Number of e-bike thefts in UK doubles in a year but decreases for bikes overall

There has been a sharp rise in the number of e-bike thefts, but the overall figure for bikes is trending down

Clock10:39, Wednesday 17th April 2024
A wheel left from a stolen bicycle

© Getty Images

E-bikes are being increasingly targeted by thieves

The number of reported e-bike thefts doubled in the space of a year in the UK, with a 103% increase in 2023 compared to 2022, according to a study by Evolve E-bikes. While the upward trend makes for startling reading, the findings present a brighter overall picture as e-bikes are currently the outlier, with the number of overall bike thefts trending down.

The findings were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests which were submitted to every police force in England and Wales. Only 24 of the 47 authorities responded to the request, so the findings don't present a full picture, but the trends were consistent across all of the responding forces.

According to Evolve's findings, the 2023 increase in e-bike thefts continues an upward trend and marks a larger 257% increase on 2021.

It is in sharp contrast to the findings for overall bike thefts, which have reduced over the same period. There were 64,201 recorded cases of bike theft in England and Wales in 2023, down 15% on the 75,066 recorded in 2022. 

E-bikes are accounting for a gradually larger number of these thefts year on year. In 2021, only 1.4% of bike thefts involved an e-bike, but that number rose to 6.2% in 2023.

The increasing figures won’t come as too much of a surprise, as the e-bike industry has enjoyed a boom over recent years. In some countries, such as Germany, sales of electric bikes even outperformed mechanical bikes in 2023.

Read more: London rental e-bikes to triple amid soaring demand

While the increasing number of e-bikes makes them an easier target, Evolve E-bikes also says that they offer a more “lucrative” option for thieves. Prices for e-bikes usually outstrip their mechanical alternatives and they’re only getting more expensive, having risen on average by 25% since 2020, according to Evolve, which has encouraged e-bike owners to take more steps to protect their bikes.

“There are measures we can take to protect our bikes, and we strongly urge cyclists to invest in high quality locks, one different from the other,” it said in a blog post. “Making a thief’s job harder gives a better chance of deterring them from stealing the bike.”

Of the 24 police forces that submitted figures, the data showed that West Yorkshire was a particular hotspot for e-bike thefts. Its 446 recorded thefts was more than triple the next highest on the list, with Avon and Somerset recording 144.

Meanwhile, London recorded the most overall bike thefts between 2021 and 2023 at over 50,000.

If you’re a cyclist in the UK you can now get specialist bike insurance from GCN. We offer a range of insurance cover for you as a rider, your bike or both and cover all types of cycling. For further details read this article or to get a quote head to our dedicated GCN insurance page.

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