Urban Scams #4: Bike Racks Sabotage - London - Urbansome.com
bike rack sabotage in london

Urban Scams #4: Bike Racks Sabotage – London

Urban Scams Series

This is the fourth review in a series of “Urban Scams” presented to you by Urbansome.com. “Urban Scams” will help you become extra careful and avoid falling for various frauds when travelling and living in different cities around the world.

Bike Racks Sabotage

It has come to our attention that sabotaging bike racks is becoming more and more popular in London. What bike thieves do is, by using special equipment, they quickly cut the rack during the quiet times and then mask it with a duck tape (or similar type of tape). Later when a victim parks his bike, they quickly detach it through the pre-made cut. At first sight it does not look suspicious as many of the racks across the city do have various unwanted coverage on them, therefore the duck tape mask makes it look natural and enables criminals to have an easy prey.

With thousands of bike parking racks around London, many people have been victims of this scam already. According to TfL, more than 20,000 bikes are reported stolen every year. Unfortunately, this number will probably be higher for 2015 as it is difficult to determine at the moment how long this type of scam has been exercised for.

Here is what PC Mark McKay has posted on Twitter recently:

According to Mark, even police bikes have been stolen this way.

Don’t forget, if this is happening in London, it is more than very likely that it will or it is already happening in your city.


  • First of all, be extra careful where you park your bicycle – double check whether the rack is solid by simply trying to “shake” it.
  • Avoid parking it in areas where you cannot see any other bikes parked.
  • Try to not leave your bike parked in a public place overnight if possible.
  • Make sure you use good quality lock as opposed to the cheapest option.

Here’s what TfL officialy recommends in addition to the above:

1. Get your bike security marked and registered at BikeRegister
Having your bike security marked and registered is a visible deterrent to bike thieves. They know that if they are caught in possession of a registered bike, the rightful owner can be traced and they will be arrested.

Find out if your local Met Police Safer Transport Team has any marking events planned

2. Record details of your bike
Frame number (normally found underneath the bike between the pedals or where the back wheel slots in), BikeRegister number, other distinguishing features, and take a photo.

3. Use locks of gold ‘Sold Secure’ standard
Also, use two different types of lock, with at least one being a high quality D-lock. It takes thieves a few seconds to cut through poor-quality locks. Make it as difficult for them as possible.

4. Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand 

5. Make the locks and bike hard to manoeuvre
Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible. 

6. Take parts that are easy to remove with you 

For example, saddles and wheels. Or use secure skewers, which can increase security by securing the bike’s components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal parts such as saddles or wheels.

7. Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking 

It should be well lit and covered by CCTV.

8. Take the same care to lock your bike securely at home 

Bikes get stolen from communal hallways, gardens and sheds.

9. Don’t buy a stolen second-hand bike

Insist on proof of ownership and check the bike frame number at BikeRegister.

10. If your bike has been stolen, contact the police

Give them your BikeRegister number, photo and any other details.

If you have been a victim or witnessed similar tactics please leave a comment below and let us know where and when.

Found this useful? Share it with your friends and spread the awareness. Also, have a look at our article about popular “Friendship Bracelet” scam in Paris, France. Our “Urban Scams” series will cover many scams like this in different cities around the world, so do not forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and bookmark Urbansome.com.

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