One bike stolen per day

 Alastair Thomas Swatland

349 bikes have been stolen in Glasgow’s West End in the last year, amounting to as much as £250,000 of stolen property, causing a real problem for Glasgow University students who use bikes as their means of getting around.

Witnesses claim that the thefts have been carried out by organised groups who target the most expensive bikes – on occasion worth as much as £3000 – and use vans to take the bikes once they have been cut loose from their locks.

One student, Hunter Mackay, told the Glasgow Guardian that he was back in Glasgow for less than 24 hours when his bike was stolen. He said: “It was the day I moved in and I locked it [the bike] to the metal banister at the bottom of the stairs in my building. In the morning, the lock was lying on the ground and you could see it had been cut through.”

To counter the problem, Strathclyde Police and the University are introducing tagging kits to track stolen bikes. These leave indelible marks on bikes, which can then be traced back to the owner.

Sergeant Gerard Orr of Partick Community Police said: “Officers based at Partick and other offices recover a number of bicycles and we continue our efforts to reduce the number of bikes stolen.”

The SRC and campus security are providing 500 kits, which would normally cost £18 each, to students free of charge.

Gordon Mackenzie, head of security at the University, is supportive of the tagging operation, stating: “The police are engaged with this detection brand; every time a bike is recovered, the police are required to share it, which leads to a higher chance of recovery.

“We are trying to respond to the actual crimes that are happening, not what we think might happen, but what is actually happening and then working in partnership with the Police.”

However, at present only eight bikes have been returned to their owners in the last year, a fact which Partick Community Police acknowledge: “You may appreciate our difficulty in identifying the actual owners of recovered bikes which often have no discernible markings.”

Gordon Mackenzie advised: “Students should use recognised brands of bikes, get their bikes protectively marked, especially as the only locks which experts say cannot be cut are around £50. Any other one you could buy can be cut within 30 seconds by a pair of old cutters.”