Bike thefts have increased, according to campus security, as thieves are beginning to use more elaborate methods.
Over the past two months, 14 thefts have been reported to security services across all Imperial campuses, a sharp increase from the four thefts reported the two months prior. In total, since January 47 cycle crimes have been reported to security.
The College’s Security team have stated “the vast majority of bikes taken are targeted by professional thieves due to them being secured with inferior cable type locks”, and recommend purchasing a stronger lock, such as a D-lock or heavy duty chain.
However, thieves have been using more elaborate methods to get to bikes: on Friday 24th November, a staff member had her bike stolen on South Kensington campus by two thieves who used a grinder to cut through the lock. CCTV footage showed the theft occurred at 10.30am, and both suspects were wearing balaclavas. The bike, which was a Brompton model, was worth around £1,000. The incident has been reported to the police, and images of the suspects passed on.
One student Felix spoke to, who had their bike stolen in May of this year from opposite the Skempton Building, was using the D-lock sold by campus security, which they said was “as good as useless when it came to securing my bike”. Security informed the student the total time for the theft was under a minute.
“One student said that the recommended D-lock was ‘as good as useless when it came to my bike’”
South Kensington campus currently has a number of areas for bicycle parking, with space for approximately 1500 bikes. However, around 500 of these spaces are not access-controlled, such as the stands in Beit Quadrangle. The demand for space also seems to outstrip demand, with sources reporting bicycles chained to inappropriate places, such as gas bottle cages.
A number of staff and students have recommended parking space underneath the Faculty Building is converted into secure storage. Currently, the Faulty bicycle store has space for nearly 600 bicycles, and some have suggested converting areas within the same complex used as parking spaces to bicycle stores would negate some of the issues around space.
Dr Bradley Ladewig, a senior lecturer in the Department of Chenical Engineering, has said that “having a safe and secure bicycle storage space that would benefit several hundred staff and students each day is more important than parking for a maximum of 17 staff (no students)”
Official advice from College security is to “use heavy duty chains or ‘A’ graded D locks”, since ”criminals will remove inferior locks such as disc locks in seconds.” Security sell to staff and students at a discount – £35 instead of £90. In their advice, they highlight: “criminals are highly likely to increase their activities this time of year.” Security recommend reporting anyone loitering around cycle parks by phoning 4444 or 0207589 1000