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Bristol bicycle thief caught in police bait bike operation

Man charged after police launch initiative following series of bike thefts in city

Police in Bristol have arrested a man and charged him with attempting to steal a pedal cycle and possession of an offensive weapon in an operation that involved officers leaving a “bait bike” in the city centre.

The initiative was launched following what police say was a “small series of bike thefts” in the centre of the city, and last Friday 11 April a bike was placed at cycle racks at Broadmead, with officers keeping a close watch on it.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary say that within five minutes, 31-year-old Stephen Davis of Broomhill tried to steal the bike. He is due to appear at Bristol Magistrates Court on 19 May.

Inspector Steve Appleton of Bristol’s district focus team said: “Bristol is a fantastic place to cycle and we want to deter individuals like this from stealing bikes from hard working commuters and visitors to the city.

“The result last week is part of a series of operations we’re currently carrying out in Bristol - just last week we arrested two other people outside McDonald’s in the Horsefair for attempting to steal bikes.”

That incident led to Zach Cook, aged 22 and from St Pauls, being charged with attempting to steal a pedal cycle, and a 24-year-old man was also cautioned for the same offence.

“Our message to bike thieves is clear – we are watching you and will do all we can to catch you,” Inspector Appleton went on.

“We also need people to take responsibility for locking up their bike properly," he added.

Over the years we’ve compiled a definitive set of anti bike theft tips, with input from the community. Here they are:

  • Lock your bike to a secure, immovable object. Trees and certain pieces of street furniture don’t make particularly good locking locations; trees limbs can be sawed through, and your bike can often be lifted over bollards and signposts.
  • Your wheels are the most vulnerable part of your bike. Make sure that your lock goes through both wheels and the frame, or use two locks: one for each wheel. Alternatively you can invest in a locking wheel skewer for your front wheel.
  • It doesn’t take long to steal a bike. Make sure that you lock your bike up properly whether you are leaving it for 30 seconds or half an hour.
  • Bike lights and other items and accessories that are not secured to your bike are easy pickings for thieves. Take them with you whenever you leave your bike.
  • No matter how safe you feel in your home, your bike is still at risk, especially if it’s in your garage or your shed. Lock it up at home like you would if you were on the street.
  • Not all bike locks are cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. If you treasure your bike, buying the best locks that you can afford would be a wise investment.
  • If you come back to your bike and it's got a mysterious puncture or damage, walk it home. It's probably been marked in the hope that you'll leave it there overnight.
  • Consider using a registration service, such as Bike Register, to physically mark your bike with an identifying feature and link it to your identity on the police database. Certain councils and police constabularies offer free solutions, and there are alternatives to Bike Register.
  • If it does go missing you must report it. The police will only take bike crime more seriously if they have reason to do so.
  • If you're down to one lock, or are particularly worried about the security of your wheel, taking your front wheel with you eliminates half of the risk of theft immediately.
  • Use secure bike parking wherever possible. Even for a price, your bike will be far better protected from theft inside a designated secure location rather than on the street, no matter how well you think you’ve locked it up.
  • Make sure that you lock your bike up in as public of a place as possible. If you leave it in a secluded location, it will give any would-be thief time to work on your lock undisturbed.
  • Make the lock mechanism itself hard to access. For example if you're locking your bike to railings, point the lock mechanism away from the street so it's harder for a thief to attack.
  • Don't leave space in your shackle - any extra space gives evil bike stealing tools the room they need to do their dirty work. Don't give them that opportunity.
  • If you’ve taken out insurance on your bike don’t buy any old lock. Make sure that the locks that you have purchased are featured on Sold Secure’s approved products list as many insurance companies insist on their use.
  • But most importantly, wherever you’re going, please do not forget your lock!

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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