1,632 bikes stolen in Islington last year... only 35 recovered

ONLY two per cent of bikes reported stolen in Islington last year were recovered by police, it has been revealed.

According to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there were 1,632 bicycle theft offences in Islington in 2010, but only 35 of these have reached “recovered” status.

And only 20 people faced proceedings in relation to these offences, with 16 being charged and four being cautioned.

Time spent investigating bike thefts was also revealed to be low, with 73 per cent of cases being closed within three days of the initial report of the incident, 78 per cent within seven days, and 84 per cent closed within 14 days without the bicycle being recovered or anyone legal proceedings started.

Alex Sharp, a 22-year-old student, of Newington Green, Islington, who had his bike stolen from Northampton Square, Finsbury, in October last year, was told by police that his case would not be taken any further just two days after it was opened.

He said: “To a student, a bike is worth a lot, both in its value, and because travel in London is so expensive.

“It is disappointing to hear that such little effort seems to be put in to investigating bike theft when it happens so often.”

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Islington police has defended the figures, saying officers take bike crime very seriously and will investigate fully when there is sufficient evidence. But it claims thefts are often difficult to detect because of their “opportunist nature”.

An Islington police spokeswoman said: “If opportunities to further investigate these cases are not available, then they are closed. However, these investigations will always be reopened if more information becomes available.”

For cyclists though, it is of little consolation. Andreas Kambanis, who runs the blog London Cyclist, said: “The figures provide a depressing look at the lack of action by authorities. They also show a failure to take bike crime seriously.”

Islington was the London borough with the second highest bike crime rate last year, after Westminster, who had 1,898 offences reported. But according to bike registry scheme Bike Revolution, the number of bikes actually stolen is usually four or five times higher than those reported.

Alison Dines, co-ordinator of Islington Cyclists’ Action Group, said they were aware of the high number of thefts in the borough and that low recovery rates did “not incentivise people to report thefts”.