Cycle Theft Hotspots Named And Shamed

by Corinne Webb | Dec 04, 2016



This month, Protect Your Bubble published a list of the top 100 bicycle theft hotspots, based on an analysis of recorded crime data from every police force in England and Wales, covering the year to September 2016.

Here’s what we found…

  • The worst place in to leave your bike is Elder Gate at Milton Keynes railway station
  • In the 12 months to September nearly 82,000 bikes were stolen - that’s 227 every day or nearly 1,600 a week
  • In almost three quarters (72%) of incidents the thieves got away with it

The research shows that parking your bike at a railway station carries the highest risk of it being stolen and that thieves also frequently target shopping centres, car parks, hospitals and colleges.

The latest police records for the 12 months to September this year show the locations where nearly 82,000 bikes were stolen. That’s 227 every day or nearly 1,600 a week. In 72% of incidents the thieves got away with it as the records show that no suspect was identified and the investigation was closed.

The worst place in to leave your bike is Elder Gate at Milton Keynes railway station. In the past year 72 bikes were stolen from the parking area on the street and a further 19 from another location on the road, which runs around the front of the station.

Another area next to a railway station comes second on a list of the worst locations for bike theft - Meridian Square, next to Stratford railway station in Newham, East London. The square is near to upmarket shopping centre Westfield, and the entrance to the Olympic Park.

Third on the street of shame list for cycle theft is Station Road in Cambridge. As its name indicates, it is once again a location by a mainline railway station that is a top target for the thieves.


Top Bike Theft Locations in England & Wales – October 2015 to September 2016
Rank Location City/Borough Council Area Number of Thefts
1 Elder Gate Milton Keynes 72
2 Meridian Square Newham 71
3 Station Road Cambridge 63
4 Ring Road North Birmingham 62
5 Parkside Cambridge 52
6 Commercial Road Portsmouth 51
7 Brunel Way Slough 50
8 Piccadilly Manchester 49
9 Chartwell Square Southend-on-Sea 47
10 Arundel Street Portsmouth 46


Cambridge is exposed in the research by Protect Your Bubble as the bike theft capital of the country. The area covered by Cambridge City Council clocked up 2,173 thefts in the 12 months and streets within the city account for 13 of the top 100 bike theft locations listed in the police data, more than any other local authority area.

The top five city and council areas also include Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford and Hackney – the favourite hipster hangout in northeast London.

Bike thefts October 2015 to September 2016
Rank City/Borough Council area Number of Thefts
1 Cambridge 2,173
2 Manchester 1,874
3 Birmingham 1,502
4 Oxford 1,456
5 Hackney 1,440
6 Leeds 1,353
7 Cardiff 1,340
8 Bristol 1,295
9 Tower Hamlets 1,222
10 Westminster 1,185

The bike theft problem in Cambridge and its great university rival, Oxford, is underlined when the thefts are calculated per 1,000 residents.

The overall rate for England and Wales is 1.4 thefts per 1,000 people. In Cambridge it’s 16.6 and in Oxford 9.1.

Rank City/Borough Council Bike thefts Population Thefts per 1,000 pop
1 Cambridge 2,173 130,907 16.6
2 Oxford 1,456 159,574 9.1
3 Hackney 1,440 269,009 5.4
4 York 1,069 206,856 5.2
5 Westminster 1,185 242,299 4.9
6 Norwich 666 138,872 4,8
7 Hammersmith and Fulham 852 179,410 4.7
8 Reading 731 161,739 4.5
9 Portsmouth 955 211,758 4.5
10 Camden 1,058 241,059 4.4

Places where cycling is most popular are targeted by thieves. Government figures on physical activity show that across England 9.5% of adults cycle at least once a week. In Cambridge it’s 52%, Oxford 33%, Hackney 19% and York 27% - all places with the highest prevalence of bike thefts, according to the police records.

When taken as a whole, including all the 33 boroughs, London has over a fifth of reported thefts with nearly 18,000 recorded by the Met and the City of London Police.

Perhaps the safest place to leave a bicycle is West Devon which registered only four bike thefts in the past 12 months.

South Hams, also in Devon, the Isles of Scilly and Rutland councils all had bike thefts in single figures, according to the police.

The location data recorded by the police reveals 13 colleges and 11 car parks among the top 100 places where thieves struck most frequently. Eight city centre shopping areas are also listed, including Cardiff, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Derby, Leicester, Manchester, Portsmouth and Haringey in London. There are also five hospitals in the top 100 locations where a total of 111 bikes were recorded as stolen.

Rob Basinger, head of UK at bicycle insurer Protect Your Bubble said: “When you contrast the cycle theft rate for Oxbridge with England and Wales, it’s abundantly clear these university towns are as popular with thieves as students. There’s no safety in numbers, either. In towns like Cambridge, a high number of cyclists results in a high number of thefts.

“Bike theft is a nationwide issue but there are some streets that stand out as having a particular problem. Commuters leaving bikes at railway stations for any length of the time stand a chance of being targeted.

“If you have to leave your bike on the street then make sure it is locked securely and, as with any item of value, if you think it may be at risk then consider taking out insurance for extra peace of mind.”

The table below shows the top 100 hotspots for bicycle theft in England and Wales:

Rank No of Thefts Road City/Borough Force Area
1 72 Elder Gate Milton Keynes Thames Valley Police
2 71 Meridian Square Newham Metropolitan Police Service
3 63 Station Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
4 62 Ring Road North Birmingham West Midlands Police
5 52 Parkside Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
6 51 Commercial Road Portsmouth Hampshire Constabulary
7 50 Brunel Way Slough Thames Valley Police
8 49 Piccadilly Manchester Greater Manchester Police
9 47 Chartwell Square Southend-on-Sea Essex Police
10 46 Arundel Street Portsmouth Hampshire Constabulary
11 43 Duke Street Cardiff South Wales Police
12 42 Market Street Manchester Greater Manchester Police
13 41 Wharton Place Cardiff South Wales Police
14 40 Laundry Road Southampton Hampshire Constabulary
15 38 Court Drive, Dunstable Central Bedfordshire Bedfordshire Police
16 38 Clifton Way Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
17 38 West Carriage Drive, Hyde Park Westminster Metropolitan Police Service
18 38 West Street Reading Thames Valley Police
19 36 Hills Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
20 35 Bridge Street Luton Bedfordshire Police
21 35 Oxford Road Manchester Greater Manchester Police
22 33 Dean's Court Peterborough Cambridgeshire Constabulary
23 33 Gonville Place Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
24 33 Blackshaw Road, Tooting Wandsworth Metropolitan Police Service
25 31 Parking Area, Sherwood Pines Forest Park Newark and Sherwood Nottinghamshire Police
26 30 Park Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
27 30 Tauheed Close Hackney Metropolitan Police Service
28 30 Clifton Boulevard Nottingham Nottinghamshire Police
29 29 Downing College, Regent Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
30 29 UCL, Gower Street Camden Metropolitan Police Service
31 28 Flaxland Peterborough Cambridgeshire Constabulary
32 28 Clissold Road Hackney Metropolitan Police Service
33 28 Waterloo Road Lambeth Metropolitan Police Service
34 28 Victoria Square Leeds West Yorkshire Police
35 27 Leeds University, Woodhouse Lane Leeds West Yorkshire Police
36 26 Park Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
37 26 West Bargate Southampton Hampshire Constabulary
38 26 High Street Leicester Leicestershire Police
39 26 Church Gate Leicester Leicestershire Police
40 26 South Lambeth Place Lambeth Metropolitan Police Service
41 26 Station Approach Reading Thames Valley Police
42 26 Westgate Birmingham West Midlands Police
43 25 Burleigh Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
44 25 Stovell Road Windsor and Maidenhead Thames Valley Police
45 24 Mortimer Road Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
46 24 Hull University, Cottingham Road Kingston upon Hull Humberside Police
47 24 De Montford University, Mayors Walk Leicester Leicestershire Police
48 24 Broad Lane Haringey Metropolitan Police Service
49 24 Magdalen Street Oxford Thames Valley Police
50 24 Tascroft Wiltshire Wiltshire Police
51 23 London Road Derby Derbyshire Constabulary
52 23 Stonehills Welwyn Hatfield Hertfordshire Constabulary
53 23 Lambeth Palace Road Lambeth Metropolitan Police Service
54 23 Maples Place Tower Hamlets Metropolitan Police Service
55 23 Nightingale Place Kensington and Chelsea Metropolitan Police Service
56 23 Pepper Lane Coventry West Midlands Police
57 22 Victoria Street St Albans British Transport Police
58 22 Warren Close Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
59 22 East Street Derby Derbyshire Constabulary
60 22 Stamford New Road Trafford Greater Manchester Police
61 22 Queen Street Cardiff South Wales Police
62 22 Wood Street Cardiff South Wales Police
63 22 Birmingham Women's Hospital, Mindelsohn Way Birmingham West Midlands Police
64 21 Duke Street Chelmsford British Transport Police
65 21 Brighton Place Manchester Greater Manchester Police
66 21 Hardman Street Manchester Greater Manchester Police
67 21 Portland Street Portsmouth Hampshire Constabulary
68 21 Ariel Way Hammersmith and Fulham Metropolitan Police Service
69 20 Midgate Peterborough Cambridgeshire Constabulary
70 20 Alder Lane Warrington Cheshire Constabulary
71 20 Eastgate Shopping Cente Gloucester Gloucestershire Constabulary
72 20 Post Office Lane Cheltenham Gloucestershire Constabulary
73 20 St Peter's Square Manchester Greater Manchester Police
74 20 Broadway Market Hackney Metropolitan Police Service
75 20 New Ealing Broadway Ealing Metropolitan Police Service
76 20 Saint Leonard's Place York North Yorkshire Police
77 20 Blossomfield Road Solihull West Midlands Police
78 19 Silver Street Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
79 19 Ravenfield Road Welwyn Hatfield Hertfordshire Constabulary
80 19 University Road Charnwood Leicestershire Police
81 19 Saint Mark's Square Lincoln Lincolnshire Police
82 19 Mile End Road Tower Hamlets Metropolitan Police Service
83 19 Watermead Way Haringey Metropolitan Police Service
84 19 University Hosptial Wales, Heath Park Road Cardiff South Wales Police
85 19 Elder Gate Milton Keynes Thames Valley Police
86 19 John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way Oxford Thames Valley Police
87 19 High Street Oxford Thames Valley Police
88 18 St Tibb's Row Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary
89 18 High Street Chelmsford Essex Police
90 18 University of Portsmouth, Cambridge Road Portsmouth Hampshire Constabulary
91 18 Tannery Lane Ashford Kent Police
92 18 Gravel Street Leicester Leicestershire Police
93 18 North Promenade Sefton Merseyside Police
94 18 Victoria Street Liverpool Merseyside Police
95 18 Loop Road Newham Metropolitan Police Service
96 18 Prince Regent Road Hounslow Metropolitan Police Service
97 18 Brixton Road Lambeth Metropolitan Police Service
98 18 Cambridge Heath Road Tower Hamlets Metropolitan Police Service
99 18 Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, Colney Road South Norfolk Norfolk Constabulary
100 18 University of East Anglia, Suffolk Road Norwich Norfolk Constabulary

Source:, analysed by Protect Your Bubble

Methodology: Based on the most recent recorded crime data from all police forces in England and Wales covering the 12 months October 2015 to September 2016.

Data source links:


If you’re a journalist, and you need any more information, please contact:

Emily Garnham, Rhizome Media



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