Merseyside Police say that a crackdown on bike thieves in Southport, including plain clothes officers being deployed, has led to the number of bicycles reported stolen there each week falling by up to 80 per cent.
In one week earlier this year, 15 bikes were stolen in the seaside town which lies some 16 miles north of Liverpool, but police say that has now dropped to around three a week, reports the Southport Visiter.
One thief was caught red handed by officers in February as he tried to make off with a £700 mountain bike that its 18-year-old owner had locked up outside a branch of Poundland where he worked.
A search revealed that Anthony Earle, from Bootle, had a pair of bolt cutters on him and has since been jailed for 16 weeks for the theft.
Inspector Darren Wilson said: "This was a highly satisfying arrest as Earle had brazenly cut the lock of this young man's expensive bike right outside his workplace and ridden it away.
“Clearly he did not care that the owner would have finished work and ended up distraught that something belonging to him had been stolen.
“This arrest shows that we take acquisitive crime in Southport very seriously and understand the impact that bike theft, shop lifting, pick pocketing and general anti-social behaviour in the town centre can have on decent, ordinary, law-abiding people.
“Plain clothes patrols are an extremely effective tactic in tackling the most prolific offenders. Those criminals can never be sure who is watching them and at what point they might be arrested.
He added: “My message to them is: do not bother coming to Southport to commit crime. You will be arrested and you will be put before the courts."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.