One bicycle is stolen in Britain every six minutes, figures show.
The highest rate of bicycle thefts took place in London, statistics from Direct Line Insurance revealed.
A total of 21,745 bikes were reported stolen in London last year, accounting for nearly a quarter of all UK bike thefts. Over 58,000 bikes have been stolen in the capital in the last three years.
The statistics triggered warnings that criminal gangs may be targeting wealthy riders who own top of the range bicycles.
Experts claim the jump in bike crime is partly due to the growing popularity of cycling to work, but organised gangs also appear to be a factor.
Darran Hull, of Direct Line, said: “Given London and the surrounding area account for 44 per cent of all cycling miles across Britain, it is no surprise opportunistic thieves target these areas. Bike theft isn’t just distressing but incredibly disruptive, often leaving commuters without a vital mode of transport and cyclists unable to exercise or take part in leisure activities.
“As the popularity of cycling continues to increase, bike theft is also on the up, which is why it’s more important than ever to ensure your bike is covered on your home insurance policy. This is often an optional added extra, so make sure you double check it is included so that you can at least claim for a replacement in the unfortunate event your bike is stolen”.
The areas with the highest number of bike thefts last year were east London with 3,649 thefts. South west London and south east London were also among the worst affected.
Mountain bikes are the most popular among thieves, making up 48 per cent of all thefts in the past three years, followed by hybrid bicycles and road bikes, the survey found.
More than a quarter of a million bikes were stolen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the past three years and over £22million were claimed on insurance in this period.
Tips for keeping your bike safe include registering and insuring it, keeping your bike parked in a well-lit public area, locking it with a secure D-lock and taking a photograph of it when purchasing to capture frame numbers and any unique features.