THIEVES stole more than £404,000 of bikes from Portsmouth in the past year, The News can reveal.
Police received 1,346 reports of stolen cycles in the city – almost 26 a week and up 19 per cent from 1,126 in 2010.
It is feared the total value of bikes stolen could be far higher as some are worth thousands of pounds.
Officers say Portsmouth city centre in particular is being targeted by organised gangs who sell bikes on via handlers or websites like eBay and Gumtree.
Sergeant Rob Sutton from the city centre unit said: ‘We have a higher proportion of cycle thefts purely because cycling to the city centre is an easy and popular way of getting there and the cycle racks are always full of bikes.
‘We have a large student population and a lot of them travel on bikes.
‘We have had organised gangs of people who have targeted the city centre. It’s easy prey.
‘People don’t just hang around on the off-chance and nick your bike, they target them because they have got outlets for them.
‘They will either have a handler or another avenue to dispose of them like eBay or Gumtree.
‘We know there have been bikes offered for sale on there and we have recovered bikes from there.’
The city centre unit is now working with Hargroves Cycles, which has stores in Fareham, Chichester and Winchester, to offer D-locks to bike owners at a reduced rate.
It means owners can pick up a lock from Portsmouth Central police station in Winston Churchill Avenue or at free bike security marking sessions held in Commercial Road, Landport for £20 – less than half the normal price – as the cost is subsidised by police.
Sgt Sutton added: ‘You have spent hundreds of pounds on a bike, sometimes thousands, and then people secure them with a “liquorice lock” – a cable lock worth a couple of quid which people can bolt crop or even pull apart.
‘That takes seconds.
‘At the end of the day if someone is determined to steal your bike, they will do.
‘You have just got to make it so difficult for them that they disregard your bike and look for an easier option.’
Officers from Portsmouth’s City Centre Unit are holding free bike security marking sessions in Commercial Road, Landport, Portsmouth, from 10am-4pm starting on April 4.
1. Keep your cycle locked at all times – preferably with a D-lock – and take quick-release parts with you.
2. Note the make, model and frame number and take a photo of yourself with the bike to help prove ownership.
3. Lights are detachable so these should not be left on bikes.
4. At home, bikes should be kept inside and out of view, preferably secured to an immoveable object or a floor or a wall-mounted anchor lock.