Plans for more secure cycle facilities at railway stations across the country could not come quick enough for commuters in the South East after a serial bicycle thief who targeted commuters was caught and jailed for two and a half years.
Muharrem Sener, 26, stole £33,000 worth of bikes from railway stations throughout the Home Counties during an “organised, premeditated and systematic’ crime spree,” striking in broad daylight while his victims were at work and wearing a cycle helmet to avoid suspicion.
He cut the locks securing the bikes before loading them into a van and driving back to his home in the East End of London. And despite repeatedly being caught on CCTV, Sener often returned to the same railway stations to steal again, sometimes within a matter of weeks. On one occasion last summer, he made off with three bicycles worth £12,000 from Woking in Surrey.
Police eventually caught up with him in June this year when he was given a curfew order by magistrates in Bristol after being caught with a stolen bike.
At Southwark Crown Court Sener admitted 83 counts of theft between August 6, 2008-June 12, 2009 and was jailed for 30 months. The court heard details about 28 cases, with a further 55 taken into account.
The court heard he already had six convictions dating back to 2003 in connection with bicycle theft, but had previously only been given community orders. Judge John Price told him: “When people come from a hard day’s work, the last thing they want is that their bike has gone. It’s a real epidemic that is happening, and it’s awful.”
Robert Brown, defending, said his client has stolen to fund his gambling addiction, but was determined not to offend again.
Last week Labour's Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis unveiled a £14m investment package to encourage people to cycle to the railway station, three million of which will go on extra cycle parking spaces and facilities at nearly 350 stations across the country.
As cycling to work and the popularity of cycling picks up pace in the country cycle theft is up too. The latest British Crime Survey figures show that during 2008/09 there were an estimated 540,000 bikes stolen – a 22% rise since the last survey. In fact an estimated 80,000 bikes were stolen in London alone in 2008.