Campaigners call for tougher police action over Portsmouth’s growing cycle crime

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A fresh plea has been made to police to halt Portsmouth’s escalating bike crime.

It comes as The News today reveals the number of bicycles stolen from city streets has shot up by at least 10 per cent in the past year.

What tends to happen is, people report a bike theft and they’re given a crime reference number, and that’s the police’s way of showing they’ve done their bit.

Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum

And critics fear the situation will only get worse unless the thieves to blame are tracked down.

While others say incidents are simply getting filed and forgotten and ‘simple investigative work’ that would slash the rate of thefts is lacking.

New crime figures also reveal Commercial Road remains the biggest hotspot for thieves – with 42 incidents reported between April and October this year.

Portsmouth Language School boss David Tompkins said his students often complain about having their bikes stolen – and he has urged Portsmouth chief inspector Jim Pegler to get things sorted.

Mr Tompkins, who is also a Tory city councillor, said: ‘I’m very concerned.

‘I did urge the police last summer that this was an issue.

‘So it does not look good for Portsmouth that this is still a problem.

‘I do believe it’s small groups of people who do this, and they are well tooled.

‘But surely it can’t be too difficult for the police to get to the bottom of this?

‘I’m urging them to give this some attention. I’d like to see some simple investigation work, rather than just logging an incident and giving someone a crime reference number.

‘I’m no expert on policing, but clearly it can’t be that hard to solve – you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes.’

The total number of bike thefts in Portsmouth between April 1 and October 12 was 631, 60 more than those reported in the same period last year.

Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said: ‘What tends to happen is, people report a bike theft and they’re given a crime reference number, and that’s the police’s way of showing they’ve done their bit.

‘But I know the reality, like a lot of public services, is that the police have been cut and cut.

‘However, what we saw this weekend and last weekend is a city that is extremely congested.

‘It only takes a small incident to get the city gridlocked.

‘Yet we know one of the things that puts people off using their bike is the fear of getting it pinched.

‘So it’s absolutely something that must be addressed if we are to reduce the level of traffic on our roads.’

Families are concerned Portsmouth’s bike crime has become a ‘profitable business’. Dawn Burton’s son Sean had his bike stolen from the Fratton Tesco car park, even though it was secured with a D-lock.

Tesco paid for Sean to have a new bicycle.

But Mrs Burton, of Milton, said: ‘I am concerned that his bike could get stolen again. Portsmouth is bad for bike thefts.

‘There’s almost a market where bikes are being stolen so they can be transported out of the area and sold on. It’s become a business.’

Police have already insisted they are ‘working hard to identify people responsible for bike thefts in Portsmouth’, and Chief Inspector Pegler has urged residents to help by reporting suspicious activity and using a quality D lock to secure their bike.

British Transport Police are at Fratton and Havant train stations this week to deter cycle thieves and reinforce safety messages about locking bikes securely.

The high-visibility patrols are also happening at Chichester.

Anyone who can provide information on cycle theft is asked to call PC Gary Morgan at Fratton police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.