Bike theft costs cyclists £65m a year

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The Independent Online

An epidemic in bike theft is costing cyclists £65m a year, according to research published today by Direct Line Home Insurance. The insurer said that 1,200 bikes were now stolen in Britain every day, the equivalent of 439,000 over the course of a year.

More than half the bikes stolen were not properly covered by insurance, Direct Line warned. While home contents policies typically cover the theft of a bicycle from the owner's property, up to a certain amount, most machines are stolen away from home. Only policies that have been specifically extended to cover bikes outside of the home will pay out on such thefts.

To illustrate the growing problem of bike theft, Direct Line left 10 locked bikes in cities around the UK and paid agents to check on them every hour.

The majority of the bikes were stolen within 24 hours, with the bikes left in London, Manchester and Liverpool all being stolen within less than two hours.

Andrew Lowe, Direct Line's head of home insurance, said that one problem was that the growth of online auction sites had made it much easier for bike thieves to sell the machines on. Lowe accused many buyers of turning a blind eye to the real origins of their machines.

"Bike sales are less regulated than ever and buyers are unlikely to ask about the origin of the bike," said Lowe. "Nearly half of all second-hand bikes bought last year were purchased over the internet, highlighting the need for consumers to make their own inquiries."

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