You all know that my bike was stolen yesterday and that it upset me greatly. I wrote about it here.
You also know that when I reported it to the police, I was given an “appointment slot” because no-one was available to come and see me either straight away or later that day. A police officer was going to come and see me sometime between 10am and 12noon to have a chat about what happened, see where the theft took place, and start some sort of investigation.
Just after 10am today a police officer phoned me and said that actually they wouldn’t come and see me after all. Instead they would go and view the CCTV that was available from my employer and go from there. They also asked me to email them a photograph, which I did straight away. They would then come back to me.
I know the theft was captured on CCTV as my work has told me. I know the bike was taken just before 1.40pm by someone in a hooded top, who’s face was never on camera. I haven’t heard from the police since this morning so I don’t know if they have actually viewed the footage or if they are doing anything else to try and find out who it was.
I do know, though, that Lincolnshire Police have noticed there is a problem. Just after midday they posted this press release on their website, which was subsequently reported by several local media outlets.
I am not sure whether my open anger and upset about my bike being stolen from right under my nose triggered Lincolnshire Police to write this press release, but it’s a bit of a coincidence and very timely if not.
My main problem here is that it felt yesterday and again this morning like the police weren’t really bothered about this theft. They didn’t come and see me yesterday, or today. They didn’t come and view the CCTV footage yesterday. They haven’t contacted me since this morning to let me know if they’ve seen the CCTV or not, or to tell me they have received the photograph I emailed them.
And now in their statement they are making it sound like cyclists need to take more care – like it’s our fault that people steal. I locked my bike right outside my office window, close to a busy road, and knew it was covered by CCTV. None of these things deterred the scumbag who took my bike from walking up to it in the middle of the day, cutting the lock, and walking away with it. The only thing that will deter is open and obvious police presence on the streets, and proper consequences for their actions. But then I guess even that won’t put some criminals off when there’s money to be made in selling these bikes.
Earlier this evening I had a chat with William Wright on his Radio Lincolnshire drive time show about this. I hope I came across ok! It seems that bike thefts are a real problem and have been very upsetting to many local people. I mean, mine was taken from a public place, but some have been taken from locked garages and sheds, from “secure” bike parking, from back gardens where thieves have scaled walls. It’s so common it’s terrible.
I now know from the CCTV that it was only about five minutes between someone stealing my bike and me discovering the theft. If police had acted quicker they may well have found the criminal nearby with the bike.
The police, in my opinion, seem to just go through the motions, but are actually just doing it to give you a crime number and that’s it. It’s a serious problem, it thousands of pounds worth of goods that are being stolen, and it seems out of control with the police unable to handle the scale of the problem.
Even though I am insured, it’s going to cost me at least £100 (claim excess, fuel due to needing the car instead, and loss of my no claims discount) – and I’m luckier than many, for others it’s their only transport and they can’t get around.
I really hope that I get some sort of call or email or something from the police soon to let me know they have indeed viewed CCTV and are doing what they can. I at least deserve that.
Update Saturday Morning
I had a call from a local police officer yesterday (about 4.30pm or so). They explained that they had been in contact with the security at work and have had an oral description of what was on it, but hadn’t yet viewed it themselves. They had been busy on another job and so would be viewing it sometime on Saturday. I was also told they had received the photograph I sent them on Thursday morning and would be sending that, plus any information from the CCTV, around to all police officers in the area, and that they would stop and search known thieves.
The lady I spoke to was very polite and explained she would have come to see me on Friday instead of calling but is on restricted duties. That’s ok – at this stage a phone call is fine, but I still would have liked a visit straight after the theft or on Thursday morning in my “appointment slot”. It wasn’t the same police officer who called me on Thursday but she works in the same team, so at least things are joined up. But unfortunately, despite this phone call and being assured they are doing everything they can, the fact they haven’t even viewed the CCTV yet (which I thought they were doing on Thursday morning following our telephone conversation then), I am not filled with great confidence that they are taking bike theft (mine or anyone else’s) seriously.
At the moment the police here treat bike theft on a case by case basis, but are looking into putting one officer in charge of an operation against the problem. I know the chances of getting my bike back are pretty slim – they recover just 1 in 50 stolen bikes.
I know there are far more important crimes than the theft of my bicycle which take up valuable police time, but without any action immediately after a crime has been commited, bike theft in Lincoln is just going to escalate even more.