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Serial bike thief jailed for 21 months for city centre spree

Paul Digney targeted high-value bikes from communal areas of Leeds apartment blocks

A serial thief who stole six bikes from Leeds city centre apartment buildings has been jailed for 21 months.

Paul Digney's burglary spree saw him steal £4,500 worth of bicycles after he gained access to communal areas of three buildings last January.

He repeatedly pressed the intercom to gain entry to Simpsons Fold, New York Apartments and Candle House, and once inside, Digney cut through locks before making off with the bikes.

Leeds Crown Court heard how the 39-year-old's offending began on New Year's Day 2021 when he stole a Carrera Subway from New York Apartments.

Digney was seen on CCTV footage and was recognised by a PCSO who spotted him in the images.

> “It makes you feel powerless” – victims in UK's bike theft capital share their frustrations

Despite his picture being circulated the thief went on to commit five further burglaries during January.

On January 29 he was seen on CCTV stealing a Carrera Subway and Specialized Hardrock Sport from Simpsons Fold Apartments on Dock Street.

The next day he stole a Boardman Adventure from Candle House (pictured above), returning later in the evening to take another bike worth £600.

On January 31, Digney got into Simpsons Fold on two occasions and took three bikes worth more than £2,000. 

At court, the defendant with 60 previous convictions for theft and burglary offences pleaded guilty to six offences of burglary, and was jailed for 21 months.

Defending his client, Michael Walsh explained Digney had recently been released from prison and was unable to get proper support from probation services due to the pandemic.

In November 2020, a study estimated the number of bikes stolen in the UK since the pandemic was more than 110,000.

The same research suggested that up to 14.5 million bikes, worth a total of £5 billion, had been bought since March 2020, unfortunately also leading to a surge in crime.

An FOI request found the official number of stolen bikes during that eight-month period to be 32,700, but Direct Line estimate the real number could be as high as 112,600 because 71 per cent of theft victims do not report the crime.

London unsurprisingly suffers the most bike thefts, however, proportionally Cambridge is Britain's bike theft capital, with more stolen bicycles per head than any other city in the UK.

> More than 110,000 bikes stolen in Britain since pandemic began

In May, readers and bike theft victims from the city shared their frustration living somewhere with 4,000 bikes reported stolen each year.

"It makes you feel powerless," one resident at a modern apartment block where bikes had been stolen during two break-ins two months apart told us. "[We're] just waiting for the next time, and it's very very frustrating ... not to mention expensive."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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