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."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.