A STAGGERING 1,724 bicycles were stolen in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch last year.

The number of bikes stolen in 2012 was more than four each day and was up from 1,605 the previous year.

And the total for the final four months of the year was 571.

Skilled thieves are believed to be following riders on expensive bikes and also using cycling GPS applications to find out where people live.

Poole cyclist Eddie Wilkinson had a £3,000 carbon racing bike stolen and from conversations with police and bike traders believes thieves are trailing people home.

Bernard Dean, 43, from Lower Parkstone, had two bikes worth £3,500 stolen from his shed after professional thieves drilled the lock – but they left another nearby shed untouched.

He uses a computer application that tracks his rides by GPS – and believes the crooks used to it find out where he lived. The cycling press has reported on cases where people appear to have been targeted via their GPS information.

The Echo has also come across many examples of expensive bikes being stolen by highly skilled crooks despite being in apparently safe locations.

Lee Oldroyd, 27, from Poole, had his £600 bike stolen in the spring despite it being chained up in a secure room at his workplace on Holdenhurst Road in Bournemouth.

George Beverley, 41, a creative director from Parkstone, said: “My £600 bike got stolen last year.

“It was chained up in a purpose-built bike store at work on Oxford Road in Bournemouth.

“The CCTV shows the thief bringing his own bike down the steps, parking it next to mine. He then took cutters out and broke the lock.”

A pair of bicycles worth a total of £12,000, one being a limited edition model, were stolen from a garage in Bournemouth in November.

The total figure of 1,724 thefts does not include bicycles stolen where the crime was recorded as a burglary.

Bournemouth Echo:

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: “It’s important that cyclists take simple steps to make sure their bicycles are less likely to be stolen.

“We strongly encourage owners to use secure locks on their bikes.

“If you store your bike in a shed or garage, please make sure these are kept securely locked.

“If you require any further crime prevention advice please contact your Safer Neighbourhood Team.”

John Hayter, the Bournemouth co-ordinator for Dorset Cycling Network, said: “We are very aware of the problem of cycle theft. 

“This definitely deters people from using bikes for journeys where they have to be left unattended.

“In case this sounds too gloomy, not everyone has their bike stolen. I have been using a bike for utility journeys for 60 years and so far have been lucky.”

The DCN recommended people register their bikes so they are easier for the police to return. Details are on their website at dcn.org.uk.

Bernard Dean, 43, from Lower Parkstone, had two bikes worth £3,500 stolen from his shed.
He said: “I don’t think it was random.

“There are two sheds and mine was the only one that was broken into – the hinges were drilled and the lock wasn’t touched. I’m pretty sure I have been watched.

“I use an mobile phone application called Strava which uses GPS to locate where you leave from and that has made me think that it might have been used to find the whereabouts of where I live.

“The police officer who came round said they have a pretty good idea of who is stealing the bikes and that they know which properties the bikes are taken to. Why are these properties not attended more often?”

Cycling Weekly reported on the boom in cyclists signing up to GPS sites like Strava and MapMyRide – and the potential risk.

It said: “We have been told of several incidents recently where thieves have appeared to target a particular address, turning up fully equipped with cutting equipment and getting away with thousands of pounds worth of cycles.

"Several of these stolen bikes have been equipped with GPS computers. Now, the fact that the pinched bikes were equipped with GPS computers might be coincidence, but it’s best to be on the side of caution.”

It urged people to change their profile settings on their GPS.

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