Manchester bike thefts to be tackled as new scheme announced

  • Bike thefts are a common occurrence in Manchester
  • Levenshulme has an incredibly active cycling community
  • A new initiative looks to lower the crime rate

Between 2022 and 2023, a bicycle was stolen once every seven minutes in the United Kingdom. While the North West ranked on the safer end of the scale for the bike thefts, Manchester is still seen by some as a risky place to own one

In a bid to address this, members of the Greater Manchester Police have launched a new initiative which they hope will see bike theft rates plummet. 

PC Martin Catterall is one of three officers who spent Friday afternoon outside the Station South Cycle Cafe in Levenshulme, placing stickers on bikes brought in by the public. He says that bike thefts are a constant problem, but hopes that the new system will help put a dent in the number reported stolen.

Photo of police officers in high-vis vests attaching a sticker to the underside of a bike.
Stickers such as these are used to track bikes, making it harder for thieves to pass them off as their own. Credit: Raphael Boyd

The scheme

“I’m the officer who covers this area and certainly at the moment we’re seeing a bit of a rise”, said Catterall, who claims that the stickers act as both a deterrent to possible thieves, as well as a way for shops to spot stolen bikes more easily.

Catterall said that it was “really encouraging to see so many people come and get involved”, and that the entire process only took two minutes to complete.

The stickers include a QR code, which after being registered online, will add the bike to the national bike register, which makes bikes easier to track. One is placed on a visible part of the bike, while a second is placed somewhere harder to find.

Bike thefts are often seen as amongst the hardest crimes to track down and prosecute, with just 1% of reported cases leading to charges being brought forward.

Community reaction

Tom, who works in the Bike Station repair shop attached to Station South, is an avid cyclist but admits Levenshulme isn’t the safest place for bikes. 

He has said that he would immediately report any bikes bearing the stickers which were brought into his shop, and feels like the stickers are a good first step. 

The front of a shop named Bike Station.
hshshssb Credit: Raphael Boyd

“I think anything that provides a bit of a deterrent is good, because it’s a bit of a wild west round here at the moment,” he said.

With Manchester recently being named the first ever European Capital of Cycling, there are hopes in the cycling community that thefts will become a thing of the past and that riding a bike will become a more normalised part of the daily routine.

Though Tom feels that the city isn’t “quite there yet” with its cycling culture, he believes that initiatives like this have it on the right track.