Bike thefts and security: December update

Picture of a bike lock, cut by thieves.

Recent thefts at Winchester Sports & Leisure Centre

There have been at least two thefts from the bike shelter at WSLC in the last few weeks. In each case the thieves have cut through cable locks at the bike shelter. One theft was caught on CCTV.

Winchester City Council has provided four lockable (bring your own padlock) bike lockers and additional Sheffield stands at WSLC. These are more or less in front of the Centre entrance and so have a better level of ‘natural surveillance’ than with the existing bike racks.

We are trying to get a sign put at the bike shelter to promote the use of the racks in front of the building as we think they are likely to be less targeted by thieves; this simple step is proving hard to achieve. In the meantime please spread the word – avoid the bike shelter!

Cable locks are easy to cut; using a decent lock (Solid Secure Gold rating minimum) will deter less determined thieves. From around £30 perhaps this could be a useful Christmas present?

Thefts should be reported to the Police (101 or online) to get a crime number. You can also report the theft to WSLC reception and ask them to review the CCTV recording; this review probably won’t be done unless you ask. WSLC will pass evidence to police.

Bike Security at the Railway Station

Cycle Winchester held a meeting at the station with South Western Railways in October to discuss the spate of thefts at the station. A small online survey by Cycle Winchester of station users was also held to help understand habits and gather information about bike thefts.

Data from British Transport Police showed 66 thefts reported in 12 months. The figures SWR was using were rather lower – apparently they were using annual figures from the last financial year! Nevertheless SWR does recognise there is an issue. They have carried out additional surveillance in recent weeks.

It was a useful meeting and we came away with a better understanding of the situation. Cycle Winchester is waiting for a more detailed response from SWR hopefully with proposals that will deliver a quantifiable reduction in level of theft.

Some specific issues discussed included:

Secure parking compound

Much debate was had about the role of the secure parking compound. This has few users (4-6) despite 500 passes being in circulation with another 50 recently issued. SWR seems to be keen to promote secure parking as part of a solution to reduce thefts. But they are reluctant to release more tokens (due the number already in circulation and cost). Feedback from the survey suggests more would use it if they were able to.

In its current state the secure parking is not going to help decrease the number of thefts. A reset of the secure parking system (and/or change to access system) is required; else the space would be better used as general parking accessed from the platform. We await SWR proposals.

Station car park – Bike Hub

SWR seems keen to promote the use of the Bike Hub in the station car park over the stands in front of the station. However our survey responses included 3 thefts from the Bike Hub in the 2 weeks prior to the meeting with SWR. In the absence of any other data we would not recommend using the Bike Hub!

It is not obvious how the Bike Hub security can be improved; we’d welcome suggestions for security improvements.

Reporting thefts from the Station

Thefts should be reported to the British Transport Police (101 or online) and the station staff should be able to give advice too. You can ask that the CCTV recordings to be reviewed; however they will be reluctant to review many hours of recordings. This is unfortunate as most users a going to leave their bikes for many hours – but it’s worth a go and probably won’t happen unless you ask.

Bike security promotion

There is a huge range of locks in use at the station ranging from none to those using double D-locks and cables. Riders should be expected to take some responsibility to deter thieves and having an appropriate lock seems a reasonable step.

SWR is keen to promote bike security and will probably coordinate events with Winchester City Council over the next few months. Cycle Winchester considers this as useful, but complementary, to making improvements at the station.

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