My street legal dirt bike was stolen from my garage, despite it having a heavy cable shackling it to a ground anchor. The padlock was either broken or cut because a bit of it was left in my garage.

I suspected a professional job had been done but my bike is not of high value, probably worth less than £2,000 but I loved that bike. It is a clean but well used and raced KTM two-stroke.

The bike was discovered by someone walking a dog, about eight miles from where I live. The registration plate was still on the bike. The dog walker called the police, and the police did nothing for three days and I do not believe they ever had a look.

The dog walker called the police back after three days and said that the bike had gone again and presumed that the police had moved it. They had not. Either the original thieves or some new thieves had moved the bike. My bike was insured third party only. Do I have any comeback against the police failing to either recover the bike, or alternatively telling me where it was so that I could recover it?


Unfortunately you have no comeback against the police at all. The English and Welsh courts have set their face against placing a duty of care upon the police to ordinary members of the public who are impacted by crime. While I can understand you will be absolutely raging about this, the civil courts will not get involved in how the police deal with operational priorities. If the Judges said to the police “you can stop this crime happening, and if you do not people who are affected by this crime can sue you” the police would have almost no control over their operational abilities. This does seem to me to be sloppy and lazy policing, particularly as the registration plate was left on the bike and it would have taken the police seconds to track you down as the owner, you were never called so you could recover the bike.

Various actions over the years have been taken against the police but the position was really settled in 2008 In a House of Lords decision where the stakes were much higher than your stolen motorbike, in two cases which were heard together the police failed to protect a witness who was shot dead by somebody who was being prosecuted for what was actually quite a minor theft, and In the linked case by somebody who was smashed in the head with a hammer by a jealous ex-boyfriend. In both of those cases, the House of Lords said that the police owed no specific duty to any member of the public, and with no specific duty there can be no breach of duty, and without a breach of duty there can be no claim.

The only thing you can do. If It makes you feel better, is make a complaint to the police, but frankly, I would not bother. I know what the police answer will be. The motorbike was in an inaccessible area, largely hidden in woods, and looking at the photographs a long way away from any road. If the police had got down to your bike, what would they have done with it? They are not a recovery agency. They are not the AA. They had other policing priorities Very sorry, unlucky, go away. I suspect that will be the response.

A bit of common sense by the police would have resulted in you being called and you going to pick your bike up. I saw from the Facebook post where the dog walker had put up on a local Facebook group that she had found this bike and wondered If it was stolen from anyone local, clearly had the registration number of display, I do wonder If the bike had been stolen and abandoned, and the Facebook post itself resulted in the bike being moved on again. Finally you suspected a “professional Job” had been done, but it was not.

“Professionals” do not bother stealing bikes which are of low intrinsic value. I prefer the word commercial or Industrial thieves. You also placed faith in a cable. A battery powered angle grinder will go through Just about any cable in a few seconds. Cables are virtually useless against anyone who has gone ‘equipped to steal’ I know it is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted but what you really need is an extremely strong chain, ideally 16mm or thicker – because the commercial thieves’ favourite bolt croppers cannot manage a chain greater than 14mm – and such a lock would resist a battery powered angle grinder for several minutes, and create a hell of a lot of noise. Your bike was held with a padlock, and looking at the photographs after your bike was stolen a padlock like yours, was from a perfectly reputable brand can be broken In about 10-12 seconds using either a couple of tyre levers or a couple of long spanners.

You need your padlock to be strong and clamp as close to the chain as possible so a lever cannot be forced into the hasp. You thought your bike was secure. It was not. Finally, looking at your ground anchor, while it looks very Impressive It was simply screwed into Rawl plugs, which could have been extracted with a screwdriver. Think on.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes February 2018