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GPS blamed for rise in bike thefts

The rise in bike thefts could be down to the increased use of GPS systems among riders, it has been suggested.

According to Staffordshire police, thieves are targeting high-specification bicycle models through internet applications which can track information about a cyclist's journey.

As many as 370 bikes were stolen in the county in the four months from September 2012, totalling around £175,000, the local force has claimed.

Thefts have most commonly taken place in sheds and outbuildings in the south of the area.

Police say platforms such as ride-sharing applications are likely to have contributed, as thieves have the potential to see where regular trips begin and end, and could even indicate where a cyclist lives.

In addition to that, social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook could inadvertently highlight where a bike of value could be.

Sergeant Dave Morris, from Staffordshire Police, said a number of the victims were using websites and mobile phone apps to log their routes and allow other users to view their journey.

"Some of the GPS data recorded and shared on these sites is so accurate you can pinpoint the house where the journeys have begun and ended," he added.

As a result, riders might want to check their existing privacy settings to minimise the chance of being a victim of crime and claiming on their bike insurance policy.

"Users are urged to check the privacy settings of any apps they use and avoid using Twitter and Facebook to share maps of their routes as they could potentially identify their home addresses.

"Alternatively, they can opt to start the tracking function a few streets away from their home address and stop again before returning home," Sgt Morris advised.

The average cost of each bike stolen from areas including Cannock, Rugeley, Stafford and Stone was found to be around £468.

Bicycle theft is a problem that affects the whole country and is one that Cambridge's crime commissioner believes is "out of control".

Previously dubbed the 'bike theft capital', the university town is now implementing measures to improve security and drive down the number of cycle crimes, the Cambridge News reports.


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