An image of the youth sitting astride a powerful motorbike – thought to have been stolen in June – was set as the profile picture on his Facebook account.
Ten members of a Hamburg-based motorbike club were left distraught after three Honda XRV 750s – parked outside the Herald House Hotel in Grove Street – were stolen within hours of their arrival in Scotland.
The teenager in the Facebook image – who cannot be named for legal reasons – is suspected of belonging to a group of bike thieves who have recently wreaked havoc in the Pilton area.
It comes after the News revealed how 20 stolen motorcycles had been recovered from Pilton since June 1, with tormented residents branding the estate the “Wild West” of the city.
They told how the police and courts seemed “powerless” to stop the anarchy which has seen a police helicopter routinely deployed in a bid to deter criminality.
In response to the trouble, community leaders have launched a “midnight youth” project which aims to prevent teenagers from being lured into bike theft through pastimes such as fishing.
They hope the late-night activity club will keep unruly youngsters off the streets at times when they are most likely to offend.
Councillor Cammy Day, community safety leader, said prevention was key to driving down the rate of offending.
He said: “A huge amount of work is going on to stop youth crime and antisocial behaviour before it happens, and it’s been made a priority at the highest levels of the council.
“There are close links between agencies dealing with youth offending so that we can target problems quickly. We work together with people such as officers from community safety and social work, the police, communities and families.
“We continue to work hard together with local communities to tackle antisocial behaviour and to make Edinburgh as safe and as pleasant a place to live, work and visit.”
But concerned residents and political leaders said recent events in Pilton highlighted the need for tougher action from the courts.
One mum, who asked not to be named, told how her two-year-old son had almost been knocked down by joyriders as they crossed the road close to a primary school.
She said: “Basically, they came really fast and I had to push my son out of the way, and he ended up falling. One of his legs was so badly bruised it was actually swollen.”
“The courts need to be much tougher. I’m terrified of letting my son out of his buggy.”
Malcolm Chisholm, Edinburgh North and Leith MSP, called the disruption in Pilton a “very serious problem”.
“The police are doing everything they can, but it would be helpful if the courts, and sometimes the Children’s Panel, took more effective action,” he said.