Thieves in Bristol are sawing through bike stands and then concealing the damage in a bid to fool bike owners. Police are asking cyclists to be ‘extra vigilant’ when using racks, checking that they are secure.
The Bristol Post reports how the damage means cyclists could lock their bikes to the stands without knowing they could be removed without the thief needing to break the lock.
Ian Crocker found one example of this handiwork near Millennium Square – one of the more popular locations around the harbour front. The sawn part of one stand was hidden in overhanging foliage, making the damage hard to spot.
Crocker said: "I regularly cycle there and leave my bike there. I found it after I tried to lock my bike onto the rack and it came apart. I couldn't believe it at first. If I had just left it there, I'm sure it would have been gone when I came back. A lot of people use those racks if they go into Costa or Tesco, or maybe visit Millennium Square.”
Neighbourhood Sergeant Stephen Bell said there had been reports of other bike racks being similarly damaged around the city.
"We are aware of several sites in Bristol being discussed on social media where bike racks are reported to have been tampered with, making it easier for thieves to steal bikes.
"As of yet we haven't received any official crime reports, but we are looking into the social media messages and I have sent officers to locations in Millennium Square, North Street and King Street to check the security of the bike racks there.
"If they have been tampered with then we will alert Bristol City Council to let them know that they need fixing or replacing, and I will ask officers to pay extra attention to those areas when on patrol. I would ask bike users to be extra vigilant when using racks to make sure they are secure as well as to log their bikes on Bike Register, the national database used to trace stolen bikes."
A spokesman said Bristol City Council would monitor hotspots using CCTV and asked members of the public to report any possible tampering to the police and themselves. Bike racks that have been sawn through will be repaired by the council.
In 2014, suspected bike thieves sawed through a bike rack at a park and ride along Cambridge's guided busway and later the same month, the same approach was adopted to take a couple’s bikes in Manchester. In the latter instance, it seems the culprits felt the rack was easier to cut through than the locks, whereas the damage spotted in Bristol seems to be groundwork for a subsequent theft.