Motorcycle theft reduced to zero in Westminster ‘hotspot’
Motorcycle thieves are now avoiding St James’s Square in London, thanks to a series of anti-theft initiatives after the Square was identified as one of four ‘hotspots’ for motorcycle theft by Westminster City Council.
Since September though, none have been taken from St James’s Square, as a result of a series of measures put in place by the Council through working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and security marking specialists Datatag. The success of this scheme means similar activity could be rolled out to other ‘hotspots’ in the city.
Westminster City Council and Datatag advertised a day in September to offer riders the chance to get their motorcycles security ‘tagged’ on site for just £50, including fitting. Tagging involves applying a combination of highly visible and hidden security markers, which act as a powerful deterrent to theft and also help the police recover vehicles if they are stolen.
Paul King, Community Protection Officer for Westminster City Council explained ‘We are determined to reduce motorcycle theft in the City of Westminster and to give parking customers the best possible experience, which includes coming back to find your bike where you parked it. We have applied a combination of measures in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and Datatag, which alerts riders as to the risk and gives them the means to avoid them.
“We would also urge any rider who parks near an anchor point to make sure they use it. All these measures clearly work, but only if riders stay vigilant.”
Steve Kenward, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association, which invented the MASTER* Security Scheme – the UK’s first national, official tagging scheme for new bikes, says this concerted effort by Westminster City Council proves that marking works “We are delighted to hear the part security marking is playing in eliminating theft in St James’s Square and applaud Westminster City Council’s systematic approach in dealing with it and would like to see other London councils making such an effort.
“The underlying message gained from this exercise is that thieves like easy pickings. Make it as hard as possible for them to steal in the first place and if they do, make sure your bike is marked. This makes it easy for the police to secure a prosecution when they find a stolen motorcycle or scooter and helps them return it to its rightful owner.
“Riders who don’t want the inconvenience of having a motorcycle or scooter stolen have a number of options. They now have a huge choice of new bikes which are automatically MASTER tagged, and they can have older bikes security marked retrospectively. We feel this is clearly acting as a huge deterrent to thieves, who are switching their attention to unmarked bikes. Thieves are looking for easy pickings, so make sure your bike doesn’t fall into that category.
Westminster City Council has since added 78 ground anchors to the parking bay, which offer an additional highly visible deterrent. When riders secure their bikes to anchor points it makes it difficult for thieves to just lift up a scooter or motorcycle and put it into a van – a common way for thieves to steal an unsecured bike.
Over the past few years an average of 24,000 motorcycles have been stolen annually in the UK, half of which are taken from London streets. Of all vehicles stolen in Westminster, 55% are motorcycles.
This is becoming much less of a problem for newer bikes, as most major manufacturers have signed up to the MASTER scheme, which means bikes are tagged from the beginning. This scheme was developed two years ago with Home Office backing, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police force and with support from the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Over 70,000 new motorcycles and scooters have now been protected and registered with the MASTER Security Scheme since January 2013 and first year figures for the scheme show that theft rate of protected bikes is just 0.6%, compared to an historic rate of 2.4%.
With new bikes being protected the problem is shifting to unmarked older bikes. Motorcycles or scooters which are unprotected by security marking or any visible means of security are now far more likely to be stolen than those which are protected.
So the easy answer is get marked and get protected!