DAMAGED or stolen Beryl Bikes worth more than £15,000 were recovered in a police operation.

Officers from Bournemouth South Police joined forces with operators, Beryl, to trace the bikes across the Bournemouth and Poole area.

The bikes, which cost £950 each, have been well-received by the public but many have suffered from vandalism or theft since their introduction to the area in June.

One of the bikes tracked down by the officers had been spray-painted red. Others were reportedly stripped of important and valuable parts.

A spokesman for Bournemouth South Police said: “This operation was put in place for a number of reasons.

"These bikes are worth £950 each.

"We assisted in recovering 16 bikes, which equates to more than £15,000 worth of property that has sadly been damaged or stolen.

“As a result of this, a large number of our community members are at a loss because the bikes are not available for them to hire when needed.

"This isn’t just about the value of the property stolen or damaged, it’s about ensuring the community are able to use this fantastic service – a service that goes some way to supporting the environment and aiding in the health and wellbeing of our community members. It also sends a clear message to those stealing or damaging the bikes that it will not be tolerated.”

Officers shared details of their operation on Facebook and attracted 90 comments from members of the public, largely supportive of their actions.

BCP councillor David Brown said: “Great work.

"I’ve been using Beryl bikes regularly, there’s been a big investment in this project and it’s really important that you send out a message that damaging them isn’t tolerated.”

Since their introduction, Bournemouth and Poole’s Beryl Bikes have been cycled the equivalent of twice round the world. There are 1,000 bikes and hundreds of parking bays across the conurbation.

Damage has been reported on a number of occasions, including tyre slashing and the theft of saddles.

There have also been suggestions that youths have been removing GPS systems from the bikes.

A spokesman for Beryl said: “We are very grateful for the support of the Dorset Police, both ongoing and in retrieving these bikes. This first action over just a few hours saw a handful of bikes recovered from private properties and returned to the scheme.

“We understand that some members of the public may not yet fully understand how the scheme operates, so we would like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. “However, taking the bikes off the street and into private property as well as the few individuals that have damaged them, should be aware that these are criminal offences.

“We are about to announce further action to both educate the wider community and tackle the few unfortunate instances of misuse.”