About Bike Theft >The Problem >
Who Are The Victims
Bike theft is not random. Like most crime types, bicycle theft is found to concentrate on certain people and in certain places. Common locations where bicycle thefts occur include in or around the home (Loder and Bayly Ltd. 1986; Mercat and Heran, 2003; Nicholas et al. 2005; Zhang, Messner, and Liu, 2007) and at university campuses and railway stations (Replogle, 1984; Challinger, 1986).
Recent increases in the popularity of cycling as a means of transport are a likely explanation of large numbers of bicycles being reported stolen from on-street locations. In this regard, results from the British Crime Survey (BCS 2004/05) found that 18% of bike thefts in England and Wales occurred from on-street locations. Similarly in France, interviews with cycle theft victims found that the majority of cycles are stolen from on-street locations (Mercat & Heran, 2003). Certain places were victimized more often than others.
Bike theft 'hot spots' in terms of the number of thefts per 1000 resident population:
Certain people are also victimized more than others. The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) found that those aged 12-17 were 4.2 times more likely than adults to have their bicycles stolen. Students in university towns such as Oxford and Cambridge - as shown above - are also common victims, with peak bike theft levels typically coinciding with the start of university term (Hird & Ruparel, 2007). Men are generally found to use bikes five times as much as women, and in terms of the population at risk, it is possible that males are more likely to be victimised than females.
Many victims also have their bike stolen more than once. For example, a victimization survey in Holland found that across a range of crimes, victimization rates were highest for bicycle theft and prior victimization was associated with the increased likelihood of further incidents of bicycle theft (Wittebrood and Nieuwbeerta, 2000). In Melbourne, Australia, it was likewise found that just 30 percent of bike theft victims accounted for 60 percent of the bicycle thefts reported (Johnson et al. 2008).
The risk of bike theft is also found to spread in time and space and thus possess a contagion-like quality. For example, just like patterns observed for burglary and vehicle crime, further incidents of bike theft were found by Johnson, Sidebottom and Thorpe (2008) to be more likely to occur close by a previous bike theft incident and up to a distance of about 450 yards for a period of around three to five weeks.