DOZENS of abandoned bikes in Durham are going to good homes thanks to local police.
Some 60 cycles have been donated to community groups, charities and schools through the initiative. And local people can now add their name to a waiting list for more.
Over the last few months dozens of abandoned bikes have been gathering dust at Consett, Stanley, Chester-le-Street and Durham police stations. The machines have either been brought in by members of the public or collected by officers following reports they had been found.
Unfortunately the bikes had not been marked, making it virtually impossible to trace the owners.
Durham police used to dispose of 'abandoned' bikes at auction but, auction houses stopped taking them, as there was little profit after storage fees were factored in.
This left the force with a bike mountain which it unloaded this week in hours thanks to an appeal for worthy recipients in the local papers.
Around three dozen had been stored at Durham alone, with many of them racked up outside as there was no room left in the property shed.
Police press officer Charlie Westbirt told BikeRadar.com: "They have all been allocated. Some groups are picking them up over the next few days. They've gone to a variety of organisations
"The local papers have done us proud - the lost property office was inundated with calls from all kinds of groups wanting bikes."
People who contact Durham police about the free bikes but missed out have had their names put on a list of wannabe owners and will be contacted as more 'unwanted' bikes come in.
There will be no charge but the new owners will need to sign a disclaimer absolving the force of any responsibility for the bikes once they have left police premises.
The force does not intend in the future to send staff out to collect bicycles, although any handed in at police stations will be passed on where possible.
Mr Westbirt added: "In Durham there are a lot of students and some of them aren't probably as careful as one could be with possessions - lots of the bikes may have belonged to students who have gone."
"If owners had their bikes property marked it would make it a lot easier to trace the rightful owner," added police property officer Bev Johnston.
If you live in the Durham area and would like your name added to the waiting list for an abandoned bike, contact the police lost property office.