Monday, August 23, 2010

Bike theft in Beijing on the rise

It is inconvenient and costly but bicycle theft is on the rise in Beijing and across China. No-one is immune and chaining the transportation device to a tree or other immovable object will not deter the thieves who often break them up for parts [see above]. In 2007 authorities registered more than 9 million bicycles stolen. Beijing's police often publicise high-profile crackdowns on bicycle thieves. One particularly strict 2007 police campaign against theft lead to 3,708 arrests and the recovery of 11,111 stolen bikes at 27 second-hand bike markets. But in Chinese law, it's not a criminal case if the stolen object is worth less than 500 RMB [about $73]. So, many people do not even report their loss. Instead, they try to prevent the theft by locking up their bicycle.

"I was lucky because I lost only one bike while I was at college in Beijing," graduate Chang Xu said. "But I heard about a professor at our school who was angry because so many of his bikes had been stolen. He bought a brand new bike and put six locks on it and left a note saying, 'Can you steal this!?!', When he returned, he found a seventh lock attached to his bike with a note, 'Can you open this?'." [CBS]

Thieves are increasingly targeting electric scooters. They are a more lucrative source of income for the criminals. They cost upwards of 1,000 RMB and many people fail to lock them up believing that by simply removing the battery will prevent their scooter from disappearing.

Last year Shanghai police stepped up efforts to combat the theft of scooters, electric bikes and motorbikes. In 2008 the loss of powered two-wheelers accounted for 10.5% of all theft reports in the city, up 2.2% from the year before, Bao Zhiming, an official with Shanghai's criminal investigation team said. The rise in the number of electric bikes and those powered by liquefied petroleum gas in recent years and their high value is responsible for the rise in theft, officers said. Nearly 7,000 thieves were caught in 2008 in Shanghai alone, but such criminal activity remains rife [ElectricBikee].

Those buying an expensive brand name bicycle or scooter are advised to investing in a decent lock or three. It it also important to park up sensibly. Many areas have designated parking attendants who keep a watchful eye and some subway stations have pay-per-hour parking bays. But this does not always work. In a year of living in Beijing tvnewswatch heard several stories of friends and work colleagues being victim to bike theft. One person had his electric scooter's battery stolen despite it being locked and parked within a guarded community compound. Today a scooter owner tweeted about how he found his bike with a flat tyre and decided to return the following morning to collect it. But on his return there was no bike.

Of course bike theft is not only confined to China, but here are a few tips to at least reduce the chances of seeing your transportation device go missing.

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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