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Game, set & snatch – spate of bike thefts hits Aussie Open tennis championships

Suspicions voiced that organised gangs are targeting fans riding to watch the tennis

While the eyes of the cycling world have been on the Tour Down Under in Adelaide over the past week, those eyes of the country’s bicycle thieves have been on another high-profile sporting event taking place there, the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne.

According to the newspaper The Age, which is based in Victoria's capital, on one day alone last week, ten bicycles were stolen from outside Melbourne Park, home of the year’s opening Grand Slam event on the tennis calendar.

Bicycle Victoria is now warning cyclists to be extra vigilant about parking their bicycles outside the venue, with spokesman Garry Brennan citing the example of one rider whose bike was stolen returning to the bike rack where he had left it to discover five locks on the ground that had been cut through.

"Another cyclist said the police had told him that they'd had 10 reports [of bicycle thefts] on one day," Mr Brennan added.

"If it is 10 bikes then it has almost got to be an organised gang," he continued, saying that it was thought that bolt-cutters had been used to slice through the locks.

The Age added that the majority of thefts had been reported today to Bicycle Victoria, which it said suggested that most thefts had taken place this weekend, and is advising cyclists to ensure that their bikes are properly fixed to an immovable object.

"I rode down [to Melbourne Park] myself yesterday and had a look and I saw bikes chained up to temporary fences, to trees, all around the place," Mr Brennan said.

He suggested that another option for those wishing to ride to the sports venue might be to leave their bicycles in the city centre and use ones from Melbourne’s cycle hire scheme to complete their journey.

A spokeswoman from Victoria said police had that eight thefts of bicycles from Melbourne Park had been reported during the past week, a lower figure than the one reported by Bicycle Victoria, and that police were investigating.

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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