The move is one of a number of joint agency initiatives being launched across Morecambe and Lancaster as part of Operation Chainguard, aimed at reducing bicycle thefts in the area and increasing the ability to return a stolen bike to its owner.
Shoppers purchasing bikes at participating cycle stores will be asked to register their contact details, along with the manufacturer, model, colour, and frame serial number of their new bicycle. This information will then be stored on a centralised, secure database, which can be accessed by police officers should the bike then be stolen.
Current figures show that around one bike is stolen every day in Northern Division, which covers Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre.
“Bicycle theft is not a unique problem to the area and happens across the country," notes PC Ben Hanley from Morecambe Police. "However, Lancaster and Morecambe are popular places for cyclists to get about by bike, both for commuting and for pleasure, so the theft of a cycle can be a real inconvenience for the owner.
"Unfortunately, the main identifying characteristic – the bike’s serial number – is rarely recorded or stored where police can have access to it. This means our ability to recover a stolen bicycle, and then return it to its rightful owner, is greatly reduced.”
“Operation Chainguard will see a joint approach to tackling bike crime in the Lancaster and Morecambe area," feels Rachel Scott, Lancaster City Council Cycling Project Co-ordinator. "The introduction of this DVLA-style registration database will greatly increase the chances of any recovered, stolen bikes being returned to their rightful owner.”
Local bicycle shops have pledged their commitment to Operation Chainguard and arrangements are being made for roadshow-style events to take place across the area. So far, signed up partners include Destination Cycles, The Edge, Oggy’s Cycles, Dynostart, Halfords, Leisure Lakes, Bay Bikes, Motormania with others to follow.
Operation Chainguard will also see a number of other measures being introduced to help reduce the number of bicycle thefts. However, cyclists can also take a number of preventative steps to help them becoming the victim of crime:
- Bicycles should be locked away in garages or sheds when not in use – and if this is not possible then use a good quality lock and chain to secure the bike to something sturdy.
It's even better if you can use two locks on your bike, and wrap them through the frame rather than the wheels as these can be removed by thieves.
If you are out and about on your bike, always lock it up when you need to leave it – even if you are just nipping into a shop for a few minutes.
If you must leave your bike in a secluded area for any length of time, consider removing your seat and taking it with you – a bike without a seat is an uncomfortable prospect for a thief.
Don’t put off noting down your bike details – it could be the information Police need to reunite both cycle and owner. Distinctive marks, custom parts and additional graphics all help to identify specific cycles if stolen.
• If you've already got a bike then you can still register it. Just fill in your details at www.celebratingcycling.org/bikereg and they will pass them onto the Police.