Is bike theft on the rise in Tassie?

Tasmanian media has picked up on a spate of recent bicycle thefts in the state, warning that it could mean criminals are targeting high-end bikes.

Tasmania Police statistics are only up until 31 December 2020 so don't capture the past month when it's felt like bikes are being targetted. There has been a steady but small rise in bike thefts over several years and so far this year thefts are actually tracking lower than in past years: 

2017-18: 420
2018-19: 492
2019-2020: 501
1 July 2020 - 31 December 2021: 176 

This is in contrast to Victoria which has experienced a steeper rise in thefts in recent years: 2017-18: 6307; 2018-19: 6724 and climbing to 7761 in 2019-20. 

It may be that bike theft is not necessarily on the rise in Tassie but that the crooks are becoming more sophisticated in their methods. 

Police officers told Michelle and Brad Quinn, who had two mountain bikes stolen from their West Hobart garage, that mountain bike theft was an increasing problem in Tasmania and they believed that some criminals were targeting bikes by following people with bikes on their car.

The Quinns had a Yeti bike and Felt e-bike, worth $17,000 combined, stolen from their locked garage and none of the power tools or other valuable items were stolen.

Reports of stolen bikes have been steady on the Facebook groups Tassie lost/stolen Bikes and Tas MTB with several recent reports of bikes stolen from garages.

Just days after the Quinns story went public, Tracey Ukosich reported that her three bikes were stolen from the back of her van, where they were locked, while she was asleep inside it.

We’ve also heard a report that someone was trying to steal bikes from campsites at Derby recently, taking advantage of people who had not locked bikes inside their cars.

COVID shortages

One of the big problems with bikes being stolen is that the COVID pandemic has led to shortages in bikes and parts so if your bike is taken and your insurance pays out, you may not be able to replace it with a similar model.

General Manager at Bicycle Industries Australia, Peter Bourke, said he expected more bikes to come into Australia this month and next but then the North American market will head into summer and we’ll see shortages as a result.

There is also a very long waiting time for bicycle parts, with some suppliers saying bike manufacturers could be waiting up to 600 days for parts, meaning shortages are likely to last for a few years.

Fighting against thieves

There are several steps you can take to make it harder for thieves to steal your bike:

  1. Always use a good D-lock that requires an angle grinder to cut it. Many cable locks can but cut by bolt cutters and should only be for additional locking rather than as your primary lock.
  2. Lock your wheels as well as your frame and choose a spot that has lots of people walking past and is well lit. Never leave your bike parked outside overnight.

  1. Make a record of your serial number and take photos of unique features of your bike that make it different from the bikes sold in shops, such as particular scratches, changed parts, etc. You can keep this information at home or lodge with, which makes it easier to report if your bike is stolen and ensures interstate police have access to your report.
  2. Identify your bike further with trackers or data dots.
  3. Theft insurance: your home and contents insurance generally covers theft from your home but you may need specific insurance for theft outside the home such as Bicycle Network's Bike Insure
  4. Lock your bikes inside your garage/shed and lock the doors of those too. You may also want cameras installed to help deter/identify thieves.

Some people follow all these steps but still find their bikes are stolen. But having unique identifiers recorded and tracking devices may help police to recover your bike, and Bike Vault also uses volunteers and relationships with second-hand dealers to recover bikes.