UK police: lock your bike or we'll nick it

Gamekeepers turn poachers

Cyclists in the UK have criticised police after they threatened to confiscate unlocked bikes.

People living in the city of Worcester have been warned that unsecured bikes they could be removed by officers on patrol. West Mercia police admits it is considering the move, prompting a backlash from angry cyclists who say that efforts should be concentrated on catching organised bike thieves.

Worcester has seen bike thefts climb dramatically in recent years, with two now stolen every day in the city centre. Some 439,000 bikes were stolen in the UK last year - one every 71 seconds, and an estimated one in four victims does not buy another bike.

West Mercia acting inspector Paul Crumpton said: "While we clearly anticipate objections from some quarters, we believe it is now time to take strong action in bringing home the message to cyclists that it is in their interests to be far more pro-active in looking after their property.

"Bikes used to be fairly inexpensive items, but nowadays we are talking about high-tech machines that can cost up to £5,000 - and sometimes even more.

"Admittedly, to consider removing bikes before criminals do is very much a shock tactic, but we believe that, if people do not start securing their property, it will quickly make many riders think longer and harder about how they safeguard their bikes."

The force said that cyclists whose bikes were removed should contact local police to get their property returned to them.

However, some cyclists have pointed out they leave their bike unlocked because thwarted thieves may trash a cycle they cannot take.

One mother, Jane Tattersfield, told the Worcester Evening New that thieves stole bikes belonging to her twelve-year-old twin sons Tom and Sam Revell, despite the fact that they were locked.

She said: "They should be concentrating on catching the thieves, not spending time taking people's bikes. If people are silly enough to leave their bikes unsecured that's their fault.

"But it doesn't seem to matter anyway, as both my sons' bikes were locked and were still taken. Sam had already had his previous bike stolen in the Easter holidays, which again was locked securely in the city.

"Better CCTV and more police on the streets is what we really need - to deter the criminals, not punish innocent people."

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