Bike theft rate at record high level: Prevention is all the more important

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Last year Switzerland saw the theft of not only more expensive bikes, but a significantly higher number of thefts overall. In northwest Switzerland, the risk was particularly high, with the rate of theft having increased in many cantons. Securing the bike with a high-quality lock at a fixed location helps minimize the risk.

More stolen bikes than ever before were reported in 2023 to AXA, the largest property insurance in Switzerland. Over 10,000 reports were filed – around ten percent more than in the record year of 2022. Even though more bikes were insured, the rate of theft, i.e. the rate of theft per insured household, increased. “On the one hand, households own greater numbers of bikes, and on the other, there just seems to be more thieves,” explains Stefan Müller, Head of Property Insurance Claims at AXA. “We recommend everyone to protect their bikes as well as possible. Bike theft is not just a financial loss. Rather it also entails cost and effort for customers.”

Last year in Switzerland saw the theft of not only more expensive bikes, but a significantly higher number of thefts overall.

14 times more thefts in Basel than in Ticino

A look at the map of Switzerland reveals differences between the cantons: Basel-Stadt is and remains in the top spot for bike thefts, and the rate of thefts even jumped significantly last year compared with the previous year. Every 27th insured had to report a claim to AXA that their bike was stolen. In 2022, this figure was 1 in 33. Canton Solothurn also saw a clear worsening of the situation, with the theft rate increasing by around one-fifth, bumping Basel-Land from second place. In many cantons, the risk of bike theft increased in the past year. Theft hotspots also continue include the cantons of Geneva, Lucerne, and Bern. Ticino, where only one in every 365 households have lost a bike to theft, seems to have the lowest number of thieves. The risk is nearly 14 times lower here than in Basel-Stadt. Valais also has a low rate (one in 194 insureds).

Border proximity and bike cities

“We cannot conclusively explain the regional differences,” says Stefan Müller. “One reason could be the proximity to the border, since there is more organized crime there which transports stolen bikes abroad.” “Being a city with a high number of bikes could be a further driver, as there is of course ample ‘supply’ for thieves.” The difference between urban and rural areas is also discernible in the statistic: Nine of the ten largest Swiss cities have a bike theft rate above the Swiss national average. Only Lugano has a below-average rate. As was the case last year, Basel leads the ranking again. The situation in Lucerne has deteriorated significantly, with the city rising from fourth to second place. Biel/Bienne remains third among the bike-theft hotbeds.

In Basel-Stadt in 2023, the risk of having a bike stolen was nearly 14 times higher than in Ticino.

CHF 22 million in damage

The claim amount increased even more than the number of claims. This is because the bikes stolen have become more expensive and thus the average claim amount as well. Last year, AXA paid nearly CHF 22 million for stolen bikes – CHF 2,100 per claim. Just three years prior, the average claim was CHF 1,450, or around a third less. “The reason for this development is the increasing numbers of expensive e-bikes in circulation – lucrative loot for thieves,” according to Stefan Müller.

How to protect your bike

If you take some precautions, the risk of your bike being stolen can be minimized. “If possible, bikes should be parked where they can be locked and monitored,” Stefan Müller recommends. Securing the bike with a high-quality lock at a fixed location so that it can’t be simply taken away provides additional protection. If the bike is stolen anyway, the theft should be reported to the police as soon as possible. If you know the brand, exact model, and frame number, there is a greater likelihood that you will see your bike again.

Insurance coverage for bikes

  • Bike theft at home is automatically covered by household contents insurance. 
  • If your bike is stolen when you are away from home, household contents insurance will also cover the loss provided coverage for “ordinary theft away from home” is included in the policy. 
  • It is also possible to insure yourself against damage to your bike. At AXA, you can take out supplementary coverage for this purpose – “extended coverage for luggage, sports, and leisure equipment” – which can be especially worthwhile for expensive bikes.

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