Architect and avid cyclist Richard Hywel Evans was left with a far bigger bill than he expected when he popped out to lunch at a Clerkenwell restaurant he designed last week.
Having spent just an hour and a half inside with a friend, he left to find just the frame and front wheel remaining from his £2,000 bike, after what he suspects was a professional "strip" job by a mechanic who knew what they were after.
Hywel Evans said he parked his steel-framed "stealth" Ritchey bike, fitted with an SRAM groupset and Mavic wheels, outside the Palatino restaurant on the busy Central Street in Clerkenwell, locking it to the standard bike hoop outside with a small Kryptonite U lock through the frame and front wheel.
It's quite a busy street with a lot of glass frontages to offices and shops, so you'd say it is reasonably secure in that it is reasonably visible," he said. "I went in for lunch, came out an hour and a half later and there was my frame from my bike, hanging from the lock."
The thief used a chain cutter to get to the rear mech, and removed everything excluding the frame and front forks – even clipping the cables, taking the brake calipers out of the frame and making off with the Dura Ace pedals.
"It must have been an awesome mechanic," Hywel Evans went on. "Everything was stripped, right down to the spacer bars underneath the handlebars and the quick release and axle from the wheel they could not nick. It's kind of amazing because it is so brazen, isn't it?"
Hywel Evans said he was worried what would have happened if he had caught the thief at work - a risk they must have taken into account. He had not reported the crime to the police as he was not convinced they would act given that, he said, they barely bother to investigate car theft. But, having chatted to some local graphic designers, he learnt this was not the only brazen theft to have occurred in the area recently. A colleague had parked and locked his Specialized Cirrus, only for even more daring thieves to have replaced it with the exact same model but five years older, including a replacement lock. "The replacement bike is in their studio and held as police evidence," said Hywel Evans.
He once leant a brand new Brompton to a friend, who locked it up and lost it to theft within three days. Yet Hywel Evans doesn't insure his many bikes: premiums for models such as his Pinarello are too pricey, he said. Instead, he never leaves those bikes out.
Around 20,000 bikes are reported stolen in London each year, which sounds a considerable number yet masks thefts that go unreported – as well as bikes being stripped for many of their componenets, which may be an emerging trend. Advice to deter thefts includes security marking (Hywel Evans’ frame was marked); using gold standard locks, preferably two; insurance; and locking up within view of CCTV. Hywel Evans vowed to be more vigilant but, given the level of expertise, counted himself lucky to have been left with what he had.
He warned of another trend that has persuaded him to make his Strava account private: thieves monitor the app to see where the best bikes are being ridden, and where and when they are parked home.
- Velocity is building a map of bike theft hotspots - if you know the location of any bike thefts please let us know here.
- For thefts within the City of London, contact City of London Police through their websiteor call 020 7601 2000
- For thefts anywhere else in Greater London, contact Metropolitan Police Service through their website or call 101