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Oxford bicycle theft - stolen the day it was bought!

Oxford — May 2010

Yesterday, after waiting for them to get something the right size in, I bought a refurbished bike from the Oxford Cycle Workshop around the corner. I was very happy with the purchase, and put it next to C's bike at the back of the house. This morning when I got up it had been stolen.

I hadn't locked it up as the D-lock I have wouldn't go around the bike shelter pole - I figured I'd get a chain lock today - and C had been leaving her bike unlocked for months without a problem. But I had been warned by everyone about the bicycle thieves in Oxford, and it seems they are both discerning of quality and very quick off the mark. That's a lesson I won't forget! (I actually had a thought just before I went to sleep that I should have used the D-lock around the wheel, though with half-asleep logic I was worried about the wheels being stolen.)

I've reported the theft to the police - who were very friendly and efficient - and there is a number engraved on the frame, but I don't hold much hope for ever seeing it again, even though my sister says they once got a stolen bike back.

Friends of ours had a brand-new barbecue stolen from their back yard the day they bought it, so opportunistic theft is obviously a problem. On the other hand, not a single house in this area has bars on the windows - unlike where we were in Sydney, where half the houses or more did - so break-and-enter must be a lot less common. (Possibly there is some kind of building regulation prohibiting bars, as it seems extraordinary that no one at all has them.)

Update (August 2011): Oxford Times story on bicycle theft hotspots


  1. I think the bars thing is a fire safety regulation. It's a good one to have, too, since it means nobody can have bars and you don't get the arms race you get on Sydney streets.

    Holly also had a bike stolen in similar circumstances. Get insurance if your bike is valuable. A lock helps ;)

    Comment by Simon Rumble — May 2010
  2. Also it might be because most places have double glazing. Apparently it's harder to break in through a double glazed window.

    Sorry to hear about your bike.

    Comment by inverted sheep — May 2010
  3. I don't think the place we're in has double glazing - the best the central heating can do seems to be to keep it about 5 degrees warmer than outside!

    Fire safety is the reason we don't have bars on the upstairs windows in our place in Sydney, but unless one deadlocks the doors I wouldn't have thought the downstairs windows would be an issue (at least in a terrace where the only exit options are at the front and back).

    Comment by danny — May 2010
  4. Your piece of bad luck reminds me of an arty classic flick The Bicycle Thief of the late 1940s.


    In the late 1950s the film had a re-run or first release in Hong Kong. It had lavish praise from the Chinese press ( I could only read Chinese then). Outside of the cinema,there was a giant billboard with a real bicycle attached to it,to spruik the film. The billboard and the film's title in Chinese never failed to attract my attention as I travelled pass on the tram time after time. It was becoming something enigmatic to me.

    I did not see the film, and I don't think I was old enough to understand it even I had a chance. I had literally waited for decades before it was on show on SBS. But I couldn't stay up late for it. It was a shame.

    Comments on the film, anyone ?

    Comment by DL — May 2010
  5. Had my bike stolen off Cowley road in similar circumstances a few months ago. It was a nice bike by Oxford standards, and only locked to itself. InNow have a rubbish-but-serviceable bike like everybody else. Theft - reducing inequality!

    Comment by Mark — May 2010
  6. […] years. That includes three bikes - two secondhand three-speeds bought for £110 each (the first was stolen the day I bought it) and a fully-fitted 8-speed city bike bought new online for £295 - assorted parts - a pannier bag, […]

    Pingback by cycling costs - Oxford Blog — April 2014

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