News / Crime

A strong lock can make all the difference

High rate of thefts in Brunswick is linked to increased bike usage, say police

Dayle Jones was happy that her bike was relatively undamaged after an attempted theft earlier this year.

Gemma Grant
Friday, June 24, 2022

DAYLE Jones has a sturdy lock to thank for the fact that she still has a bike to get around Brunswick.

Bicycle theft is one of the most common crimes in Brunswick, a suburb with a high rate of bike ownership, but taking a few extra security precautions can make all the difference.

In Ms Jones’ case, the attempted theft was captured on CCTV and later posted on social media as a warning to other cyclists about the importance of securing their bike. The video footage also helped identify the perpetrator.

Ms Jones had left her bike locked in front of a local gym while she went inside for a workout. She returned to find her lock hacked at and her bike damaged.

“I got lucky that his hacksaw didn’t cut all the way through the lock,” she said.

“My guess is he needed a bit more time, but because it was 6pm, on a busy street, he gave up sooner than he would have in a quieter area. I now use a D Lock, which is more cumbersome, but harder to get through.”

As soon as she saw the damage, Ms Jones went straight back into the gym and asked to view the security camera footage, which she then handed to police.

The video showed a man hitting the lock with a metal tool while a younger male accomplice in a black cap watched from nearby.

Ms Jones said that police officers advised her not to post the security footage online due to concerns for her personal safety, but she decided to upload an edited version to a Facebook community noticeboard.

“I chose to post the footage because there are so many people within the community who are having their bikes stolen. I wanted to put out a PSA,” she said.

Another user of the same social media noticeboard recognised the would-be thief from the footage, and contacted Ms Jones with further details. She then forwarded this information to the police.

The post also attracted comments from other local users. Many were condemning the behaviour of the man in the footage, with others detailing their own experience with similar crimes.

“[The gym] is a hotspot for bike thefts,” one individual commented.

Bicycle theft is not uncommon in Brunswick. According to the latest data from the Crime Statistics Agency, 2021 saw 150 instances of reported bicycle theft within Brunswick.

Although this constitutes a 22.6 per cent decrease from 2020, these numbers remain significantly higher than in neighbouring areas.

Parkville saw 82 reported bike thefts in 2020, while Coburg only saw 79. Reported figures in Princes Hill and Brunswick West were each below 35.

“My bike is my only mode of transport, except for my feet, so the idea that I nearly lost my bike was quite distressing at the time.”

Senior Leading Constable Robert Clemmens of the Brunswick Police Station agreed that bicycle theft is a major crime within Brunswick.

He has also noticed the crime becoming more prevalent over recent years, an increase he attributed to a rise in bike use.

“The introduction of multiple bike lanes has made it easier than ever to ride a bike,” he said.

Constable Clemmens said people should not delay reporting a stolen or missing bike to police either online or through the non-emergency police assistance phone line.

“The longer you wait, the less [the police] can do to help,” he said.

Ms Jones, who has lived in the area for over 10 years, is also aware of the reputation of her neighbourhood.

“Brunswick is the bike theft capital of the world,” she said. “I’m lucky that this is the first time something like this has happened to me.

“My bike is my only mode of transport, except for my feet, so the idea that I nearly lost my bike was quite distressing at the time. More so once I saw the footage of the vicious way he attempted to steal it.”

But, for many, the loss of a bicycle is an inescapable reality. So what should residents do to protect themselves from theft?

Senior Leading Constable Clemmens recommended getting a high-quality bike lock.

“The poorer quality locks can just be pulled apart. More expensive locks are generally safer,” he said.

He also suggested asking around the area for any security footage of the incident. He said that such videos can act as important evidence within a police investigation.

Similarly, he recommended checking online marketplaces for any bicycles that look familiar.

“A bike owner will know it’s theirs immediately, whereas [the police] may not,” the constable said.

Constable Clemmens highlighted the importance of taking a photo of your bicycle, registering the serial number, and noting down any distinctive features.

He said that completing these tasks gave police the best chance possible at recovering stolen bicycles.

“That way if something happens, we can do something. If you just tell us you’ve lost a white bike, we’ll have no idea.”

Brunswick Police Station will be opening the doors of its lost property office on Saturday, July 30 to allow bike owners to see if their two-wheeler is among the hundreds of bikes taht end up there every year.

Many bikes that are held by the police are never returned to their rightful owners as they cannot be identified.

If yours is one of them, you might be able to reclaim it if you bring ID and proof of ownership.

You can also bring your bike along to have it engraved for free.

The station will be open from 10am to 3pm. Visit here for more information.

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