Tough lessons: England's universities are bike theft hot spots

A depressingly common sight at universities across England
Rob Kingston's picture

Tough lessons: England's universities are bike theft hot spots

Data released by Cycling UK and Yellow Jersey insurance reveal how widespread cycle crime is in university towns and cities across England
  • Figures cover university areas of the 10 towns and cities with highest student populations in England
  • On average one cycle theft was recorded for every 66 students
  • Cambridge topped the table with 1,747 instances of theft, or one for every 22 students, followed by Bristol and Oxford
  • Education buildings are the second most common location for cycle theft within these towns and cities
  • 96% of cases either resulted in no suspect being identified or had no outcome recorded; only 0.15% resulted in a suspect being charged or cautioned
  • Students can claim a free BikeRegister security marking kit when they join Cycling UK, as well as discounted Yellow Jersey cycle insurance

Cycling UK is calling on students to protect their bikes, as new figures reveal the extent of cycle theft in England’s biggest university towns and cities.

Using data from its insurance partner Yellow Jersey, the UK’s cycling charity looked at reported cycle theft figures across the 10 locations with the highest student populations in England.

Unsurprisingly, giving its fame as a cycling city, Cambridge was the number-one location for cycle theft, with 1,747 instances between April 2020 and March 2021. With a student population of approximately 38,000, that equates to 0.046 thefts per student, or about one theft for every 22 students in the city.

Bristol was next on the list, with 1,612 thefts at an average of 0.0278 per student, or one theft for every 36 students.

The full top 10 list is shown below:

Town/city

Instances

Students

Thefts per student

Cambridge

1747

38000

0.0460

Bristol

1612

58055

0.0278

Oxford

1097

42810

0.0256

Leeds

1050

59620

0.0176

Birmingham

1013

67620

0.0150

Newcastle upon Tyne

796

56395

0.0141

Liverpool

770

54650

0.0141

Nottingham

618

70625

0.0088

Sheffield

458

61015

0.0075

Manchester

23

95405

0.0002

Total

9184

604195

0.0152

In addition to numbers of thefts recorded, the data was broken down by location of theft.

Of those thefts where the location was defined, “further/higher education building” was the second most frequent among the 10 towns and cities on the list, accounting for 18.6% of thefts.

“Parking area” was the most frequent, with 19.3%, and “supermarket” was third, with 14.8%.

Location

Instances

% of instances

Parking area

401

19.3%

Further/higher education building

386

18.6%

Supermarket

306

14.8%

Shopping area

294

14.2%

Hospital

144

6.9%

Sports/recreation area

143

6.9%

Nightclub

106

5.1%

Pedestrian subway

104

5.0%

Petrol station

98

4.7%

Theatre/concert hall

92

4.4%

Total

2074

100%

Out of the 9,184 total thefts, 4,150, or 45%, were recorded as having an investigation completed with no suspect identified. A further 4,661, or 51%, had no outcome status recorded, and only 13 (0.15%) resulted in a suspect being charged or cautioned.

Commenting on the figures, Georgina Cox, Cycling UK’s head of membership, said: “Cycling is a cheap, healthy and sustainable way for students to travel to and from university, but with thousands of bikes being stolen each year, it’s vital to take precautions. Joining Cycling UK directly supports our campaigning work and includes free third-party liability insurance and legal support, plus discounts on bike insurance with Yellow Jersey.”

Membership for students costs £2.54 per month, and if you join before 30 November you can receive a free Bike Register security marking kit worth £12.99.

Cycling UK’s website includes extensive advice on how to lock a bike securely as well as top tips for cycling at university.

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please call Rob Kingston on 07880 424 912 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often.
  2. Yellow Jersey insurance was launched in 2014 by three brothers who are active cyclists and triathletes. The company believes that cyclists want to be on the bike as much as possible, and dealing with insurance is probably the last thing on their mind. Yellow Jersey’s vision is give you more time to ride, by making insurance as easy and stress-free as possible.
  3. Cycling UK members get £50 off an annual Yellow Jersey policy.
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