A prolific Bristol cycle thief is behind bars after admitting to stealing around 70 bikes, reports the Bristol Evening Post.
Darren Irwin, 20, was convicted of the theft of four bikes and asked for a further 66 similar offences to be taken into consideration. Having been caught on a mountain bike he had just stolen Irwin later showed police the location of a further 100 thefts around 70 of which matched police records and which became the subject of his prosecution.
The Post reports that Judge Jamie Tabor QC imposed a six-month jail sentence on Irwin and told him: "There was a time when stealing a bike was a bit of a joke. Times have changed. Bicycles are used for recreation as well as an environmentally friendly form of transport and have become highly valuable articles.”
Irwin was clearly no opportunist thief. His modus operandi involved a degree of planning and observation before picking his moment to strike and ride off with his booty.
In stealing a Boardman bike belonging to Michael Wincup from outside Bristol's Mud Dock bike shop and café, the court heard from the prosecution that: "Mr Wincup was eating in the café. Irwin kept him under surveillance and, in an opportune moment, cut the bike's chain and cycled away."
Police Constable Frank Simonds told the Evening Post: "Pedal cycle theft in Bristol is an issue that is being addressed by crime reduction teams across the city.
"We are working closely with the cycling city team to make secure cyclists keep their property safe and lock their bikes correctly. We advise all cyclists to place the lock through the frame and the wheel of the bike and then secure this to a stand. If you can, use two locks for the front and the back wheel."
Veronica Pollard, of the Bristol Cycling Campaign, told the ‘paper: "I think it is one of the things that puts people off cycling – the idea that their bike will get stolen. It is not just frustrating when your bike gets stolen – it is a tragedy. People love their bikes as much as they love their cars. You get that same sinking feeling when you come out to the place where your bike was parked and it is not there."