Thieves use Strava and other sites to find homes with expensive bikes

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015

You need to lock your bike at home – with a quality lock – and stop mapping your rides from your hall door.


Police forces are warning cyclists who use ride-sharing sites and apps – such as Strava – that thieves are now searching them to identify houses with expensive bikes to rob.

Ireland is in the middle of what can only be described as a bike-theft epidemic; with the rate of bikes being stolen now higher than ever and increasing faster than any other crime type.

Most of the bikes being stolen are taken from the streets; after their owners have ridden into urban areas and locked them up.

The Garda has reacted by conducting a number of specialist policing operations, but they have only just begun and their success or otherwise is still unclear.

Aside from on-street thefts, there have been countless cases of cyclists with expensive racing and training bikes being targeted in their homes.

In a number of those the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for and only stole the most expensive mounts, also suggesting some pretty sophisticated knowledge of bike tech.

Those robberies are increasing and it would appear it is no longer enough to put your bike in your shed or garage and lock it – cyclists with expensive bikes also need to put a lock on the bike in their shed or garage.

That way, if a burglar gains access, they must still negotiate a bike lock before they can take away your pride and joy.

The additional time it would take them to break a good lock may in itself be enough to dissuade from lingering any longer for fear of being caught.

Police in the UK are now convinced that ride-sharing sites are being mined by thieves to identify the exact locations of the homes of riders who have logged lots of miles – and shared them online – because they are the serious cyclists most likely to have expensive bikes.

Dorset Police have issued an appeal to riders using the sites to adjust their privacy settings to hide the exact location of their homes.

“We have noticed a rise in the number of high value cycles being stolen recently… which we believe could be linked to people unwittingly leading thieves to their home addresses due to posting information online,” said Sgt Ady Thompson.

“We are urging all cyclists to be mindful of the amount of personal information which they share over the internet and how this can be interpreted by criminals, as data isn’t just accessible to fellow enthusiasts, but to thieves too.

“Changing the privacy settings on an app will make it hard for would-be thieves to pinpoint where the bike is stored when not in use.

“It takes seconds to do, but can save thousands of pounds, hours of frustration and upset and deny the criminal a ‘quick thrill’ or a sale.”

And in Wales, the same warning has been issued.

Det Ciaran Ryan of Llanelli CID has urged cyclists to only begin recording their rides when they are at least a few streets from their home.

“These apps allow users to track their rides and view the rides of others on a map,” he told the BBC.

“Some GPS data is shared publicly on these sites and is so accurate it pinpoints the exact house where their rides have begun and ended.

“This information, along with the facility to post a description and photos of bicycles owned, give a potential thief all the information they need to steal the bike.”

The advice may have been issued by police forces in the UK in relation to crime trends there, but if British thieves are using these sites you can be assured Irish criminals are doing the same. Be careful!