Bike thieves behind bars - dozens of criminals caught in Cambridge sting operation

Police deployed bait bikes and even set up bike shop to take stolen goods off thieves' hands

by Simon_MacMichael   January 23, 2012  

Ollie the tea-leaf

Bike thieves in Cambridge got more than they bargained for when they visited a shop to try and sell on the bicycles they had stolen, with 20 miscreants ending up behind bars as they were caught in a sting operation run by Cambridgeshire Police.

The initiative formed part of a police campaign to reduce soaring levels of bike nd other property crime in the university city in recent years, and in terms of the number of bikes reported stolen in 2011 must be viewed as a success, with 2,146 thefts recorded during the year.

Not only is that a 25 per cent reduction on the 2,870 reported bicycle thefts in 2010, it’s also below the level recorded in 2007, according to figures published by the website Cambridge News following a Freedom of Information request.

The year-long Operation Northwood was set up to fight burglary, vehicle and bike crime in Cambridge, with police setting up a shop, Wardy’s Wheels, as a front to entice criminals to seek to dispose of stolen property there.

The operation also included police deploying bait bikes fitted with GPS trackers to enable officers to trace criminals.

Referring to the fall in bike crime, Sergeant Mike Barnshaw, of the city centre policing team, commented: “This reduction is good news, but we’re not complacent and will continue to tackle those who steal cycles.

“Cambridge has long been associated with a cycling culture which is traditionally focused on the central Market ward,” he continued.

“Since my team was introduced we have identified offenders and detected an increasing number of thefts through concerted efforts and the use of a range of tactics, including ‘trap bikes’ and targeting those that sell on bikes for cash or exchange them for other goods.”

In all, 62 people were convicted in connection with the operation, many of those operating in gangs, including 20-year-old Andrew Dailley from Romsey, known as ‘Fat Boy’ to police, who was described as the leader of one such outfit.

Earlier this month Dailley, who was said to spend £40 a day on cocaine and £20 a day on vodka, was sentenced to four years and eight months in a young offenders’ institution.

Passing sentence at Cambridge Crown Court, Judge Gareth Hawkesworth told him: “As well as being a stubborn young man, you are also a very stupid young man.

“You are no stranger to the courts and you have been part of a string of thefts.”
 

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

"Fat Boy"?! Obviously wasn't spending enough time on the nicked bikes then!

Good riddance to the scumbag.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3418 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 22:18

3 Likes

Obviously this is a good thing, but i'd like to know the cost of this whole operation to the public purse

Any chance of getting the cost from the police on the freedom of information act??

It just seems to be a huge operation to get all be it 62 people, especially Dailley, if he was known to police and was spending that much on drugs a day, surely that would have been easier to catch him that way?

I'm all for sorting out bike theft, but putting 20 people behind bars from one place does nothing to sort it out anywhere else

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9000 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 22:36

2 Likes

The police in Cambridge, where there are thousands of bikes thefts per year, work very hard to reduce the rate by a quarter - A QUARTER in one year - and you can only moan about it?

why don't you go back to drowning kittens or whatever you do in your spare time

anyway, hats off to Cambridge police - can we have some of that in south London please?

posted by fluffy_mike [84 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 23:20

2 Likes

Call me a sceptic, but a drop of 700 REPORTED bike thefts does not mean that its a success, not against over 2000 bikes still being stolen

There are SO many factors to take into consideration and this is just the police blowing their own trumpets

1. People investing in better locks
2. People not reporting the theft because its a cheap bike
3. No figures about any other theft or burglary crimes, small time bike thief's may have moved to large crimes
4. How many attempted thefts of bikes took place? If you come back to find your lock has been half cut off, but not enough for the bike to be taken, do you report it to police?

The list could go on, All i'm asking is simply HOW much did the operation cost? Not moaning about the job they claim to have done, BUT i do not for one second think that this operation and the police force have cut thefts by a quarter in one year, no matter how they wrap it up and present it to us.

Here's an example, lets say a bike thief can nick a bike a day to fund a habit, so 365, but on the 5th of January, after selling a stolen bike, he goes and buys some drugs, in the process, he gets caught and locked up for two years, thats 360 thefts off the total right away, that may be overly dramatic, but i've read reports of bike thief's who can do upto 10 bikes a day, every day.

But in the mean time, i'll go back to drowning kittens in my spare time and hope that your bike gets stolen and then i'll just see you as a number the police spout out when trying to boost their own ego's Devil

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9000 posts]
24th January 2012 - 2:16

2 Likes

Frankly I'm with the fluffy one on this - any reduction in little bike-stealing scum-bags is a good thing and a drop in bike crime of 25% in a year is hefty

Oh and Gkam, it takes a brave man to tempt fate by wishing a brother cyclist ill out loud (even tongue in cheek) - I sincerely hoped you're not the one with a bike sob story any time in the near future

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [561 posts]
24th January 2012 - 6:52

2 Likes

"Fat Boy"?! Obviously wasn't spending enough time on the old cocaine then!

Good riddance to the scumbag.

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [301 posts]
24th January 2012 - 7:53

2 Likes

Applause Hats off to Cambridge police force for conducting such an operation, and well done on the results achieved. Hopefully it will improve the figures for 2012 and that CPF continue with such operations. If every police force around the country took example of what they have done here, it would go a massive way to reduce bike crime. It seems many forces care very little for such crime (don’t know this from experience), so any effort is a good thing and will hopefully encourage others to take action.

It’s a shame they couldn’t throw away the keys with the toerags that got put away. I hope that the system works, that they learn their lesson and come out as law abiding individuals, however I won’t be holding my breath.

posted by yocto [20 posts]
24th January 2012 - 8:37

3 Likes

yocto wrote:
... If every police force around the country took example of what they have done here ...

There's the thing - suddenly it wouldn't be a safe crime to commit - at the moment most constabularies just don't care enough to prioritise bicycle theft.

(footnote to web-devs - seriously, your spellchecker wants a 'Z' in prioritise - get a grip)

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [561 posts]
24th January 2012 - 8:58

3 Likes

(In reply to Gkam84 ...)

Having sat through a lengthy discussion about cycle theft in Richmond, I think I'm going to have a go at this one:

- A 25% reduction in a crime stat is proper business to most people. It may 'only' be 700, but seems a good result to me
- Bike theft is probably part of a pattern of crime for some people, but that doesn't make it inconsequential or something that shouldn't be tackled. Normally Police recover *and* return only a few percent of the bikes stolen. Even so, they're sitting on thousands of bikes - certainly in London - that they can't ID, but they know were tea-leaved. If someone doesn't report it, what can they do?
- For the cost of the operation, it's very easy to hope along to http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ and write your own FoI. It's dead simple, and the site manages the whole process for you.

If you don't believe the available stats, you need to propose another useful way to measure it. I'm no raving apologist for the Fuzz, but credit (surely) where credit is due.

By the way, one thief, many thieves. You drown your kittens, I will drown my grammar kittens!

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
24th January 2012 - 9:27

3 Likes

A 25% reduction in theft is no bad achievement. Perhaps follow-up operations monitoring Internet sales thru ebay and so on could also net rewards. I'm sure there are many multiple sales of stolen bicycles thru accounts that could easily be tracked to one user. While browsing ebay for this and that I've spotted numerous sellers that look pretty suspicious for instance.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
24th January 2012 - 11:31

3 Likes

The worry with a question like Gkam's on the cost of the operation is that you're writing the Daily Mail's article for them: "Police waste taxpayers time and money to catch just 20 bicycle thieves."

Personally, a reduction 700 thefts strikes me as a good result, and if you've ever had the misfortune to have your pride and joy nicked then I doubt you'd be so concerned about 'trivial' reductions. We can never know how many thefts were prevented or deterred because it's not a scientific experiment, but when we see police taking bike crime seriously shouldn't we simply applaud it and ask for a similar approach in other regions?

posted by withnails [92 posts]
24th January 2012 - 12:51

2 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
Call me a sceptic, but a drop of 700 REPORTED bike thefts does not mean that its a success, not against over 2000 bikes still being stolen

There are SO many factors to take into consideration and this is just the police blowing their own trumpets

1. People investing in better locks
2. People not reporting the theft because its a cheap bike
3. No figures about any other theft or burglary crimes, small time bike thief's may have moved to large crimes
4. How many attempted thefts of bikes took place? If you come back to find your lock has been half cut off, but not enough for the bike to be taken, do you report it to police?

The list could go on, All i'm asking is simply HOW much did the operation cost? Not moaning about the job they claim to have done, BUT i do not for one second think that this operation and the police force have cut thefts by a quarter in one year, no matter how they wrap it up and present it to us.

Maybe, but in the points you've mentioned there's probably no particular change in people's behaviour from one year to the next, so whilst the comparison may not be rigorous it's almost certainly more accurate that 'I don't believe it therefore it can't be related'

You also miss the point that the scrotes doing all the thieving are probably up to something elsewhere too - they're not exactly going to be fine upstanding citizens *other* than nicking bikes, are they ?

posted by JonD [199 posts]
24th January 2012 - 13:37

3 Likes

withnails wrote:

but when we see police taking bike crime seriously shouldn't we simply applaud it and ask for a similar approach in other regions?

Hear hear!

posted by SevenHills [150 posts]
24th January 2012 - 14:24

1 Like

4 years and eight months eh! That means that fat boy will be back on his bike later this year. It would be nice if sentences were completed in full... Angry

Kev Foulds

Cycling Nutter

Kevin Foulds's picture

posted by Kevin Foulds [8 posts]
24th January 2012 - 15:36

2 Likes

Well,

I live in Cambridge and my family had 3 bikes stolen in 2010, and one last year, just before New Year. I'd had no bike stolen in the previous 10 years from the same house, even though they were locked up in the same place in the same way. We had some evidence against who had stolen one bike but it wasn't enough to lead to prosecution. The recession is undoubtedly one cause. Thieves are after everything that isn't nailed down. My wife has given up on having a bike after the latest theft. We used to have 4 bikes outside locked up against various things or themselves; now we keep 3 indoors. I always double lock with D locks when I'm out, which I never used to bother with. One used to be enough.

I'm very glad this operation has taken place. The public benefit goes far beyond just bike theft as many of the criminals are probably on drugs and this gives a chance for the system to try and sort out their problems. Most crime is done by a small number of people and even if the sentences are not always strong enough, it's better than nothing.

Gkam84 is right to question the spending of public money and that's what the FOI is there for. One of the few good things Blair or New Labour did. In this case I think the money, my council tax and general tax money, has been well spent.

posted by Alan Tullett [1461 posts]
24th January 2012 - 19:45

3 Likes

I'm not against using the money this way Alan and i have filed a FOI request to find out how many man hours and the cost of the operation was.

I think its a good idea in principle, but would just like to see the cost/conviction rate, i'll take it on the 62 reported and that cost against that of the 724 bikes difference

At the moment 724/62 is around 11.67 bikes per conviction

If i was to work it out against the 20 people locked up, it would be higher, so i'll stick to the 62, there is obviously the cost to the courts for how ever many of the 62 were processed through the court system and then the 20 who have been locked up, there is the price for having them in jails and detention centres, but i wont bother trying to factor that in.

Finding out the price and man hours is purely for my own views, but i will share it when i find out, if its not hugely excessive, i'd like to see it rolled out/trailed in other parts of the country where bike crime is also high

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9000 posts]
24th January 2012 - 20:05

2 Likes