FEWER than one percent of bicycle thieves were caught in Brighton and Hove during 2021, figures have revealed.

An FOI put in by The Argus revealed that only two people were charged despite 929 bicycle thefts in the city between January 1 and November 30, last year. That makes 0.22 per cent.

Out of 624 bicycles stolen in Brighton, 594 investigations were completed with no suspect identified. While in Hove, 295 bike thefts had no identifiable suspect out of the 305 stolen. The reasons for the remaining figures were reasons such as evidential difficulties or "not applicable".

One theft resulted in a "community resolution" which often means the person has admitted the theft, or the victim does not want formal action taken.

Out of the total, two people were charged the figures show.

One bicycle campaign group said the small number of thieves caught highlights the need for bicycle hangars in the city, with many people in small flats and houses having “nowhere secure to keep a bike”.

Robert Nemeth, Conservative transport spokesman, said while bicycle hangars would be a good idea in most places, he thinks they will get “smashed up” in Brighton and Hove.

Meanwhile, Sussex Police said they take bike theft “extremely seriously” and continue to work in the community to tackle the root causes of crimes such as bicycles being stolen.

The figures come after The Argus revealed Brighton and Hove City Council’s plans to install 100 bike hangars around the city early this year, which is set to cost £500,000.

The council is looking to encourage active transport in the city with the introduction of bike hangars and its survey garnered over 2000 responses.

Chris Williams, chairman of Bricycles which is a cycling campaign group for safer roads, said the figures highlight the need for more secure bicycle storage.

The Argus: Chris Williams from Bricycles believes more priority should be put towards active transportChris Williams from Bricycles believes more priority should be put towards active transport

He said: “People who live in flats and small houses often have nowhere secure to keep a bike, which is why the bike hangars the council is installing are so important.

“You can securely park a car in one of the city’s 42,000 on-street parking spaces, but there are currently just a handful of secure cycle parking spaces. This is a big incentive to drive and a disincentive to cycle.”

While Cllr Robert Nemeth said a “change of direction” is needed to reduce the number of people turning to theft in the city.

Cllr Nemeth said: “The underlying issue is of course why the current local approach to anti-social behaviour generally is producing gangs of bike thieves, graffiti vandals and other undesirable characters.

The Argus: The same design of bicycle hangars have been a success in LondonThe same design of bicycle hangars have been a success in London

“Anywhere else, the principle of secure bike storage would probably be sound but, in Brighton & Hove, the sheds will obviously get smashed up and not be fixed as we see daily on all other street furniture such as communal bins.

“A change of direction to stop the creation of bike thieves in the first place is required and should be the number one priority.”

Chief Inspector Andy Westwood said Sussex Police takes the matter very seriously but added that people are often unaware their bike has been stolen, which makes evidence gathering difficult for the police.

He said: “We understand how important bikes are to people in Brighton and Hove and we take all reports of bike theft extremely seriously.

“Please be assured that all reports are recorded and all viable lines of enquiry are fully investigated.

“While there is a low number of charges relating to theft of a pedal bike, the return of many stolen bikes are often recorded under other crimes – for example where an offender has been charged with burglary and stolen items, including bikes, are discovered in their possession.

“Unfortunately, victims of bike theft are often not aware of the crime for some time after it has taken place and the act itself rarely raises the suspicions of passing members of the public, which makes evidence gathering challenging.

“We carry out a great deal of work with our partners in the community to tackle the root causes of crimes such as these, as well as making sure victims are fully supported once a crime is reported.

“It is important victims continue to report any thefts to us as soon as possible and also take note of any identifiable features, such as serial numbers and distinctive marks so that, should that property later be recovered, it can be returned to its rightful owner.

“Particularly over the festive period, our advice to people who have received a new bike is to take photographs of any distinguishing features and serial numbers so that, should it unfortunately go missing, it can be more easily returned if retrieved.

“Please report any crimes to us online via the Sussex Police website, by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

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