POLICE are being urged to get tough on bicycle thieves as figures show the crime continues to be an issue in Portsmouth.
Statistics from Portsmouth City Council’s transport and environment department show there were 1,021 reports of bike thefts in 2014/2015.
If more people used D-locks as opposed to cable locks, which can be cut so easily, that would reduce the number of bikes being stolen.Rob Sutton, neighbourhood sergeant for the St Thomas ward, which covers Somers Town, Gunwharf Quays and Old Portsmouth
Portsmouth Tory councillor David Tompkins is campaigning on the issue and believes officers should do more to apprehend ‘gangs’ who steal bikes to bring the number down.
He said teaching people to use sturdy locks and keep bicycles in safe places can only go so far and promoting more convictions will deter criminals.
Officers agree there is a massive problem – but resources are stretched and people must tighten up their bike security.
In a report to The News, Cllr Tompkins said: ‘I believe that the great majority of bicycle thefts in Portsmouth to be committed by small gangs of semi-professional thieves.
‘I once saw a bike stolen outside my business in which a thief had a long canvas bag with high-quality bolt cutters and snipped off in seconds a sturdy-looking lock.
‘To walk around with such equipment is clearly a sign of an organised group with intent to steal.’
He added: ‘I also felt that catching organised gangs of bike thieves would not be such a difficult feat due to the difficulty in storing multiple bikes and their security markings.
‘It would be relatively easy to investigate whether rogue bike shops were fencing stolen goods or investigate sellers online.
‘The message needs to go out that the likelihood of them being caught and convicted is much more likely than presently understood.’
Rob Sutton, neighbourhood sergeant for the St Thomas ward, which covers Somers Town, Gunwharf Quays and Old Portsmouth, said: ‘Bicycle theft is an epidemic.
‘It’s not just in Portsmouth – in any town or city there is an epidemic.
‘One of the main problems is the lack of security people use.
‘If more people used D-locks as opposed to cable locks, which can be cut easily, that would reduce the number of bikes being stolen.
‘I hear what he says about publicising convictions, and as a police service we don’t publicise enough success stories – it can act as a deterrent.’
Sgt Sutton said more people should register their bikes at shops they’re bought from as ‘hundreds’ of recovered bicycles go to auction every month because their owner can’t be found.