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Bike thefts at Canterbury West more than three times higher than at Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham and Canterbury East

By Jack Dyson

Cycling commuters have vowed not to leave their bikes at Canterbury West unless security is stepped up at the station.

Southeastern passengers claim it is too risky to lock up their bikes and jump on a train, as the station is a hotbed for thieves.

Figures obtained by KentOnline reveal 169 bicycles were stolen from Canterbury West over a five-year period.

Lee Jackson, who lives in the city, had two bikes – worth more than £200 – snatched in the space of three months.

The second of them was in August last year, and the 38-year-old has since refused to cycle to the station.

James Alexandre, of Love Lane, Canterbury, also believes it is too risky to leave bikes at the station after falling foul of thieves in October.

“If I was to get another bike, I wouldn’t take it to Canterbury West for now and I wouldn’t suggest anyone else do so either, if they can avoid it, because the risk is too high,” said the 36-year-old.

“When my bike was stolen, I spoke to someone who was there at the time who told me that it’s best not to spend too much money on my next bike in case that gets stolen as well.”

James Alexandre is calling for improved security at Canterbury West after having his bicycle stolen
James Alexandre is calling for improved security at Canterbury West after having his bicycle stolen

Mr Alexandre secured his bike to a stand before commuting to London for work.

By the time he returned to Canterbury that evening, there was no trace of it or the lock.

The station does have CCTV cameras monitoring the area, but Mr Alexandre says they "leave you having a false sense of security".

“When I reported it to British Transport Police, officers came round to my house and explained that it does happen a lot there,” he added.

“They said the cameras are not enough of a deterrent because the people who steal these bikes either do it spontaneously or with hoodies on to cover their faces.”

More than 300 bicycles have been stolen from five rail stations in recent years
More than 300 bicycles have been stolen from five rail stations in recent years

Southeastern says it will install extra cycle racks in Canterbury West’s multi-storey car park, construction on which begins next month.

A pre-paid key fob will be needed to access the spaces, which will be equipped with extra CCTV cameras.

“We take all crime reported at our stations extremely seriously,” Mr Vinson added.

“We’ve worked with local partners to invest more than £5 million to improve cycle parking and security at our stations – including extra cycle parking spaces, CCTV, secure access systems and bike repair points.”

Canterbury West is not the only local station targeted.

Between 2012 and 2017, BTP received 56 bike theft reports at Herne Bay, while Whitstable and Faversham had 54 and 40 respectively.

"If I was to get another bike, I wouldn't take it to Canterbury West for now and I wouldn't suggest anyone else do so either, if they can avoid it, because the risk is too high" - James Alexandre

Canterbury East had the fewest number of cases, with just 17.

BTP spokesman Matthew Woodhouse argues the number of thefts at Canterbury West is “incredibly low”.

“Of course, it is important to remember that Canterbury West station is an incredibly busy station, with more than two million passengers passing through it during 2017/18,” he said.

“The chances of being a victim of bike crime remains incredibly low.

"However, we know bikes remain popular targets for opportunistic thieves and we urge cyclists to use strong, durable locks when securing their bikes at stations.

"Also, we’d ask cyclists to register your bike at www.bikeregister.com.”

Mr Woodhouse urges anyone who witnesses a crime on the rail network to contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 405040.

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