I’ve only been stopped once by police officers here in London to prove that the bike I was riding was indeed mine. I’m surprised police forces don’t do it more often as it can bring results in detecting bike theft like a recent campaign in Preston by Lancashire Police shows.
Lancashire Police has in the last fortnight been asking cyclists to prove the bikes they are riding are their own.
Proof of ownership
The rider is then asked to prove, either with a receipt or some other proof, that the bicycle actually belongs to them. A failure to convince the police that the bike is not their own could see the bike being confiscated by the police.
We asked Lancashire Police to clarify what they termed as proof of ownership. They told us that if someone is stopped and cannot verify ownership on the spot, the bike can be seized and the person riding it will be asked to provide documents to prove ownership at a police station in order to get the bike back.
Acceptable documentation regarding ownership is a receipt, a photograph of the rider on the bike seized, a house insurance document/bicycle insurance document that has the bike listed or a bank statement showing the purchase of the bike from a cycle shop. Lancashire Police said that inquiries could also be carried out with the shop that the bike was bought from to confirm ownership.
The decision on a police officer seizing a bike where proof of ownership has not been proved is left very much to the individual officer concerned and Lancashire Police is keen to stress that not every bike is confiscated.
Police officers are of course not stopping every cyclist out riding their bike. People are only stopped from riding their bikes if an officer believes that the bike could be stolen, Lancashire Police told us. For instance, a man who is riding a woman’s bike or a child’s bike will be stopped as that instantly rouses suspicion.
Results so far
Neighbourhood officers in the Fulwood area of Preston have already seized 17 bikes in a fortnight after suspecting them to be stolen. One seized bikes has already been returned to the rightful owner.