threat of increasingly clued-up thieves seriously.

“I would recommend locking your bike up in a well-lit and well-populated area where possible when you are out and about. While it might be tempting to look for a secluded spot to hide your bike away in, thieves are much more likely to be deterred by areas where they might be seen.

“It is also vital for e-bike owners to invest in an appropriate lock, with locks valued at around 10 per cent of the total cost of the bike a good rule of thumb to follow.”