Bicycle thefts rose in a number of south London boroughs during lockdown, according to a new report compiled by a London-based law firm.

The figures were published with analysis by Lawtons Solicitors, and examine the change in reported bike thefts from 2019 i.e. before the arrival of Covid-19 in the UK to 2020.

They signalled reported thefts of bicycle were up in a large number of south London boroughs, with those closest to the River Thames more likely to see an uptick in the thefts.

For example, Lewisham reported an 23.92 per cent rise in the number of bike thefts reported in 2020 as opposed to 2019.

Other south London boroughs were also impacted by sharp rises, such as Wandsworth (+20.66 per cent), Sutton (+17.83 per cent) and Southwark (+23.92 per cent).

Surrey Comet:

Lawtons suggested that the increase in the number of bicycle thefts was in part related to the larger number of people taking to bicycles during the coronavirus pandemic.

"In an effort to avoid public transport, many Londoners living in zones 2 and 3 took up cycling throughout the UK’s lockdowns.

"Criminals have seen this bicycle boom as a new opportunity, targeting the property of new cyclists who bought bikes during the lockdown," a spokesperson for the group said.

Nick Titchener, criminal defence solicitor at Lawtons, added:

"Bike theft is definitely becoming more of a problem, and the numbers are a testament to this.

"Unfortunately, suspects aren’t being identified because there’s usually no relationship between themselves and the victim and it’s a relatively low-priority crime. On top of this, owners often don’t document the ownership of their bike, making it difficult to prosecute even if the perpetrator is caught.

"It’s essential that you document your bike to help you recover it in the case of theft.

"Keep your receipt, make a record of the serial number and register your bike with a bicycle marking and registration scheme. This will enable the police to trace your bike back to you if it is stolen and recovered."

The story was less distressing for cyclists in other south London boroughs, however, according to the data.

The Lawtons report said that thefts in Bromley, for example, were down 22.28 per cent.

Other south London boroughs showing improvement included Bexley (-19.23 per cent), Merton (-8.93 per cent) and Croydon (-4.55 per cent).