About Bike Theft >The Problem >
4. Increasing guardianship
Can ‘eyes on the street’ serve to deter criminals and reduce crime? Natural surveillance may increase the visibility of bicycle theft, but bystander intervention is by no means assured. Similarly, CCTV does not guarantee the security of bikes nor will it necessarily act as a suitable deterrent. Thorpe (2007) for example found that on a bicycle parking site in central London covered by three separate CCTV cameras, on average one bicycle was stolen per week. Furthermore, over a six month interval no bike thieves were apprehended using this footage.
To increase guardianship and reduce bicycle theft, many schemes have been developed. Some deploy informed, empowered and motivated guardians such as attendants or security guards, who have a claim of ownership to the facility. For example, bike-rental schemes such as those typical in Amsterdam have cycle repair shops strategically located in bike parks. Throughout Europe bicycle repair shops are often situated in parking locations that thereby benefit from increased guardianship. In Sint-Niklass (Belgium) a supervised bicycle shed was implemented at the train station which required cyclists to subscribe to use the facility. A report by Van Limbergen and colleagues (1996) suggested that over a one-year period following inauguration of this scheme no cycles were reported stolen from the facility. There is of course an ongoing financial cost associated with staffing such schemes. Some Dutch authorities use subsidized labour, and give attendant jobs to prisoners (reformed drug addicts) who are returning to normal life and need a first job.