BBC goes on the trail of the bicycle thieves

Documentary investigates why so few stolen bikes are returned to owners

A BBC programme will explain how organised crimes gangs and opportunistic thieves are leading epidemic proportions of bike theft.

According to BBC freedom of information requests to 10 police forces across the Midlands, almost 18,000 bikes were reported stolen in 2012 but only six percent were returned to owners.

Speaking to the BBC, Carl Robinson from West Midlands Police Crime Reduction Team said the actual number of bikes stolen could be up to four times that number. People often fail to report stolen bikes because they do not think it worthwhile. "That figure is probably just the tip of the iceberg, it is a real problem,” he said.

The programme, to be shown in BBC Inside Out West Midlands  tonight, left a bike fitted with a GPS tracker in Birmingham city centre and within eight hours it had been stolen. The production team tracked the bike to a nearby block of flats where it was being ridden around by a teenager.

According to Dave Luscombe, from bike marking company DataTag, bike theft is reaching "epidemic proportions". He said: "10 percent of all bikes bought are now stolen. That’s one every three minutes… half a million bikes stolen every year."

Inside Out West Midlands will be shown on BBC1 at 7.30pm tonight and will be on BBC iPlayer for seven days

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