Just weeks after the Liberal Democrats warned that bike theft has been effectively “decriminalised”, thanks to Home Office data revealing that nine in 10 cases reported to the police since 2019 have gone unsolved, one prolific bike thief has been sentenced to seven months in prison following his latest attempt.
John Bruce Miller, a 39-year-old with several previous convictions for bike theft, was caught on CCTV taking a bike from Cambridge Station Cycle Park in November.
Last week at Peterborough Crown Court, Miller was jailed for seven months after pleasing guilty to theft of a pedal cycle and two counts of breaching his current Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), which prohibited him from being in possession of any bike or bike part without a verifiable receipt, and from being in possession of any item that can be used to steal a bike in a public place.
“Miller is a prolific bike thief in Cambridge with numerous convictions against his name for cycle theft,” Sergeant Dan Scott, of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said following the 39-year-old’s sentencing.
“We continue to work hard to address cycle crime in Cambridge. This includes reviewing and identifying hotspots, catching offenders, recovering stolen bikes with proactive patrols, and education.
“All reports of bike theft are taken seriously and we would encourage people to report offences so we can build up a picture and deploy resources accordingly.”
Miller’s sentencing falls largely in line with previous prison terms for serial bike thieves in the UK. In July 2022, another prolific Cambridge bike thief, Joshua Collinson-Prime, was jailed for six months for stealing two speakers and a locked bike worth £1,200, after being caught days later by off-duty police officers while breaking the lock of a mountain bike.
That January, Paul Digney was sentenced to 21 months in prison following a burglary spree which saw him steal £4,500 worth of bicycles after he gained access to the communal areas of three buildings in Leeds.
However, those lengthy prison sentences appear to be the exception rather than the rule, with recent data released by the Home Office revealing that of all the bike thefts reported to the police since 2019, 89 per cent (more than 365,000) have gone unsolved, pointing to more than eight reported bike thefts an hour and 200 per day going unsolved in England and Wales over the past four years.
Alistair Carmichael, the home affairs spokesperson of the Liberal Democrats, the party that analysed the data, called the figures “shocking” and cause for cyclists to be left “wondering if bike theft has been decriminalised”.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.