The very act of preventing bicycle theft can have a positive impact upon crime reduction in general. This is because, given the opportunity, the individual who steals bicycles is also very likely to commit other more serious offenses. But more importantly, if the criminal feels that he/she can get away with it, this will act as further encouragement.
A criminology theory known as “Broken Windows” advocates that the disregard for small forms of petty crimes can pave the way for more organised and serious forms of crime. In contrast, when criminals notice that they cannot get away with even the smallest types of crimes this will make them move their activities elsewhere.
Given that there are various motives for bicycle theft, some bikes are stolen for transportation purposes, some traded for cash or drugs, whilst others may used to facilitate other criminal activities.
To be effective in tackling bike crime preventive efforts must be directed towards areas where bicycle theft is most concentrated. Over the years, the focusing on bike crime ‘hotspots’ has proven to be effective. We must also understand the heterogeneity of bicycle crime, as different forms of bike crime may demand distinct preventive mechanisms and strategies.
Even if preventing bicycle theft did not have an impact upon reduction of general crime rates it would still be worth policing it for the sake of the community’s security and safety. Nevertheless, “broken windows” theory makes a compelling argument for the fact that lawlessness and disorder yields yet further lawlessness and disorder. Minor forms of crime such as bicycle theft victimize everyone by depriving them of their sense of safety and well-being. So, the take away message is that, low-level crimes such as bicycle theft create the pre-conditions for urban disorder and more serious forms of crime.