Bike Theft in Europe: a disturbing reality

Please find a French version here

A recently published study conducted by INSEE(1) (French public statistics) showed that 354,000 households have suffered from bicycle theft in France in 2016. It represents 2,3% of bike-owning households around the country. This number has been constantly increasing since 2012.

The study also shows that only 7% of the victims are recovering their stolen bikes.

INSEE collected this data from 2012 throughout 2017 and has analyzed the situation of over 16,000 households in a representative panel. This survey is the most accurate and latest up to-date. It provides a snapshot of the bike theft reality beyond the number of police reports, which, as the study shows, represent only a fraction of theft - only 19% of victims are reporting theft to the police.

Another research “Les Français et le Vélo”(2) also indicates that in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, 21.6% of cyclists have already experienced a stolen bike and 6.5% have experienced theft several times. The study generally demonstrates that the larger the cities, the larger the risk of theft.

A third study,(3) conducted by FUB (Fédération des Utilisateurs de Bicyclettes - French cycling association) in 2017, polled 117,000 bicycle users across France. When asked “are bicycle theft rare?“ the answer was a massive “no“ for 77% of the respondents. Furthermore, in cities from 100,000 to 200,000 inhabitants the answer is no for 82% and increase to 89% in cities over 200,000 inhabitants.

A European issue

The problem of bike theft is quite similar in other European countries. For instance, 300,006 bike have been stolen in Germany in 2017 according to police statistics.(4)

In the United Kingdom, according to the report “Crime in England and Wales”(5) published by the Office of National statistics, 96,510 bike have been stolen from november 2017 to september 2018.

In Italy this number seems to be even bigger with 320,000 bikes stolen in 2013, according to the Italian Cyclist Association FIAB-ONLUS. (6)

In Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy these numbers only include theft reports processed by the police. Just like in France only a small percentage of theft are declared to the authorities.

In Spain, the study “Barómetro de la Bicicleta en España 2017“ indicates that 10,3% of respondents have declared to have been a victim of one bike theft and 5,7% more than one, in the last 5 years. (7)

This makes more than 800,000 bikes stolen per year. Across these 5 largest European countries bike theft can be estimated between 2.5 million and 3 million per year.​ Theft of Electric Bikes

The fast growth of e-bikes sales in Europe is most probably going to increase this problem in the years to come. Since its price is significantly more important (an average of 280€(8) for a normal bikes and 1564€(9) for an electric bike) the risk of theft is likely to rise accordingly.

The number of e-bike sold in Europe reached 1.7 million units in 2016 (doubling from the 2012 sales while the overall market size has been pretty much flat(10)) and has continued to grow steadily since then in Western Europe.(11)

However, no specific study has been released yet on e-bike theft as this market is still nascent. Impact of bike theft on cycling in large cities

In a time where cities are massively congested by car traffic, the promotion of cycling has become a public policy topic for municipalities and governments. Theft is therefore becoming an issue not only for bike owners and law enforcement agencies but also for cities themselves.

The research “Les Français et le Vélo” shows that for 21.4% of people theft is a reason why they do not use their bicycle for daily travel.

Beyond individually owned bicycles, theft is also a problem for bicycle rental systems, free-floating or docked. In July 2018, the consortium managing the new Velib docked bike system for Paris reported 3,000 stolen & lost bikes since the inception of the new service six months earlier.(12)

Free-floating bike rental company Gobee Bike stopped its operations in France due to too many stolen bike. In 2017 they reported more than a thousand theft(13) representing half of the fleet deployed in Paris.

This problem is similar in other European countries. Mobike, another free-floating company, decided to pull out of Manchester for the same reason.(14)

The president of “Ofo”, another free-floating bike provider, said they were facing similar problems in every European cities.(15) Since then Ofo pulled out of many of these cities. CROWDLOC Solution to bike theft

To fight bicycle theft, CROWDLOC has developed an original tracking solution that is affordable and uses only a small battery for a full year of operation.

This solution works through a community of users in urban areas. It uses a sophisticated software integrated into the mobile applications of CROWDLOC’s partners and small Bluetooth® wireless technology transmitters attached to tracked assets (bikes or else).

Each smartphone in the community passively geo-locates the tags attached to bicycles and sends this information anonymously and securely to the CROWDLOC cloud. The owner has access to the last position of his bike thanks to the community. Paravol

As a B2B solution provider, CROWDLOC distributes its technology through partners. Paravol, the first customer of CROWDLOC for the bicycle market, has launched its Paravol Traceur in November 2018 in the French cities of Bordeaux, Paris and Versailles.

Paravol Traceur is a small device costing €36 that is attached to the bike, it includes one year battery life and one year of service. It works with a free mobile application available for iPhone and Android.

Among the first users of Paravol Traceur have been bikers from food delivery service Deliveroo. Through their large amount of distance travelled daily, they participate in the coverage of the collaborative service.

Beyond Paravol, CROWDLOC software is being integrated in different third parties apps. Among those partners Géovélo (a well know French GPS navigation app for cyclist) has implemented CROWDLOC as an optional feature in their Android app.

These apps joining the CROWDLOC Alliance are increasing the coverage and the granularity of the CROWDLOC community, allowing users to find back their lost or stolen properties faster.


Ludovic Privat, CEO

(1) Institut national des hautes études de la sécurité et de la justice. (2017). Victimisation 2016 et perceptions de la sécurité Résultats de l’enquête Cadre de vie et sécurité 2017 (pp. 35,36,37). (2)


(4) BKA-Bundeskriminalamt. (2017). ​Police Crime Statistics 2017.​ Wiesbaden: Bundeskriminalamt.

(5) (6)

(7) Assuming 2 stolen bikes in the last five years for the 5,7% who reported more than one theft, that makes 4.1 million theft in the last 5 years, i.e. 820,000 per year. (8)

(9) (10) (11) ​





#CROWDLOC #bikes #ebikes #Europe #theft

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