Cyclists are being urged to check the privacy settings on smart phone applications used to record cycle routes, following a spate of bicycle thefts in the West Midlands.
From September to December 2012 more than 370 bikes were stolen across the West Midlands. It is estimated that the total cost of the stolen bicycles amounts to around £175,000.
Sgt Dave Morris, from Staffordshire Police, said: “We have noticed an increase in the number of high-value cycles being stolen from sheds and outbuildings.
“Our investigations have shown that some of the victims had been using websites and mobile phone apps to log their routes – these sites allow users to view each other’s routes and track their rides.
“Some of the GPS data recorded and shared on these sites is so accurate you can pin point the house where the journey’s have begun and ended. We suspect some thieves have been using these sites to identify potential victims and high-value bikes.
“Many of the sites also link to social networking sites to share routes. Users are urged to check the privacy settings of any apps they use and avoid using Twitter and Facebook to share maps of their routes, as these could potentially identify their home addresses and inadvertently ‘advertise’ the location of their bike to thieves.
“Alternatively, they can opt to start the tracking function a few streets away from their home address and stop it again before returning home.”
For more information contact Sharon Martin, West Midlands Police community partnership officer, on 01902 481384.