A FAMILY of keen cyclists has been left devastated after a gang of thieves stole four valuable mountain bikes worth around £6000.
Chris Wilkinson and his daughters will be unable to attend a race event next weekend due to the theft.
Their home in Penicuik was one of three Midlothian properties targeted by the gang in an overnight spree.
It is believed the gang used a van or large vehicle to target three addresses in Penicuik, Nine Mile Burn and Cousland on Tuesday night.
The thieves are suspected of using tools to smash through locked sheds and garages to snatch nine bikes with a collective value of £15,000.
Mr Wilkinson, 41, said it was concerning that the thieves had specifically targeted expensive mountain bikes.
The electronic engineer said: “My seven-year-old daughter didn’t want to go to sleep that night as she was very worried about them breaking in again.
“All my daughters race so now they are going to have to miss the next meeting of the British Series race in a week’s time. That’s the most annoying thing.”
The girls, aged seven, 13, and 15, were due to compete at Cathkin Braes, Glasgow, next Saturday, and the family was also planning to travel as far afield as Essex and South Wales for races later this summer.
Avid cyclist Mr Wilkinson believes the gang used a crowbar to break into his garage, which had been secured with two large locks. They stole a Giant XTC advance 1 race bike, which was only a few months old, and a Giant XTC which was painted matt black.
A Scott scale 20 bike with a repaired broken frame, and a Scott scale 760 in size XL – only suitable for cyclists over 6ft 3in tall – were also taken.
Sergeant Kosmas Papakyriakou said the group had covered a “wide area” of Midlothian during the hours of darkness.
He said: “The thieves try and sell them on as a whole, or split them down into component parts, which makes it equally lucrative. It’s unusual for it to be on such a scale. We don’t know if they have been lucky or if these places have been specifically targeted.”
Police are urging cyclists to be careful about what they post on social media and cycling forums, and also called on the public to watch out for any suspicious listings on second-hand websites.
Area Commander Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson said: “We’d urge the public to be vigilant when buying or being offered second-hand bikes.
“If the seller cannot provide proof of ownership, or if they are being sold at a disproportionately cheap price, they may have been obtained through criminal activity.”
A number of power tools, including a Stihl circular saw, were also stolen in the raids.
Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.