Bikes are increasingly targeted by thieves, as they are relatively easy to steal and can often be worth hundreds of pounds. According to AA Insurance, hundreds of cyclists fall victim to theft every day, with incidences increasing during the summer months.
June to October is the busiest period for cycle theft, according to the Home Office's British Crime Survey - but cyclists can fall victim at any time of the year.
Darren Black, head of home insurance at Confused.com, says: "More often than not, bikes are easy pickings for thieves as people often leave them unlocked while they quickly pop into shops.
"It doesn't take a long time for a thief to spot an unattended target and ride off on it.”
Tips to protect your bike
There are two main ways to protect yourself from falling victim to bike thieves: by making sure you keep your bike secure at all times and by covering yourself with insurance.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says victims of bike theft may be able to claim on their home and contents policy, as long as this extends to personal belongings outside the home. But he warns that insurers would need to be satisfied that victim have taken adequate security precautions to prevent theft.
In terms of security, it is well worth investing in one (if not several) heavy-duty bike locks, which can be bought online or in all good cycle shops. When locking your bike, try to make sure it is secured to an immovable object through the frame and the wheel. The bike lock should always face down towards the pavement, as this makes it harder to pick.
Generally speaking you should also try and lock your bike in special parking racks, which tend to be scattered across city centres and in supermarket car parks, for example. Busy and well-lit areas are less likely to be targeted by thieves.
When at home, try and keep your bike chained up in a shed or at least hidden away so it is not on view to opportunistic passersby.
You should also ensure your bike has security marking, such as a serial number, to deter thieves. An ultraviolet marking pen can also be used to mark your postcodes on the frame, so it can be easily identified by you or the police.
As well as keeping your bike secure – even if you only leave it for a few minutes – you should also think about insurance. Many home and contents policies will cover bikes as an add-on or as part as your personal belongings cover. This may or may not include theft when the bike was away from your home, so make sure you check your policy carefully.
MORE TH>N, for example, covers you for bike loss or theft when away from the home up to £1,500 per bicycle as standard on its home contents insurance.
You can also buy specific insurance to cover your bike, although make sure it isn’t already covered by your home contents policy first.
Take a photo of your bike and keep the purchase details safe - you may need these if you have to claim on your insurance later on.