Avon & Somerset Constabulary have arrested five people following a year-long investigation into criminal gangs involved in cycle theft.
The arrests, of four men aged between 18 and 22 and a 45-year-old woman on suspicion of conspiracy to handle stolen goods, took place yesterday at a number of addresses in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Officers say that to date they have recovered 70 bicycles worth an estimated £50,000, and have posted pictures to Flickr of 28 bikes that they have yet to reunite with their owners.
Acting Detective Inspector Mark Langdon, Bristol Investigations, commented: “Today’s operation has seen two organised crime groups involved in stealing and selling on bikes in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, taken into custody.
“It’s the result of a lot of hard work over the past year to identify those involved and gather evidence against them.”
He continued: “Around 2,000 bikes are reported stolen every year in Bristol and we know there’s a lot of concern among cyclists about the extent of the problem.
“Hopefully, today’s operation will provide some reassurance about the work we’re doing to target key people driving the problem.
“Although many are organised criminals, their lives are made far too easy by the availability of often high-value but poorly secured bikes.
“We really need cyclists, retailers and employers to do more to help reduce their supply,” he added.
Here’s road.cc’s Bike Locking Bible to help you avoid falling victim to the thieves:
• 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 road.cc 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.