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We stumbled across this excellent article on the Ride It blog - read a section below - The entire article here;  Bike Security  A Day With The Bike Theft Unit

Section From the ride it blog

I have visited the joint Transport fo London and Metropolitan Police's Cycle Task Force last year, when Inspector Graham Horwood and his team showed me what the traffic unit was up to. It was a very interesting day, indeed but a couple of weeks ago I got an invitation from Graham to spend a day with the bike theft unit, too. It sounded exciting, so I didn't hesitate to say yes.

I cycled to their headquarters near Southwark tube on a dark, gloomy and cold morning. Graham greeted me downstairs and then escorted upstairs to their offices. While I sipped my hot beverage he mapped out what was waiting for me for the rest of the day. As there were methods and procedures that were strictly confidential, he couldn't tell me everything about how they worked, how they tackled crime. What I was allowed to hear was a kind of sanitized version, but it was still full of interesting details.

a day with a bike thief

The plan for the day was to place a decoy bike in Central London, keep an eye on it and if and when someone attempts to steal it, catch the perpetrator red-handed. He warned me that it would be a long day, there would be a lot of walking around and we might not be lucky and might have to go home empty-handed but I saw all the great cop movies and tv shows in my mind, so I was sure that within 15 minutes, we would be cuffing the first bike thief. Should have remembered from my favourite tv show, The Wire, how things go in reality.

A briefing was called so all the participating officers were aware of all the details. Though it was a sanitized briefing (i.e. no sensitive data or procedure was mentioned) but I couldn't understand a word from it. Sentences like 'We will do a section 232 in sector 43'left me utterly puzzled, but the guys seemed to know what was going on and after 15 minutes, everybody shuffled out of the room and started their journeys to an undisclosed location in Central London.

In order to not to stick out like a sore thumb, Graham donned regular street clothes and we headed towards the tube station to catch our train. The journey wasn't long but it allowed me to chat to Graham about the work they do. I was quite surprised when he said that the biggest hurdle they face is finding out who the stolen bikes belong to. "Often, finding the bikes is not the problem. Tracing them back [to their owners] is the problem". He gave me an example right away.

A couple of weeks ago, they had stopped a suspicious van and when they opened the rear compartment, it turned out that it contained 10 bikes. When they asked the driver what's the story with the bikes, the guy shrugged:  "I don't know how it got there, guvnor". So they tried to find out who these bikes belong to but they could only find two or three owners, the others remained in a secure storage facility. What's worse is that in theory he can get the bike back if we cannot prove it's stolen. We try very hard to prevent that". That was when I first heard the three R's: Record, Register, Report. But more on that later.

Read the rest here http://blog.evanscycles.com/commuter_urban/bike-security-a-day-with-the-bike-theft-unit/#comment-2229