Owners register their cycles with Met Police in war on London’s bike thieves

Police support officer Heidi Whatman marking bike for identity

Police support officer Heidi Whatman marking bike for identity - Credit: Archant

A campaign to arrest the spread of bike thieving in London’s East End has been waged by police in a bid to trace owners when stolen machines are ever recovered.

Indelible code is templated onto the bike frame

Indelible code is templated onto the bike frame - Credit: Archant

A police roadshow has been stopping off at Victoria Park throughout the summer offering riders free registration and identity markings.

Owners fill out forms with their name and address and are given a unique code-number identifying their machine put on the Met Police database.

Police support officer Heidi Whatman and her Tower Hamlets Division team based in Bow use a template to fix the indelible code onto the bike frame.

Cyclists have been queuing up each Thursday in the park to get their bikes registered.

Michael Ryan gets his bike marked

Michael Ryan gets his bike marked - Credit: Archant


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City office worker Michael Ryan never got around to having his bike marked in the two years he has been riding, but took the opportunity when he saw the police roadshow on his way home from work.

“It’s very worrying—I know a lot of people who’ve had their bikes stolen,” Michael said.

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“I had my wheels stolen before because they weren’t chained up properly.

“I leave the house each morning and always wonder if my bike is still there.”

Lucy Chapman and her new bike

Lucy Chapman and her new bike - Credit: Archant

But having a bike marked indelibly is no protection against theft.

It can still be snatched off the streets, however well it is marked—something Lucy Chapman discovered when her bike was taken recently.

“My previous bike was marked and still got stolen,” she told the East London Advertiser.

“It was never traced. The police didn’t locate it—they even suggested I try looking for it down Brick Lane.”

Owners queue in Vicky Park to register their bikes

Owners queue in Vicky Park to register their bikes - Credit: Archant

Many stolen machines end up at the Sunday street market, now regularly patrolled by officers from Bethnal Green police station.

Lucy’s £800 bike was insured anyway, so she didn’t try and find it from a dodgy dealer in the market.

She brought a replacement instead, but decided on a cheaper £200 model in case it also got stolen.

The police roadshow marks as many as 60 machines in a day, stepping up the crime prevention campaign in a never-ending war to stop the East End’s dubious trade in stolen bikes—many turning up in Brick Lane on a Sunday morning.

Bike registration roadshow in Victoria Park

Bike registration roadshow in Victoria Park - Credit: Archant

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