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End Bike Crime

Winter - a time that has been linked to increased bike crime as criminals make the most of wild, windy and dark nights to steal our precious bikes. Please read this blog, take heed, act on the advice and make sure this doesn't happen to any of us.

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For many years there have been too many bikes stolen from mountain bikers across Scotland. We have worked with Police Scotland on this content and their recent campaign, to highlight the work that they are doing to catch the perpetrators and how we, as riders, can help them by making our bikes as easy as possible to recover and as hard as possible to steal.

Bike crime has been escalating over the last few years in Scotland. Police Scotland have active and live investigations into several bike thefts and are making in-roads into breaking these organised and professional networks of thieves.

Whilst Police Scotland are unable to share any further details at the risk of compromising these ongoing investigations. They understand the impact on the victims, the damage that bike crime has on our global reputation as a leader in mountain biking, and that bike crime is being used by organised crime to help fund other serious illegal activity.

Police Scotland recently joined up with professional rider and DMBinS pal, Scotty Laughland, to not only provide him with advice after all his bikes were stolen, but to collaboratively get good messaging out there to riders that they may otherwise not have reached without Scotty's help.

Here in the first of three films that Scotty made with Police Scotland, he shares details of what happened when his bikes were stolen and what he has done since to make sure that it does not happen again.

In this film PC Graeme Scott visit's Scotty to share the fundamentals and best practice of bike security to help Scotty and viewers to ensure that their bikes are safe and in the event that they are stolen, what can be done to help their recovery.

Secured by Design / Bike Register / Squire Locks

Preparing for Recovery - Bike Register Scheme

Register your bike with the national ‘Bike-Register – The National Cycle Database’. Every police force across the UK has been trained when recovering a potentially stolen bike has access to the bike register app and will be able to trace a stolen bike back to their owner.

A DNA forensic kit places a unique and invisible mark on your bike that when scanned with UV light will allow the police to trace the bike back to its owner. If the police find a bike with a DNA kit it becomes easier for them to get the evidence required to obtain convictions. This means criminals are more likely to avoid stealing bikes that are easily identified as having a DNA kit, usually through a sticker, and are wary of storing or trying to sell bikes with DNA kits online or through pawnbrokers.

It is worth checking on the impact of these kits on your bike, especially if you have a carbon built bike.

Police Scotland will be working with ourselves at Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland over the winter months to co-ordinate a series of opportunities at trail centres and events to provide advice and guidance to riders and promote the preventative measures on offer. Further details will be released soon

Preparing for Recovery - Trackers

GPS trackers, sometimes called ‘air tags’, have dropped dramatically in price and can be placed in many hidden locations on your bike. Many e-bikes are now installing them as standard within them.

If your bike is stolen, Police Scotland do not advise using the tracker to try to self-recover your bike. As precious as your bike is, you may be putting your health at risk by tracking and trying to recover the bike from the criminal yourself. Contact Police Scotland as soon as possible with the details on your tracker and let them do their work.

Graeme Scott, National Crime Prevention Team, Police Scotland

It isn’t always a nice thought, however, making your bike less attractive to a thief can mean that they steal someone else’s bike and not yours. We are also recovering more bikes but often can’t trace them back to owners – doing simple things like registering your bike or applying a DNA kit might just bring you and your bike back together again.

Police Scotland have identified that criminals are riding at trail centres, or popular riding spots, then following riders in their cars and vans. If you are suspicious that a car or van has left at the same time as you, pull over, let them pass, and wait until you are confident they wont be able to follow you.

The first prevention is to make your bike as secure as possible as you travel home.

Bikes on Racks

If your bike is stored on the outside of your vehicle it is recommended that you lock your bike with two ‘Secure By Design’ approved bike locks to secure points on your vehicle.

Many popular bike racks will have a small lock to help secure the bike. These can be useful but should be supplemented by, ideally, two additional locks.

Bikes Inside Vans

The first most simple measure is to make sure your bike is not visible inside your van, this will help prevent an opportunistic theft.

If you travel with your bike inside your van, there are products, although they do come at a cost, such as ‘SelectDNA – Portable Intruder Spray’, which can be remote activated and if your van door(s) are broken into it will spray the criminal with an invisible ink that will remain on them for up to two weeks. This means if the criminal is apprehended for the theft of your bike, or another crime, they can be traced through the unique identifier and they can be traced to the theft of your bike.

Similar to placing the DNA kit on your bike, even placing a warning sign that your van is protected may make a criminal think again when attempting to steal your bike and displace them to an easier victim.

Graeme McLean, Head of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

We are really proud of the sense of community we have in mountain biking in Scotland. With a real pride in being friendly and welcoming to everyone we meet. We shouldn’t change that. However, we should consider that there may be thieves at trail centres who might be there to scope out your bike. Take reasonable precautions and be aware of being followed when leaving your ride if you are travelling by car or van.


If a criminal is willing to invade your privacy and take the risk to steal from your home, they will look to target your property if they think they can break in quickly without being seen.

Your bikes can only be secured up to a point. If criminals are targeting your property, they are unlikely to doing this opportunistically and will most likely have done their research.

Slowing the break-in down is your first line of defence. Consider the following measures:

  • Steel reinforced doors on entry to your shed/garage
  • Use ground anchors to chain your bikes too
  • As high a grade of lock that you can afford – for very high-end bikes it may be worth considering a motorbike grade lock. You'll find locks graded on ‘Secure By Design – Locks’

Put in a range of measures to highlight that the theft is happening. Consider the following measures:

  • Motion sensor lights.
  • Install CCTV and signage that your property is covered. Consider CCTV on your shed and also onto the road to gather number plates of vehicles.
  • Alarm your building.
  • SelectDNA – Portable Intruder Spray’ – install a DNA spray which will act as a deterrent and could also help recover your bike (see Travel – Van)

Further guidance and a list of ‘Secured By Design’ products is available here -

If you do manage to interrupt the thieves if your bike is being stolen, Police Scotland do not advise you to confront the criminal. As precious as your bike is, you may be putting your health at risk. Contact Police Scotland as soon as possible with the details of your crime and let them do their work.

These measures will only help minimise the chance of your bike being stolen and it is strongly advised to insure your bike, either through your home insurance or a bespoke bicycle insurer.

Dedicated Bike Lockers

Secured By Design has a range of approved dedicated bike lockers which will help provide a level of security.

Many criminals will have found a method for breaking in to bike shelters. It is recommended to follow the advice given on shed/garage and not solely rely on the security measures within shelters.

Secured By Design has a range of approved dedicated bike lockers which will help provide a level of security.

Trail centres & Cafes

To help avoid opportunistic thefts at trail centres, other riding locations, and/or cafes keep your bike in sight at all times.

We understand riders are unlikely to carry a heavy/robust lock around the trails with them. However, you may wish to consider a lightweight lock to prevent an easy theft or make your bike the hardest bike to steal.

In this latest film, produced with Rob Grew, Scotty describes the worst day of his life when he walked into his lockup and discovered what had happened.

We hope that this advice and information is helpful and will encourage you all to look at your own bike security set up to ensure that we make our bikes as easy as possible to recover and as hard as possible to steal.


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