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30 charged in Grampian Police bike theft operation

Innovative multi-pronged approach results in charges and recovery of property

Thirty people have been charged and more than £10,000 of property has been recovered in an innovative operation to target bicycle thieves in Aberdeen.

Operation Inchbrae was planned and organised by Inspector Nick Thom in response to an increase in bike thefts in the city.

Between 1 July and 17 October, about 360 bikes were stolen in Aberdeen, an average of more than three bikes a day. The operation was launched to target bike thieves and address the problem.

Operation Inchbrae was not just about enforcement, it was a multifaceted attack on bicycle theft.

"We analysed previous bike thefts in the city, looking for crime patterns and trends," said Inspector Thom. "Similarly, we looked at the profile of criminals caught or suspected of stealing bikes and we targeted them.

"Learning from this analysis, we helped raise awareness of bike thefts in Aberdeen by circulating regular information bulletins regarding crime hotspots, recently stolen bikes and crime prevention advice, through local bike shops and cycling clubs, to ensure that we have many more 'eyes and ears' in our cycling community and among residents.

"During the operation we investigated all bike thefts, followed all leads and proactively stopped and checked cyclists, particularly in respect of lighting or road traffic offences, allowing us to check over their bikes."

Grampian Police say that the pilot phase of Operation Inchbrae has been well received and supported by the local cycling community. The police have been supplying cycling clubs in the Aberdeen area with a list of stolen bikes, the idea being that, as enthusiasts, club members will often glance at other people's bikes or possibly spot a stolen bike in the classified sections of newspapers or internet sites.

The Operation Inchbrae team have been successful in following up leads supplied by members of the public about bikes advertised in such a way at prices that seemed too good to be true.

"A cheap high-spec bike may very well be a stolen bike,” said Inspector Thom. “If it doesn't feel right - it's not right.

"The partnership approach of the operation, aided by information from members of the public about those involved, has enabled us to make significant inroads to reducing bike thefts in Aberdeen and improving the quality of life of the worst-affected communities."

Since the start of Operation Inchbrae, 30 people have been charged and 10 stolen bicycles, valued at over £6,700, have been recovered, along with golfing equipment valued at over £5,000.

More than a dozen cyclists were charged with careless cycling offences and numerous others spoken to by police regarding their standard of cycling.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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