Cycle Task Force introduce harsh punishments for bike thievesShareThis
The prosecution rate for bike thieves has fallen to as little as two per cent. But that could soon be changing, with the Cycle Task Force pushing for thieves to be punished for the entirety of their criminal careers.
Cycle crime intelligence
“When we started the intelligence wasn’t there, whereas now we understand how these gangs work,” says Sergeant Titus Halliwell; “We are now coming across the same people again, and linking them to different groups.”
Without witnesses, it is difficult to prove who has stolen a bike, and so often the thief will only be charged for handling stolen goods. Rather than taking the time to investigate further, police officers have frequently taken the one seized bike in isolation.
But, thanks to the Proceeds of Crime Act, police can order the payback of thousands of pounds, and can recover a criminal’s property if necessary.
“A lot of cases are now involving financial investigations, looking into the person’s history,” says Vicky Barnes, spokesperson for the Cycle Task Force.
The true cost of bike theft
“We’ve linked people back to over £40,000 worth of bike sales in their careers,” says Titus. “If they don’t pay it back, when their parents die, it comes out of inheritance, and when they die, anything they have pays it.”
This payback approach aims to stop bike theft being a low-risk venture, as mobile phone theft was a few years ago.
“We’re working with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Magistrates’ Courts to make magistrates aware of the importance of bikes,” Titus adds.
He cites one recent example from Isleworth Crown Court where a thief would normally have had a slap on the wrist, but thanks to intelligence, is now in custody. An online sale was picked up and the police went to the property, where they found two other stolen bikes. While the suspect was at the police station the following morning, the police found an additional two bikes at his home.
“All four bikes we found we had owners for. The courts have remanded him in custody for seven weeks until his case is heard,” Titus says proudly.
As more high-profile cases are brought to court, the force hopes that the attractiveness of stealing bikes will decrease, and debt will be left locked securely to the thief.
The Cycle Task Force, part of the Safer Transport Command, is funded by Transport for London
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