Open Letter to Irish Rail about bike theft at Skerries

Bicycle theft is a huge problem throughout the city, and one that has been particularily bad in Skerries, where many bikes have been stolen at the train station. Here is an open letter that the Skerries Cycling Initiative sent to Irish Rail on the 2 May 2013 to protest at their lack of an adequate response to the serious problem of bike theft at Skerries.

” 2 May 2013 Open Letter to: David Franks Chief Executive Irish Rail

Dear Mr Franks, I write on behalf of your customers in Skerries who, until they were stolen, used their bikes to travel to and from the station. Skerries Cycling Initiative, a voluntary group fighting for better facilities for cyclists, is aware that a serious bike theft problem exists at Skerries station. We have compiled a list of some of the bike thefts over last two years and can supply it if required. Presumably you already have records of the bikes reported stolen. We understand from staff at the station that an alarming 1-2 per bikes on average are stolen each week. Over the last eighteen months one unfortunate Skerries resident had two bikes stolen and a third damaged irreparably because the thief or thieves could not sever the lock on the bike. Despite the fact that Irish Rail is aware of the problem we have yet to see any effective action being taken to reduce the level of thefts. Rail users are encouraged to cycle to the station, bike shelters are provided and CCTV is installed. Yet when thefts happen the victim is left feeling that Irish Rail doesn’t care and that it was foolish to bring their bike to the station in the first place. Surely your customers deserve better. It has been indicated to us that there is a lengthy delay in Gardai being given access to the video evidence held by Irish Rail. In this age of instant communication it is hard to accept that it can take a week before a Garda can view the tapes relating to a reported theft. This delay works to the advantage of the thieves. We expect more from a state agency when serial crimes being committed on its property. You should be doing your utmost to prevent crime instead of encouraging it by your slow response and general lack of any sense of “duty of care” towards your customers’ property when the property in question is a bicycle.

Tracking technology, using GPS, can be used to monitor the movement of stolen goods. If a small number of bikes were fitted with tracking devices at theft black spots, it should be possible for the Gardai to act far more effectively (as well as detect where stolen bikes are being traded). This should be cheaper and more effective than recovering CCTV footage after the event.

If cars were being stolen or damaged to the same extent as bikes we have no doubt that there would have been swift and determined action on the part of Irish Rail. If passengers were being mugged or pickpocketed to the tune of several hundred Euro (at least) at a time, the reaction of Irish Rail would also be swift and effective. Yet having your bike stolen is somehow seen as a nuisance rather than a criminal act. While Skerries Cycling Initiative regards your current treatment of cyclists as shabby we wish to work towards a day when the train station would be seen as one of the safest places in Skerries to lock a bike instead of being the most risky. However, until such time as there is a significant improvement in bike security we feel there is an onus on you to warn your customers of the high risk they run by parking their bikes at the station. We acknowledge that there are other players involved in finding a solution including the Gardai and the local community. With regard to the local community we will do our best to get them to effect improvements in their level of vigilance, use of good locks and bike registration, but it is our view that Irish Rail, as the owner of the property on which the thefts take place has the primary responsibility in bringing an end to bike stealing as a regular occurrence at the station.

We look forward to your response in particular to the following questions:

  • What is the response to a bike theft being reported to a member of your staff?
  • Are all reported thefts recorded and is there a central register of thefts?
  • Does the reporting of a theft trigger an examination of the CCTV evidence or does this await contact from the Gardai?
  • Is the movement in and out of the station of vans captured by CCTV examined when thefts occur? Is the footage of bikes being taken onto trains examined when thefts occur?
  • Do Irish Rail initiate any contact with the Gardai when a theft takes place on their premises?
  • Why does it take so long for Gardai to get access to the CCTV evidence?
  • Why have lockers not been installed in Skerries as has happened in other stations?
  • Would Irish Rail in the interests of crime prevention, consider deploying its security staff to monitor stations where bike theft is occurring regularly?
  • Has Irish Rail considered working with the Gardai in using tracking technology to detect theft and subsequent movement of bikes?

In addition to getting answers to the above questions we would also like to hear of any other initiatives being planned by Irish Rail to improve the situation and would be happy to meet and discuss the way forward on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Michael McKenna Skerries Cycling Initiative

Open Letter
Thursday, 2 May 2013 (All day)

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